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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 October 16, 2018

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How irrational fears impact your life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why bother to fight the fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to fight your irrational fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why did this happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The tool kit

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m awesome

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out your emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge that you need to change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose your words carefully.

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe that you have the control power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up physical reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t go it alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

A little fear can be good

As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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