Are there any To-Do List Makers out there?
Okay listen up I have a little something for you. A test of your list making fortitude!
So many of us make lists out of habit…productivity mavens whose lists, the length, width and depth of which define our very worth. Many of us live much of our lives perpetually checking off and adding to our lists and call it living. I know I spent many, many years of my life dutifully to-doing and never really getting ahead. My to-doing kept me busy, too busy to notice that most of my tasks were aimless and lacked purpose. This left me feeling tired and empty and the only fleeting sense of fulfillment came when the list was complete…btw that would last for about 5 minutes before I went to bed and was promptly replaced by a looming sense that I needed to get more done tomorrow.
So what is a to-do lister to do?
The answer is, be SMART and discerning about what gets added to your list. Assess whether or not a to-do is actually yours or someone else’s. Look at your list as a coveted place where only the prestigious and super-star tasks land. Identifying where your sense of value and worth come from and separating productivity from purpose. Okay…that sounds complicated…yes and it is simple if you decide that it is.
So how do we work around our longstanding habit of to-doing for the sake of doing and start to to-do with a sense of purpose?
Focus on WHY and categorize our to-dos under a bigger, SMARTer GOAL!
Here is my mindset strategy designed just for you!
You can use this for any size vision or goal over any specified period of time.
Start with creating your SMART goals…you remember those right?!? We’ll get to them in a minute…
If you started thinking and quickly realized that you have a lot of goals, ask yourself if there is a greater or over-arching goal that would incorporate a number of smaller goals/tasks. If you still have quite a few big goals, before setting them as SMART goals, prioritize them (this WILL challenge you to literally put your life in rank-order…HINT Goals that are 100% about and for YOU are meant to be at the top of the list! When you are at your best you have the best to give …remember to “fill your cup first!”).
Decide which GOAL is the most important (an actual priority…remember the longer your priority list the less of a priority any of the items on the list are) and…
Make it SMART
- SPECIFIC – What exactly will your goal look like when it’s achieved? Ask yourself what it is you want from your life, out of your life? What do you want your life to look like, feel like in 1 year from now? More time, more energy, more money, to create more memories, acquire more things, create more of an impact? Be specific.
- MEASURABLE – How will you know you have achieved your goal? What will you have/not have or be/not be when your goal is achieved that you don’t have/not have or are/are not now?
- ATTAINABLE – Looking at your available currencies (time, money and energy) is it reasonable to assume that your goal is attainable? Stretch yourself a bit here. If your resources seem limited now, think ahead to your future self and visualize the potential resources you may/will have if you were to start taking steps towards your goal today.
- RELEVANT – Does your goal connect directly to your WHY/Purpose/Core Values? Not sure of your WHY? Access my eWorkbook “F*ck That Should – Find Your JOY” and begin to figure it out . Not sure of your Core Values? Discover them by doing the In Her Element Values Assessment.
- TIME-BOUND – Crucial component. Being time-bound gives you a path and sense of accountability. Select a time-frame that is within reason and makes you want to throw up a bit…(that’s how you know it’s right!) Make it non-negotiable and if the time-frame is far into the future set milestone dates for reassessment (i.e. weekly, monthly, quarterly).
Now, let’s get to the “To-Dos”…
(Get the PDF of MASTER YOUR TO-DO LIST HERE)
1 – You have a couple of options to start with to determine your next step which will help you hone in on your To-Dos that are purpose driven.
A – Use backwards design: Visualize what your GOAL will look/feel like in great detail once you achieve it, and then ask yourself “What is the last thing I needed/did before I achieved my goal?” Continue to ask yourself “What is the last thing I needed/did before I got that? Before I did that?” and so on and so forth. The purpose of this activity is to identify all the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be and most importantly to determine your NEXT STEP.
B – If backwards design doesn’t appeal to you, or your goal is amazingly new to you and you don’t believe you know what the steps will be, you can ask your inner self for guidance. There is a part of you, your highest self that has a great sense of what will take you where you want to go. Tap into your intuition and listen. Take a quiet moment, sit comfortably, allow your eyes to close and take 3 deep breaths, inhale for 4, hold for 4 and exhale for 8. Allow yourself to visualize who and where you are 1, 2, 3 years in the future with your GOAL achieved. Really dig deep and get into your future. Visualize as many details as possible, color, sounds, people, location and say to yourself “The first thing I did to achieve this goal was…” Allow yourself to complete the sentence. Repeat the statement over and over and listen to what your gut tells you. You WILL know the answer when you hear it, feel it. You WILL know your next step.
Set up your “To-Dos” as the tasks to be completed in order to accomplish your NEXT STEP. Formulate and prioritize your to-do lists based on how each task relates and connects to your Goal…When you begin to sense that your list is not on target, ask yourself: “Does this task/action take me closer to where I want to go? Is the use of my resources (time/money/energy) needed to accomplish this task aligned with my goal? Will doing this task/action free up more resources for me in the future? Is their secondary gain to this task, (doing it will open doors/relationships/resources) that will take me closer to where I want to be?”
2 – Based on the milestone time-frame you decided on, assess your progress:
- Measure where you are in comparison to where you were. Use any method of measurement that appeals to you: journal to reflect on how far you’ve come, or create charts of your progress if that’s your thing…find the methodology that works for you and stick to it.
3 – Reflect and reassess your SMART goal:
- Increase the specificity now that you have learned more about what it takes to achieve your GOAL.
- Evaluate your resources and confirm attainability. Reorganize resources where necessary.
- Ensure it is still relevant to your WHY/Purpose/Core Values.
- Adjust the time-frame based on your current knowledge and understanding.
NB reassessing in this way is the #1 way to reframe FAILURE INTO FEEDBACK and ensure that your goals are purpose driven If you are not on track, or even if you are, reassessing where you are in relation to where you want to go, will give you the opportunity to enhance your learning and delve deeper into your growth mindset.
5 – Repeat steps 1 through 3 until your goal is achieved!
Trust that the great things you are working towards are getting closer with each step you take. The reflective work, asking yourself “Is this what I really want to be doing? Will this get me closer to what I want? In the greater context of my GOALS, will this move me forward?” is where the magic happens!
When we go about living, and to-doing, without thinking about what we are doing, we often find ourselves on the wrong end of regret and disappointment. “Oh I wish I had of…wish I said…wish I’d thought of…wish I’d known…I wish…” How often do you say or hear “Hindsight is 20/20“?
I wonder if we spent a bit more time and energy, using our foresight, our reflective practice, would we realize that we have the power to be proactive and that lives built on reactivity do not serve us? I think we would learn very quickly that the quickest way to get what we want, to live a life on purpose, is to stop and be SMART about what we are doing!
Are you ready to:
- Have more time and energy
- Take back control of your life
- Set and achieve purpose driven goals
Sound good and you still need a little extra support?