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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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