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21 Lists You Need To Keep To Lead A More Satisfying Life

21 Lists You Need To Keep To Lead A More Satisfying Life

I wasn’t always a list-maker. For most of my life I’ve been more of a scraps-of-paper-notes-everywhere-and-5-unfinished-journals-at-a-time type of gal. But after researching and interviewing some of today’s most successful people last year, I’ve realized organization is a fundamental key to success. It’s also not just office organization or systems and processes, it’s organization of one’s entire day, entire week, entire life. Successful, satisfied, happy people have multiple ongoing lists that are prioritized and edited regularly.

If you are like I was, surrounded by post its and ready for change, here are some lists to get you started. Now, the notes app on my iPhone is filled with lists. No matter how you record and store them, consider adding lists to your plan to dominate 2016.

1. Your Essential Priorities

This is a lesson I learned after sitting down with Chalene Johnson, we need a list to guide all lists. Many times we focus on goals for our career or our health, forgetting the many other areas of our life. What is really most important to you overall?  If you were to look back 5 years from now, what will you hope you spent the most time and energy on? Most of the items on this list won’t change much, but after a job loss or an injury, “additional income” or “knee rehab” might be added to this list temporarily. Make a priorities list to guide you through the rest of these lists.

2. Big Life Dreams

Often, we don’t achieve greatness in life because our goals are flat out uninspiring. Paying off debt, losing ten pounds, taking a vacation, these are all great, but do they pump you up for the next year? Will they keep you pushing on when times get tough? Probably not. Take time to envision your dream life in the next year, five year, ten years, if all of your dreams came true, what would life look like? This is another list to guide your subsequent lists, because if it doesn’t line up with your dream life, why bother?

3. Books to Read

Many of us admit we want to read more, but according to a recent survey, more than a quarter of Americans have not cracked open a book—either print or digital—in the past year. I suspect one reason we never reach this goal is that we only think “I want to read more this year!” without writing out a list of books, or considering where and when we can add in time to read. Not sure about which books to read? Consider your big life dreams, what books will help get you there fastest? Also, here’s a great list to get you started.

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4. New Things to Try

According to behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski, new experiences trigger the release of dopamine, motivating us, which in turn leads to neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons and new neural connections. Restaurants, hobbies, recipes, you could build this list into multiple sub-lists. Come March, we run out of steam on our goals, fall into old habits, or simply get bored. Get creative and pull up this list when you feel like you’re stuck in a life rut.

5. Places to Visit

It has happened to all of us, we see a scene in a movie or read a passage in a book, about a particular place, and something stirs in our soul. Take a moment and jot it down. You can also add more abstract, and possibly attainable places, for example “sky scraper restaurant” instead of a specific rooftop spot in New York City.

6. Work Next Steps

Your Big Life Dreams list probably includes landing a coveted title at work, becoming a leader in your field, or starting your own business. Those goals might be six months or six years away, what do you need to do this week? This month? Lists are nothing without action, decide what you can DO, and do soon.

7. Things to Update

You have finally had it at your job, and your resume is two years old. You lose a big client and the testimonials on your website haven’t been touched since you launched your business a few years ago. You’re kicking yourself. We’ve all been there, but to prevent this we need a running list to remind us; update headshot, resume, online portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc.

8. Conferences to Attend

Despite the advances in video conferencing, there is something magical that happens in person. That’s why I choose to go and interview guests for my show in person, even though skype would be easier and cheaper. Conferences and seminars not only take you out of your norm, they spark conversations, connect you with like-minded individuals, and if they’re worth the ticket price, inspire and motivate you. Take note of which conferences leave your colleagues on a post-event-high and consider adding those to your list for the following year.

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9. Random Ideas

This list is solid gold. It could be silly stuff that you jot down after two too many cocktails, or inventions that end up changing entire industries. When inspiration strikes, don’t let it go! Write down your ideas ASAP and refer back often to see what has stuck with you. Jeremy Cowart, celebrity photographer and creative ideator, gives a new idea two months and if he still loves it then he’ll pursue it. (Most don’t make it that long).

10. People to Connect With

Who are the leaders in your industry you’d love to buy coffee? Who is speaking at conferences where you can buy a VIP dinner with them? Who would be a great person to collaborate with someday? Who would you hire as a mentor as soon as you could afford it? John Lee Dumas, founder of Entrepreneur on Fire, which brings in over $250,000 a month, attributes his massive success to investing in a mentor, and that might be the tipping point for you someday soon. Jot it down and consider how and when you can make the connections happen.

11. Things You’ve Accomplished

Like most list-lovers, I am driven and passionate. Many times my drive for future goals leaves me feeling depleted, like I have so much yet to do. Only recently have I discovered the power in jotting down what I have accomplished. It restores hope, it reenergizes dreams and sparks new ideas. Try it weekly or monthly!

12. Quick Tasks

Have ten minutes to spare? You could wipe down your countertops, clean out the trash folder on your computer, or any other number of lingering quick tasks. This list is best for those small things that add up and end up taking hours later if we don’t tackle a little bit each week, like sorting snail mail or organizing your email inbox.

13. To-Do Eventually

Reorganizing your hall closet is not a high priority task, but once a month when you have to dig through it and find yourself wanting to kill someone, it matters. If you find yourself with a plan-free Saturday, knock off a few items on this list.

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14. Things to Buy for Yourself

Like organizing the hall closet, buying a new end table is not something that needs to be done immediately. When you get a bonus you may be temped to buy the new shiny distraction, and having this list will remind you how annoying the wobbly leg on your end table was at your holiday party and equip you to best decide what to spend that bonus on.

15. Gift Ideas

Having just survived through, er, I mean enjoyed, the holidays, you feel me on this one. You see the perfect holiday scarf for your sister in May. You find a perfect gift idea for your dad, but you’ve long forgotten it four months later when his birthday looms. “What was that thing I saw?!” Never again. Jot it down and thank yourself later.

16. Things You No Longer Do

This list can be powerful. You can make this a list of bad habits you’re killing, and writing it in the present tense makes each item a mantra for success. I no longer drink coke. I do not use my phone during family dinner. I have given up sugar for good. Give it a try and see the results.

17. What You’re Grateful For

Another powerful list. There are daily journals built around the power of gratitude, and many daily planners now have a spot for this reflection each day. Feeling #blessed? Write it all out. Feeling blue? Review this list when you are feeling down.

18. Creative Outlets

Creativity is something successful people practice regularly. In today’s fast-paced achievement-focused culture, we can forget that we even have hobbies and interests outside of our work. Grabbing your camera, charcoals, or golf clubs can be as therapeutic as exercise.  Have a list of lingering projects and ideas for rainy days when you’re needing inspiration, or inspired days when you need an outlet for all of your creative juices.

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19. Brain Dump List

If you have no lists, you might want to start with this one. You feel the weight of ten unfinished projects and multiple creative ideas, not even started yet. You’re behind on the lists you do have. Just dump it all out in one sitting, then go back to prioritize and sort. You will feel so much better.

20. Fitness Milestones

When you think about your Big Life Dreams, you probably envision yourself fit and full of energy. That’s not going to happen unless you make health and fitness a habit. Just like you need next steps for your work to get to launching a business, you need to take steps to get to your marathon-running future self. Start with a 5k, giving up chocolate, buying all organic, etc.

21. Financial Milestones

Same as above. You don’t go from debt collectors to debt free overnight. Create a list of steps to get there, for example, Set Budget, Pay Off Visa, Get Student Loan Total Down to $X, etc.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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