Not sure how to do it all?
Level up. Make progress.
Take care of the present. Be in the moment.
Keep an eye on the future. Invest in tomorrow.
When I’m coaching, I spend a lot of time on systems that facilitate life; defining what processes, habits, or decisions are good for you, for your quality of life, and for your family. It depends on what you want out of life.
One of my favorite quotes is “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”. I use it a lot to reframe focus and find the urgency for transformational change.
This morning I read another good one: “time is how you spend your love”. Wow. #igetit That’s what I was trying to say. You only have so much of YOU to go around. And life is not a massive to-do list, but an opportunity to fall in love with the experience of being alive. Productivity is only part of it.
But the reality is, we are consistently being pulled in 1,000 directions. Then on top of that, we get mixed messages about being mindful vs. investing in the future. Those concepts are seemingly at odds, right? Not really.
There’s a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”. It means that our life is a culmination of this moment and all the things we did up until this moment. To shape the future, we must act now. #whoa
Falling in love with the experience of being alive means feeling peaceful and connected to everything while thriving. It’s stillness and exhilaration at the same time. It’s loving what you do and who you do it with. The secret to having all of that is choosing activities that cultivate all of that, choosing activities that expand the current moment and take care of the future.
One easy way to figure out what those activities are for you is to simplify, clarify, and prioritize. Or, make it a game and score yourself each day. On a scale of 1–10, if you are scoring on the low end, your systems need improvement. However, if you are scoring on the high end, you’ve found your sweet spot…and, drumroll please, you get to live the life you want to live. #amazing
Here’s how it works:
1) Name your top three priorities. These should be the things that matter most to you, that you can’t live without, that inspire your actions and motivate you to be a better person. Mine are 1) my family 2) my business and 3) flow (flow is getting into the zone of happiness and clarity, where I lose self-consciousness and tap into my infinite potential while doing fulfilling, meaningful, and challenging work).
2) When you plan your day, choose one high-impact high-ROI activity to move forward on each of your three priorities. Examples: Don’t put “write a book” on your list, put “write for 1 hour”. Don’t put “clean the garage” on the list, put “organize the toolbox and put all the bikes away”. Don’t put “get the kids ready to start school” on the list, put “buy school supplies and order uniforms”. Don’t put “build a marketing plan”, put “outline brand attributes and define buyer personas”. Make it achievable.
Then, score one point or give yourself one gold star for each activity you accomplish. These count as “mindful” activities because if you are fully present in the activity, you’ll lose yourself and make massive progress (an aspect of flow). And, they need to be done, so you’ll get the feel-good boost for checking it off your list.
And, if you want to keep a master list with all of the things you want to accomplish, the big ideas and dreams vs. the logistics and survival necessities, go for it. Do that too. Just break the big stuff down into daily assignments for the purposes of this game.
*Important Note: Your environment is the number one determining factor that influences your performance, at home, at work, at school, etc. Get this right above all other things. The better suited your environment is to you — inspiring, comforting, motivational, no distractions — the faster you’ll get in the right mindset for high performance, and the easier it will be to stay in the moment (and find your flow). I’m working on a post about this and can’t wait to share some really cool, definitive research on all the ways that your environment sets the tone for your life.
3) Pick one to three activities you can do daily to enhance your future. Work out. Eat well. Meditate. Get a checkup. Call/email/text/visit someone and tell them what they mean to you (share gratitude). Plan the next 30–60–90 days. Plan a trip. Review your insurance providers. Bump up your 401k contribution. Make an appointment with someone you really want to see.
Then, score one point for each activity. These activities count as “investment” activities because you are laying the groundwork for future benefit to yourself or others. Maybe you are planting a seed. Maybe you are watering your garden. Maybe you are envisioning a different outcome and letting the past go. Progress is progress and it is divine. Gold stars for you.
4) Observe yourself. Notice when you have an opportunity to choose differently, to choose better. If your children interrupt your work, instead of shouting and postponing their enthusiasm, how about taking 5–15 minutes to postpone your work and share their joy? If your hubby puts the moves on you when you’re exhausted, let romance carry you away. If you see a massive pile of laundry that is making you crazy, let it sit until after you have accomplished your top three high-ROI activities.
If someone in your life is a time-suck, energy-suck, or soul-suck, put them in “the parking lot” (a holding zone that creates boundaries and self-preservation) for a day, week, month. You don’t have to cut them off, but you don’t have to put them on your list either.
Prioritize your day to tackle steps 1, 2, and 3, then dive a little deeper on your list. Give yourself a point for making a better choice, one that enhances the moment or the future. Score two points, give yourself two gold stars if it enhances both!
5) Total it up at the end of your day and give yourself a number and an emoji that reflects your score on your calendar. Record it for 30 days. What patterns did you notice? Were you happy with your progress? Did your emojis reflect the tone of your month? What was the difference between good days and bad days? What changed? What else can change? Did you build momentum? What’s next for you?
And that’s it! 5 easy steps to live better now.
Final Thought: Gamification is making a game of something, measuring it, and taking a snapshot of your progress. It works because reward, status, and achievement tap into our natural instincts of competition, exploration, and curiosity. It can incentivize action by delivering intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
If you have a string of 10-star days, congrats and please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you did it!