OK, folks. This week, I want to invite you to turn your to-do list on its side. Most of us spend a lot of our days adding things to that never-ending to-do list. And when we get to the end of the day and we’ve diligently checked off as many things as we can, it seems like the list is actually longer than when we started. It is a pervasive thing in our culture—we attend to checking things off a list because it feels good to do it and we get a little brain chemistry hit when it happens. But the problem is we end up putting tasks on those lists rather than priorities, rather than the things that actually align most with our values, and rather than the actions that achieve the best results for us, both personally and professionally.

So, if we were actually looking at our “to-do lists” as “to-be lists,” it would be a game-changer. What if we focused on things like, “How do I want to feel?” and “How do I want to show up in the world with my strengths and my gifts?” everything would be different. Number one, that’s going to create an incredibly important shift in focus and energy. The second thing that we want be doing is looking for how we place actual priorities on those lists rather than just deliverables. Priorities are aligned both with our values and with the things that keep our business doors open, keep a roof over our head, help our families be healthier, and help us serve causes that make a positive difference in the world. So we want to actually step back from that, check a bunch of things off the list, and say, “What did I actually accomplish today?” “What outcome did I actually produce today that moved me toward something meaningful and really important in my life, in my work, in my relationships?” I want you to be thinking about that as you make your lists today (and every day).

And, I also want you to be thinking about the flip side of this topic, which is, what should be on your “stop-doing” list? There are tasks, ways of thinking, habits, and all sorts of those kinds of things that if we actually taking some of those actions or doing some of those behaviors, it opens up a bunch of “white space,” or “buffer zones,” or “margins” in your life that allow you to attend more effectively (and more consistently) to your values, your priorities, and, of course, to be able to be responsive when “life happens.”

Why not think about that this week…how can you turn your to-do list on its side, focus on a to-be list, and choose to create an “achieve meaningful outcomes list?” At the same time, also remember to pull back and say, “What do I need to stop doing? What’s my “not-to-do list?” Enjoy this week’s experiment. And then check it off your list!

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Deanna Davis

Author Deanna Davis

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