Make a list, check it twice

I’m overwhelmed.  I’m tired.  I can’t handle everything.

These are three of my wife’s least favorite things to hear come out of my mouth because they represent my emotions in a downward spiral.  When I get in this mode, it is difficult to see the good in my life — my family, my church, my job, my house.

Sometimes when we get in this mode, it feels like we are never going to get out of it.

My exit strategy is “the list.”

 I need a list that is significant, doable,  and a base for moving forward the next day.

Here is my list for when I am stuck:

1) Do one thing that will help me reach my most important goal ( good for the long term).

2) Do one thing that I have been putting off ( good for reducing stress or facing fears).

3) Do one thing that my wife, children, boss or co-workers will be happy to have done (impact other people).

4) Do one thing that I want to do ( this list is for ME after all).

My list for the next 24 hours looks like this:

1) Go over the feedback from Jordan on one particular short story and submit it.

2) Talk to my neighbors about the fence line so I can get my fence moved before they sell their house.

3) Start the ball rolling on the next edition of the HP-UX recovery handbook.

4) Work on the lineups and playbooks for my football simulation game

Now, I don’t have to worry about the other 250 things on my to-do list tomorrow.  I can do the four above and know that I have made progress in four areas of my life (three significant and two fun — #1 counts for both).

Ending your day on a positive note

The day is over.

You’ve worked hard all day.

And you feel like crap.

What happened?

There are many things that can contribute to this sense of failure but the most common that I have found in my own life is that either haven’t worked on the most important things in my goal setting or more likely, I’ve focused on the things that I haven’t done instead of what I have done.

We’ll tackle doing the most imporant things in another post, but let’s look first at the END OF THE DAY FOCUS.

It doesn’t matter if your goal focus is on losing weight, writing books, or just getting through another day of work.  Each of us has a given amount of time and an ever growing to do list. 

What We Do Wrong

1) We focus on the things that are still on our to do lists.

We need to realize that we will NEVER do everything on our to do list.  Life simply offers too many opportunities for us to grow as people. 

You finally got the synopsis written for your book?   Great, now you have to screen agents and re-read your first chapter for the 100th time to make sure it’s what you want to use to introduce yourself to the publishing world.

Finally lost the five pounds you gained at Christmas?  Now you start thinking about the twenty-five pounds you’ve gained since college.

2) We focus on the lack of milestones

Let’s say that I write for four hours and create twenty new pages in the next best selling novel.  As I walk past the wall in my basement, I see the schedule I had for last year that shows me having an agent three months ago and having already departed on my book tour by now.  Am I excited about my twenty pages any more?  No, I’m ready to throw myself in front of a bus.

You just did P90-X and you’re pumped but as you get ready for your shower you decide to step on the scale and you find you’re up a pound from you’re last weigh-in … oh yeah, that cheeseburger at Chilis yesterday.  Still feeling great about P90-X?  Nope, now you’re face is dragging on the floor because of your weight.

Fix the problem — Ask the right questions

Let’s take my day today as an example.

I have 25 major goals for this year.

I have a to-do list of 130 items (many of which re-occur daily or weekly so this list never gets small).

I have a list of 25 specific things for THIS WEEK ( and that doesn’t include the list for work).

I have a list of 8 things that I want to make sure happen today.

1) Can I ever clear my whole to do list?

No. 

And I need to remember that.  My “to do” list is a false measuring stick.  It will only lead you one direction — to failure.

2) What one thing can I do better tomorrow?

Why a negative question?

Because if I don’t give the analytical side of my brain his five minutes, he will keep me up ALL NIGHT LONG thinking about what went wrong.

The answer today is that I allowed myself to get sucked into the internet instead of taking time to reflect this morning.  So tomorrow I need to have my quiet time FIRST before I even turn on the computer.

3) What areas of your life did you make at least a baby step forward in today?

List ALL of the areas that you made progress in. 

Here’s my list for today.  The item from my to-do list first and the goal area in parenthesis:

a) abandoned my fourteen year old, high school daughter at the library for an hour and a half (listening to my children’s requests).  My daughter loves the library and hates that we are overly efficient in our in and out approach to the library.

b) connected with people at church (connect better with people).  For me this means making eye contact, not looking over people’s shoulders for someone else to go talk to, and finding at least one new person to greet and engage in conversation.

c) catch up finances and verify that Publix takes coupons from the internet ( make good use of my resources).  It was UGLY since it was the first time since Christmas that the bills have been caught up, but it’s done and now I can spend (or not spend) properly for the rest of the week as well as communicate to my wife where we are for the month.  The coupon thing will hopefully come into play down the road.

d) buy a player on Hattrick (www.hattrick.org) ( enjoy gaming by myself and with friends ).  I told you to list every area and this is one of my favorite areas.

e) hydrate ( take better care of  my body ).  I’m trying to get better at drinking a lot of water to help cut down on my hunger and just because it’s good for me.

f) prayed with my family during communion ( pray more with my family ).  Self explanatory.

g) Fix the “About” on my wordpress page.

Wow … seven areas … I rocked today.  I missed two, but did “g” even though it wasn’t on the list today.  Forget the two.  Forget the 17 others for this week.  Forget the list of 130.  I made progress in SEVEN ares of life today, I rock.

4) What am I most proud of today?

Hmmm… It’s a long list.  I rocked today.  It may be hard to choose.

I’m going to go with “abandon my daughter at the library for an hour” because I listened to my wife and remembered what she said that our daughter had said to her AND because I know that made my daughter happy.

5) Fix number 4 in your mind

I will go to bed thinking of today as the day I abandoned my daughter at the library, hoorah!

A new year and a new blog

The past year was a year of rest and reflection in the area of writing and now it’s time to get busy with blogging and writing.