To do lists. We all make them. Whether you’re the kind of person who writes down a list every day, or it’s something you keep in your head.
Unfortunately that to-do list can be unwittingly eroding your self-confidence and keeping you from living a life filled with meaning.
How can something as simple as a to-do list be responsible for all of this?
Because the odds are that your to-do list is too long and filled with things that are inconsequential or keeping you from meaning.
It’s filled with things like:
- groceries to buy and other household errands
- chores to do and household maintenance
- taking care of the kids or your job
It’s missing things like:
- taking time to take care of yourself
- activities that bring you joy
- activities that are meaningful and move you closer to living life on your terms
That daily to-do list is also likely waaay longer than a team of personal assistants could tackle in a day. Am I right?
Why This To-Do List Sabotages You
Here’s the thing about a typical to do list. It’s full of mundane activities you don’t want to forget. While all of these things need to get done, they shouldn’t be the priority in your life. But by including those items (and only those items) in your to-do list, you’re subconsciously telling yourself that these mundane tasks are more important than your joy. Over time, it can contribute to a sense of guilt every time you choose to do something for yourself.
The typical to-do list is also too long to reasonably accomplish in a day. When every day you set yourself an expected list of tasks and every day you fail to accomplish that list, you can unconsciously erode your self-confidence. If the subtle daily message is one of failure, you begin to feel like a failure.
That’s not helpful. Something as simple and common as a to-do list should build you up. Not tear you down.
Build Success While Building Your To-Do List
Here’s a new approach to building that to-do list. Buy yourself a new notebook or journal to keep your to-do lists in. Set aside 3-5 minutes in the morning to build your list. By writing it down, you are already beginning to make the commitment real and building your sense of success.
Get Focused On You
Unlike your typical to-do list, this list begins by focusing on you, your sense of self, and your desires.
Begin by spending 30 seconds writing down everything you are. Begin each line with ‘I am’. It might be things that you believe about yourself already. It might be a list of things you desire to be.
Next, spend 1 minute writing down everything you intend to be, do or have. Begin each line with ‘I intend to.’ These aren’t your ‘to-dos’ for the day. These are your bigger goals for yourself. It’s a space to dream. A place to hold your vision for your life.
Get Focused on What Matters
Once you’ve spent a few moments settling into yourself, it’s time to focus on today. What is your to-do list for today?
Your list can still include remembering to pick up the dry cleaning, or helping your children with their homework. But it should also include the to-dos that will support you to be the person you want to be and achieve the things you intend to be, do and have.
When you are finished with your list, ask yourself 2 questions:
- does my to-do list support me in achieving what I want in my life?
- is my to-do list manageable today?
If the answers to both questions are ‘yes’, that’s awesome. If the answer to either question is no, why not? Does anything need to be adjusted before heading into your day?
Having a to-do list is only worth it if you actually work towards it each day. At the end of the day, give yourself a few moments to review your list.
Take a look at your list for the day. What did you accomplish? Celebrate yourself for what you achieved today!
What were you unable to accomplish? Were they the mundane day-to-day tasks? Or were they the joy-filled activities you’d included for yourself?
If life got in the way of your joy-filled activities, what was it that interfered? Over time, you can begin to see patterns that develop. What is it that gets in the way of you living the life you desire? What can you do to eliminate these barriers?
Over time, building and accomplishing your daily to-do list in this way can help you to make yourself and your desires a priority and foster a sense of accomplishment and success within you.
Photo Credit: John Schultz on Flickr