I’ve written about triggers before, but I’ve yet to write about signals.
Signals are different than triggers. Signals are indicators that something needs to happen, and triggers are the incidents that make things happen. Signals often come in waves, sometimes one after the other. Other times, signals are spaced far apart. Triggers show up once and lead to action.
I can’t walk through a bookstore right now. Why? Because I see the published works of many people I know, and it reminds me that I don’t have any sort of publishing deal in the works. It’s not that I couldn’t have one, it’s that I don’t have one. Seeing those books acts as a signal. But a while ago, I saw one book in particular that acted as a trigger. Now I’m finally working on my book proposal.
I don’t really record signals in my journal entries. But I do record triggers. So when I saw that particular book, I wrote about it in my journal that night. In fact, that’s the only place where I have written down the title of the book and the name of the author. (I won’t be sharing that in writing anywhere else.)
A signal could be seeing your email pile up, but a trigger could be seeing a specific email that propels you to take action on your overflowing inbox.
You need to pay attention to both signals and triggers because they will ultimately help you make progress on your intentions. If you ignore the signals, the trigger won’t be worth noticing. Ignore the trigger, and the outcome you want may never amounts to anything worth celebrating.
If you ignore both, then you won’t do much of anything at all.