Building a new routine: the Golden Coin Method

A small change can make much bigger changes happen in the future. That’s the idea behind the butterfly effect. Likewise, a minimal change in our daily routine can have a massive impact on our lives in the long run. The best part is that it doesn’t take much effort to drastically change our lives and achieve our goals. All it takes is some consistency and perseverance.

Our daily routine consists of several habits. When we want to add a new habit to our routine, we shouldn’t overwhelm ourselves. We should not be too hard on ourselves and demotivate ourselves. Here is an example of how I successfully incorporated new habits into my daily routine.

I had a desire to read more. My bookshelf was full of exciting titles like “The war of art” by Steven Pressfield, “The win without pitching manifesto” by Blair Enns, or “The courage to be disliked” by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga. I usually read a lot on vacation, at the beach, or by the pool. But with a young son, I now prefer to spend my time building sandcastles. So in the meantime, I read next to nothing. And that’s what I was missing.

So instead of looking for days off to read, on January 01, 2021, I decided to read just a few pages every morning. I set myself three rules:

  1. reading will be the first activity of the day
  2. I will read every working day
  3. I will not feel guilty if I read only a paragraph or a sentence due to time constraints.

Suddenly, I found time to read instead of looking for it

It worked right off the bat. I read for 15 minutes, sometimes half an hour, but sometimes only 1 or 2 pages. Sometimes at breakfast, sometimes at my desk. Now, something exciting was happening: My newfound habit was affecting my entire routine. Since I enjoyed reading, I couldn’t wait to get up. I started the day motivated and satisfied. On days when there was a lot of work to be done, I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier. Suddenly, I found time to read instead of looking for it.

In 2021, I thus read 17 books. That was 17 more than in 2020, so I could literally touch the result of this minimal change. There was no doubt that the most minor steps had a huge effect over time. Could I possibly implement more into my life than reading? Yes, I could. So 15 minutes of reading today became an hour in the morning that is mine alone.

In this hour, I read two books for 15 minutes each. I work on my Italian with 15 minutes of Babbel and write a short blog post in the last 15 minutes.

Now, what does this have to do with gold coins? I am a child of the 80s, and the Nintendo Gameboy was my great passion. Super Marion Land I played through countless times. Somehow I can’t help but think of the game when I think of the habits and small steps toward success.

We can collect gold coins in the jump & run adventure, besides the popular mushroom power-ups. Apparently, their value in the game is low. Dozens are scattered or hidden in the level. Therefore, I was happy to leave out a few coins on my way, even if it would have cost me only a fraction of a second to collect them.

However, once you collected 100 of these coins, you got the game’s most valuable item: an extra life. The more lives you had, the greater your chances were of achieving the goal of freeing the princess.

Let’s not let the little gold coins in our lives slip through our fingers. It will be worth it.