The natural tendency at this time of the year is to write about how great or awful the previous year was and how hopeful we are for the next year. I bet if you looked back through your life of Christmas letters and magazine articles, you would see that trend every year.
Every year there is change and uncertainty. Every month there is risk and fear. Every day we are busy, over-worked and under-paid. It’s time to move on.
What can we do right now to make the next moment better?
One of my favorite quotes that pertain to this is from Bob Proctor who is known to have said, “The biggest gap in your life is between what you know and what you do.” We do know what we need to do.
If you spent the right amount of time doing the right thing on the right project, you could begin to make the next moments better. There is a difference between activity and achievement. Here is a very simple tool to use. It does NOT involve technology. Although there are thousands of apps to address prioritizing, I don’t want to further clutter your device. Wait, maybe your phone is the issue?!?!
Anyway, get a postcard (i.e. 3 x 5 card). On one side of the postcard put the date and write down the six things you need to do for the day. You can do it before you go to bed at night, when you get up in the morning or maybe at the end of the workday. (As an aside, make sure you actually have an end to your workday!) After you write the six items down, prioritize them from one through six, numbering them each. Then as you do each of the tasks in order, cross or check them off, whichever makes you feel better. Make a commitment to do those before anything else. If you can do this for twenty-one days and create a habit, you will find what might be a major change between what you know and what you do.
At the end of each week or month, take a look back at the notecards. Celebrate your accomplishments. Along the way you may have to break bigger tasks into smaller ones to put on the postcard. Solving world peace would not be a good thing to put on your postcard but maybe committing one intentional act of kindness would be a first step toward solving world peace.
A second favorite quote of mine from President Teddy Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is where the other side of the postcard comes into play. As you go through the day, write down the positive things that happen in your life. It could be as simple as you sent a handwritten note to a customer. List as many things as you can from throughout the day, but they have to be positive. They have to show you care.
When you go home at the end of the day you have your list of accomplishments on one side and positive activities on the other. When you talk with your roommate, spouse, partner, family member, friend or whoever, you can now have a positive conversation about your day. How often do we complain when we come home? You don’t have to remind people you are busy but instead share what you actually accomplished and how you cared for others.
Doing and caring is a pretty good way to start AND finish the day, month or year. Make it a habit!