What practice do Serena Williams and I have in common?

I remember reading an article about Serena Williams, and while I may never be a professional tennis player, she and I do share a common practice. How we use our passwords. Oooh, passwords. Sexy stuff, I know. But hear me out.

Think about how many times a day you enter passwords (unless you have one of those password keeper apps or you have handed them all over to be remembered by Google). Let’s still assume that you enter a number of passwords in various locations throughout the day. One of the ways often suggested for creating secure passwords is to make them a phrase (or use a system like this) where you can mix in upper and lowercase letters and numbers and maybe even some special characters.

Instead of choosing just any old phrase, why not make it something purposeful and meaningful to you? In Serena’s case it was a positive affirmation. In yours maybe it is an affirmation or even a question. Working on a big project? Maybe the password is AmIOnTrackToday? Want to touch base with a goal, how about 2StayOnThePath.You can always make them more complicated by swapping out some of the letters like zero for an O or $ for an S or @ for an A or whatever system works for you. The point is that it is something that you will encounter throughout your day that will trigger a reminder, a small nudge, or maybe just a smile. They also can be easier to remember since they are more personal. Of course, same old rules apply in terms of changing them periodically.

If you aren't attached to your tech devices 24-7, then sticky notes work too. I have been known to leave myself, not just reminders like grocery lists stuck in my planner or books, but also a nudge to stay on course. Nudges are a great gameful element you can experiment with using both to help your learners but also to create self-monitoring and self-motivating actions. Build your own feedback loops.

Do you have any tricks for nudging yourself toward action or tips you use in your courses to nudge your learners along? Talk to me.