Do you wish you had more days that ended with statements like this? We can. We just have to decide what will make it awesome, amazing, great in advance. Let me tell you what I mean.
Too often we feel like life is getting in the way of all the things we want or need to get done. We end up feeling like all the other things that keep us busy are stealing away our amazing, our awesome, our incredible, great day! We end up feeling ridiculously busy all day but ask ourselves “what did I really accomplish?” I know I have felt that way and my wife has expressed the very same thing to me on more than one occasion. We’ve bought into the idea that because we have external demands on our time and energy that aren’t always in line with some unrealistic vision of “the perfect day” that we give up on awesome before we’ve even started our day. We start to judge our day by the things that matter least to us rather than focusing on things that matter most.
Most moms and dads I know keep some form of a to-do list. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from crossing something off the list but it never lasts. Once one thing is crossed off the list we’re bombarded by the other thousand things on the list. We start to define our days, our lives and even ourselves by all the unimportant things that remain on the list. Now, I’m not suggesting that there is no place for a good to-do list. I’m only suggesting that there is a better way to tackle the list that emphasizes the most important things in our lives rather than the distractions.
Create a new kind of list
I was recently introduced to a wonderful little book called “The Five Minute Journal” by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas www.fiveminutejournal.com. I call it a book because it gives an explanation of the purpose of the journal at the front of the book but the part that really changes your life is not what you get out of the book but what you put into it. The journal is a series of five questions to be completed in the morning and evening. It literally takes no more than 5 minutes to complete. The five minute journal is made up of the follow 5 elements…
Gratitude: The journal invites us to write 3 things we are grateful for each morning. These could be big or small. The point is simply to give a moment to recognizing the things you are grateful for each and every day.
Daily Goals: The second part is to write 3 things that will make today great. This is where the list comes in. It’s important to take a second look at our never-ending to-do list and ask ourselves, “Which of these things is most important to me and which can I realistically do today?” Identify that 1, 2, or 3 things that are most important and write them down and put the rest of the list away, out of sight and out of mind. Sometimes the most important things I identify are not necessarily from my to-do list but I know that if I am able to do that 1 thing, it will dramatically improve my day. One day not too long ago I had been so busy working on various business goals and other things that narrowed this area to just one thing I felt I needed that day to make it awesome. All I wrote was, “Find time to play with the kids!” You know, I accomplished it and the day was great!
Affirmation: The third morning task is to write one self affirming statement. Years ago I read some research that suggested that affirmations along are not effective unless the affirmation is a statement that we truly buy into, one that we truly believe. So the task here is to write one statement that encourages and reminds you of your greatest strengths.
What went great? This question is supposed to be completed at the close of our day and act as a review and acknowledgment of the awesomeness we created that day. It is a time to reflect and simply acknowledge the things that you followed through on and realize if it is bedtime and you look at your list of things that would make today great and see that you have not accomplished one of them, stop and do it right then. If you wrote that exercise would make today awesome, drop and do 20 push ups before you climb in bed. If you wanted to get a little reading in your novel in, read a couple pages before you drift off. It is never too late.
What could have made it better? The last thing in the daily journal is an evaluation of what might have gone better. This isn’t an opportunity to complain or degrade yourself but rather to identify possibilities for the future, for growth and for improvement on what is already great!
This 5 minute daily exercise has made a huge impact in my own life to narrow my focus to the things that matter most and recognize my own strengths and victories. It’s allowed me to fulfill my new to-do list that is much smaller but much more meaningful than it used to be. It’s allowed me to focus on what is most important for the day and let the other things take their appropriate back seat and given me the insight to insert some of the little things like undivided attention toward someone you really love into the middle of the humdrum monotony of everyday life. It has helped me to have more great days, more awesome days more amazing days! This isn’t because life has changed all that much around me but because I have stopped long enough to take the time to truly live it!
I hope you will give this 5 minute exercise a try and see how it can bring more amazing days into your life. Let us know what you find in your experience in the comments.