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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 December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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