Tracking the “Bright Spots”

The term “bright spots” is one that picked up from authors, Chip and Dan Heath in the book, Switch.  A “bright spot” describes a time, action, or behavior that you have done, or are doing, that has lead to some success in the pursuit of a particular change.  For example, if you have lost weight in the past, what did you do, previously, that you found some success in?  Upon being asked that question, you can look back and examine the time, actions, and behaviors that have previously worked for you–and in doing so you can glean some ideas that may be applicable to your current situation.  This is a strategy that can provide you with some clues and, maybe, even a starting point to begin to change a specific habit or behavior.

How to Apply This Strategy

When applying this strategy, it is important to remember that our lives our not static, and when looking back to examine what has worked previously, we must understand that what may have worked before may have been successful due to your specific situation during that time, such as age, commitments, obligations, and priorities.  This cannot be overlooked–it may not be the most realistic “bright spot” to pursue if you’re 55 yrs old and you are attempting to try a strategy that worked for you when you were 21.  Therefore, it may be best to examine your most recent history to begin tracking your “bright spots”.

Bright Spot tracking, often times, gives you clues as to which strategies work well for you when employed concurrently, or in unison.  For example, if you look back into your recent history and found that you were successful losing weight during a time when you signed up as a part of group, you had a trainer instructing you to perform specific tasks, you regularly updated you friends about your progress, etc. you begin to gain a larger perspective of why, during this time, you were able to see some success with this particular area change.  Using the example given here you can glean the following:

  • You signed up as part of a group–this may have attributed to your success because there was a level of social support, and a feeling of “you are not in this alone”–which may have helped you stay inspired to continue your efforts.
  • You had a trainer–a trainer may have provided you with clear instructions, support, and a level of accountability; all of which may have had a profound affect on your success.
  • You regularly updated your friends about your progress–here you may have provided YOURSELF with a level of accountability because informing your friends and family (the people you are closest to), makes your efforts “real”, because when your friends and family notice it has a direct effect on your life–because your efforts may have been “validated” in personal social engagements.

As you can see, from the example above, accountability, social support, and clarity of actions all can be credited for making you previous change successful.

I find that tracking your bright spots is a good strategy to utilize early on, when considering making a change, because it can provide a landscape for what has made a previous change happen.

Questions to Consider

Here are a few questions for you to consider when Tracking your Bright Spots to get you started.

  • What time of day was it?
  • What relationships did you have?
  • What actions did you do that you feel attributed to your success?
  • Were you alone? If not, who supported you, and in what way?
  • How did you feel at that time?  Were you confident, happy, indifferent, or content?
  • Where were you? or Where did you go?

I find this strategy is best utilized when worked through with a trusted friend or coach.  It can also be done by yourself, but you must be diligent in recording your findings and asking yourself questions that promote solution based thinking.