Ten lists to inspire you to action
BY THE UNSTUCK DUCK
Feeling listless? Make a list!
It’s amazing how a to-do list can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes it can be a very effective tool to get stuff done. Sometimes it can add to the overwhelm of how much we have to do in a day. Does a to-do list inspire you? That’s awesome. Does it generally get written and left on the counter once you rush out the door? That’s more like it.
As an entrepreneur, I find I have days when I have so much to do, but no idea where to start – OR – I have no idea what I have to do, so I don’t know what to start. On those days, I find it helpful to refer back to the old adage “If you’re feeling listless, make a list.”
But some days a to-do list is not the list I want to make. Some days, I need more than that to inspire me. If you are feeling uninspired, here are some suggestions to help you get out of that funk!
1) The Scrub-it List
2) The Big Picture List
3) The Easy List
4) The Avoidance List
5) The Upcoming Date List
6) The Inspiring People List
7) The Top Three Things List
8) The Bucket List
9) The Thankful List
10) The YAH YOU ARE! List
The Scrub-it List
This list is of all the things you’ve got taking up space in your brain. These are the “Incompletes” that rob you of your positive, creative energy. Making this list and clearing it out is like cleaning out the junk drawer – you may find once you “deal with it”, all you really need is some pens and that extra charger block.
Scrub-it items are things like:
- Courses you have started but not finished
- Agreements you have made but not followed up on
- Things you’ve said you will do, but haven’t done
- Things you have agreed to that you don’t really want to do – and therefore are hanging there needing to be “dealt with.”
- Bills you need to pay
- People you owe money to
- Subscriptions you’ve meant to cancel
- Conversations you’ve been avoiding
- Projects that are half done
- All the stuff that you “should be doing”, or “should have done”. (Note: I never use the word should. I use quotes there because that’s the negative self talk that’s making you feel shame. Stop shoulding all over yourself!)
The Big Picture List
This is your ideal life list. Paint a picture of what you want for your life/career/business/relationships. This may be many lists. Be creative, and write out in details what your ideal life is in 5/10/20 years. Some ideas:
- Where do you live?
- What do you do to make money?
- What do you drive?
- Who is with you?
- Whose lives are better for having you in it?
- What does it feel like to be you, having achieved that?
The Easy List
This is your simple – holy cow, I need to do SOMETHING to feel accomplished today. This is the list of things that you were already going to do today, but you want to be able to check them off the list. What’s interesting about this list is that it somehow helps things magically fall into place.
Every day I look at my calendar to see what appointments I have. I see how much white space I have between calls, and I compare all the “easy” things to the amount of white space I have. Being clear on how much time I have in a day allows me to be more gracious with myself. If I only have an hour of free time, why should all over myself about the 80 things I’m trying to jam into that space?
The Avoidance List
Ha – this one is a kicker. Have you ever had a running “to do” list that you carried over from day to day? If something has been on that running to do list for more than a week, you are avoiding it for one reason or another.
Take a moment to write out all the things you’ve been avoiding and ask yourself why. Do you really want to do this? At what point will you choose to do it? It could be that it’s something that you neither want to do, nor will ever choose to do – which allows you to be proactive and take it OFF the list.
This is the “donate” or “delegate” box of the purge process. Imagine those tasks as ball and chains around your neck – they are weighing you down! Once you take note of the things you’re avoiding, you can make a choice. Eat the frog and do it, or deal with it another way – by farming it out to someone that will. If you choose to continue to carry it around, you’re only holding yourself back.
The Upcoming Date List
Some people are really good at managing their time. Others do all of their shopping on Christmas Eve. When was the last time you got out an actual paper calendar and took a look at what’s coming up for you? Birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, tax due dates… Some things happen every year, and we know they are coming, but still they sneak up on us every. single. year.
Jack Kornfield said “the trouble is, you think you have time.” We all think we have more time that we actually do. Getting clear on what we want to accomplish in the time we are given is an art.
So make a list of all of the important dates and deadlines that are upcoming, and plan accordingly.
The Inspiring People List
“Success leaves clues!” ~Tony Robbins
We all have people that we admire – dead or alive. Looking at the values, traits and attributes of the people that have influenced your life for the better will help you define who YOU want to be.
Make a list of people that inspire you. These can be people that have what you want, that inspire you to be better, that motivate you to be the best version of yourself, that make you feel good about yourself. Then write two or three words that best describe the traits or characteristics that they embody that draws you to them.
You may find some themes!
The Top Three Things List
When you’re looking at the things you want to do – whether in your business, your day, your year or your life – try sorting them according to priority. What are the top three things you can do today to move you closer to your goals? If you focus on three things that you want to accomplish in a day, it’s easier to avoid the overwhelm, because you know that they three most important things you had to do today can be done.
The Bucket List
The Bucket List differs from the Big Picture List in that it’s more of a wish list of things that you would like to do before you die.
I like to start this as a dream list. Free form this list – all things from skydiving to snorkeling the Great Reef. There are no limits to the dream list.
Then, look at each item and ask yourself “what’s stopping me from doing this now?” The top two objections are always time and money. So – ask yourself “If time and money were not an issue, would this be something I would want to do today?”
This exercise will eliminate the things that are just lip service. It will also help you look in the mirror and your current behaviour to see if you’re acting in your best interest. For example, if you say you want to climb Kilimanjaro, but always choose the elevator over the stairs and get winded walking the dog, you may want to assess that goal.
The Thankful List
It has been proven over and over that the benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. It increases your positivity and self esteem, improves your mental health, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and in general, will make you a happier person. A daily gratitude practice is one of the most effective inspiration tools you can implement.
Think about the people you enjoy spending time with. Are they complainers? Are YOU a complainer? Flip that switch and look for the things you can be thankful for instead. You’ll be surprised how the benefits are almost instantaneous!
The YAH YOU ARE! List.
This is my most important list.
I have a list on my phone of every good thing about myself. I have this as a reminder on those days when I feel down on myself, or when my stinkin’ thinkin’ kicks in. When I have an interaction with someone that make me feel “less than”, or when I start to wonder whether I’m good enough, I can look at that list of my accomplishments and positive traits and imagine my biggest cheerleader proclaiming “YAH YOU ARE!!” It’s things like:
- I am a good mom.
- I am a great friend.
- I am an amazing coach.
- I am kind.
- I am capable.
- I am smart.
- I am beautiful.
- I am effective.
- I am lucky.
- I am worth it.
- I am blessed.
Start writing – and keep going. Every time you get a compliment, add it to your list. And every now and then, read it out loud to yourself. Every single one of those things is true.
As the Unstuck Duck, I would love to help you with your lists! As an Empowerment Strategist, I can help you figure out what’s holding you “stuck” and help you move past into a life that’s both fulfilling and profitable. Send me a message – I’d love to chat!
Teri is a Certified Executive Coach through Royal Roads University, and a graduate of the Purpose Project™. She lives in Victoria BC with her husband Jeff, a revolving door of teenagers, her awesome golden mountain dog Indy, and a one-eyed cat named Tallie.
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