Do you ever find that you keep moving things on your “to do” list from one day to the next? From one week to the next? From one month to the next? How about from one year to the next? I can relate to this. I like lists and I like crossing things off lists, however, I recently realized that I was carrying over more things from one list to the next instead of crossing them off. When I looked into this further, I realized that two things were happening. First, the items on the list that were just for me, and did not involve others, were the items getting bumped. Second, I realized that of the items just for me that were getting bumped, they were the hard things, the boring things, or the things I not confident would turn out exactly as I wanted them to.
The tasks that involved me getting something done for someone else, showing up for someone else, or involved someone else in any way were getting done. It was the things that were just for me, about me, or that did not directly impact anyone else that were not getting done. Once I recognized this, I thought about it quite a bit. The list contained items like scheduling an appointment, organizing a closet so that I cold spend less time looking for things, buying a new pair of sneakers so that I would not continue to get blisters on my heels, finishing an online course, and even writing this blog or social media content. While none of these things are major tasks on a “to do” list, they were not getting done week after week. I was not being accountable to myself.
What I realized is that unconsciously, I was telling myself that my needs did not matter as much as the needs of others so I could keep pushing them off. I was also talking myself out of things that could be more challenging, or that may not turn out as well as I had hoped. I was telling myself that I did not believe in myself. When I realized this, I was able to manage my mind so that I valued my needs as much as the needs of others. I was also able to manage my mind to acknowledge the things that would be more challenging or uncertain and appreciate the process of growth that happens when you do these things, despite the discomfort. Regardless of whether the task involved picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment or sitting down for a block of time and creating a course, I felt better when crossing each one off my “to do” list. Crossing each one off my list was about me telling myself that when I say I am going to do something, I do it.
It was building a muscle of confidence that I will follow through on things, no matter what. It was about me telling me that I will commit to doing the little things that make life easier and the bigger things that make life better and that will help me continue to grow.
When you can put the small things on your “to do” list and get them done, you can then consider the bigger things. What if you always exercised when you said you were going to? What if you meal prepped your food when you said you were going to? What if you started the podcast, wrote the book, asked for the raise, or paid off the debt you said you were going to do.
In addition to keeping the promises to yourself about what you WILL do, what if you also kept the promises to yourself about what you WON’T do. What if when you said you won’t hit snooze you didn’t. What if when you said you were going to stop engaging with someone who makes you feel bad, you stopped? What if you stopped watching three hours of television at night when you said you wanted to read more? What if you cut out the bread and pasta like you said you were going to do, or kept your commitment to not have a drink after work every night?
It is about building a habit of doing what you say you will do. When you are consistent with this, you feel so much more empowered. You are training your brain that if something gets on the “to do” list, that it gets done, no matter what. Maybe it won’t be perfect and maybe it will take a little longer than you wanted but either of those scenarios provides you with an opportunity to go back, learn, and fine tune things. You will start to believe that you can do whatever you set out to do, instead of unconsciously telling yourself that your stuff can wait, or that it will be too hard so you should just keep putting it off.
When you do this, you will notice that it is not at the expense of what you need to do to keep your commitments to others. Those things will also get done because you will be training your brain to work efficiently so that everything on that list gets accomplished. It takes ongoing attention and focus; however, it also generates a lot of personal power to know that regardless of the exact outcome, that when you say you are going to do something, you do it.
Live your best boss lady life.
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