Each day offers us a new promise.  A new beginning. A chance to do better and be a better person at home, work, and everything else in between. We set goals for ourselves to accomplish.  It starts off good.

But then the kids wake up, the phone rings, the emails come through, Facebook and Twitter messages come in, a conference call occurs, lunch happens, client meetings, and then next thing you know, it’s dinner time. Time to relax. Sip a good cup of tea, a cup of coffee, wine (or whatever your choice might be), and then bedtime.  We then lay our head down on our pillow, look up in the dark room and think to ourselves:

“What did we really accomplish today? What happened to our promises to ourselves? Sure, we were busy, but did we get the right things done?  Did we forget or just talk ourselves out of our vision to do better today because we were too busy?”

In this post, I’ll share with you three ways to change this routine.

Write it down

Keeping yourself accountable is one of the best ways to see measurable results.  Think of one to three things you want to do differently and write them down.  This is the “what”.  It could be anything at all, like I want to run a 5k, I want to learn how make sushi, I want to become a better public speaker, etc. From there, write down why this goal is important to you. It might seem foreign or bizarre, but it will feel good after you do it. Next, write down where you need to be in order to accomplish those things you wrote down (i.e., the gym, a community college course, at home, etc). Then, write down when you believe you can accomplish these things and jot down key milestones you want to accomplish along the way (i.e., rewarding yourself for finishing week 4 of an 8 week running course).  Be honest with yourself in your time commitments. Finally, and most importantly, write down how you are going to feel when you finish.  How will your spouse feel?  How will a business partner feel?  Knowing how you’ll feel is almost more important than knowing what you want to do because it enables you to clearly define the outcome.

Check it off

Create a chart.  Nothing fancy.  In fact, make one that you can physically check off.  It will feel better!  On this chart, you’ll check off every day that you plan to accomplish this task.  For instance, if I promise myself I will run three times a week so that I can run a 5k, I will check off each time I do it.  When I get to week 4, I’ll have a place that shows I’ve accomplished a key milestone.  All too often we get caught up in “which app should I use” but I assure you, simple pen and paper will win here – and if you put it in a place that you will always see, it will help keep yourself accountable.

Review what you’ve accomplished

Each week, review the checkmarks on the chart.  Did you accomplish what you set out to do for that week?  What few things went right for you?  What challenges did you have?  What could have gone better or differently? What did you learn about yourself during this process?  Writing a log at the end of each week helps you to “think out loud” about the things that will help you.  When you successfully complete those one to three things (because you can!), reward yourself.  You’ve honored your commitments.  Write down how it feels and then compare that to what you wrote down in the beginning.  Do you feel the same? Better? Different?  How has your life changed, if any, as a result?

If you follow these three steps, each day won’t just be a chance to do better or become better … you will be better as a result! You will be able to go through the course of your day more confident, and when you rest your head on your pillow and look up in the dark room and think to yourself about what you accomplished during the day, you can smile and sleep better!

(Photo credit: Child with Raised hand Making a Promise via Shutterstock)

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