I LOVE to do lists. I live by them.
How do you even publish, print, deliver and sell 60 yearbooks a year without them?
I’d take time each morning, each Sunday night, each month to plan, to figure out what I needed to get done and by when.
I still do.
My mentor told me it was the difference between running a business and letting the business run you.
It’s so easy to be reactive, to only deal with what’s coming at you, to miss some really important, expensive deadlines, opportunities. To survive instead of thrive.
It’s allowed me to look at the big picture and then be flexible with the details.
And when I have my list, the first thing I do is tackle the little things. The ones I can do easily. To get some easy wins. To build momentum.
When I know where I want to be, I take stock of where I am now and work towards the middle. Because what I can get done now is easy to plan and so is the stuff that has to wait till the end, but the middle… the middle is where it gets messy. So I work towards the middle and when I get there, somehow it’s shifted it’s not the middle anymore. It’s the next few steps and those are now clearer.
And then there are things that are hard to check off a list.
I was sitting in a park one day when my sister called.
She was overwhelmed and needed to talk. I told her about to do lists and how it helps with overwhelm. We’re so often overwhelmed by everything - by the big white abyss. And when we sit and write a list, even if there are 5, 25, 100 things on it, somehow it gets more manageable.
And in a moment that will always make me smile and giggle just a little bit, she very lovingly put me in my place. She said something about becoming a better parent being hard to put and to check off on a list.
She’s right. She’s so right.
So I thought about it a lot. I still am.
I found myself speaking to a friend on the same topic just a few days later.
The truth is, sometimes I just have to ditch the lists. There have been times when I’ve been so lost that I haven’t even known what to put on the list.
And in those moments, all I could come up with was one thing I could do for:
myself (my health)
others (my relationships)
my work and business
Because the big goals I have are all around the kind of person I want to be. And when you focus on the one thing you can do - consistently - every day, little by little, that’s where the magic happens.
Maybe it’s the one cold call every day instead of a full day of cold calling every three months. Maybe it’s taking five mins to call someone every week instead of the week long visit during Christmas. Maybe it’s a 15 minute work out every day instead of an hour and a half every three weeks.
They add up.
They make the greatest impact.
And when we look back a month, a year, five years from now, all a sudden we are imperfectly better than before.
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