When you wake up each morning, what’s the first thing you start thinking about?
Might I be right in assuming it’s your to do list; meetings and appointments; house chores and responsibilities; stresses and worries about the future?
How about when you finish your working day or when you get into bed each night? How do you evaluate your day? What do measure your success by?
Could it be that you measure your success by how productive you were; how many things you managed to accomplish and how well you performed?
I’m not going to pretend that these things don’t matter, they do, but the sad thing is that being productive in our jobs and primary roles i.e. constantly doing and doing things well enough, has become our primary focus. It’s also how we measure our self-worth.
We equate being busy, productive and performing to a good enough standard with being successful, worthy, important, and ‘having a life.’
There’s no denying that we are all busier than ever before, largely due to being constantly available to receive and respond to calls, messages, emails and notifications. There’s a sense of being ‘switched on’ 24/7.
But what if this need to be busy and this measure of success is not actually serving us or fulfilling us?
What if the things we prioritise are actually distracting us from what really matters to us in life?
What if our constant busyness is preventing us from realising and moving towards what we truly desire?
I felt inspired to redefine what I would class as a successful day. Instead of focusing purely on how many work tasks and responsibilities I check off my list, I explored the things that held the greatest meaning for me, in terms of what I most value and enjoy.
I created a new checklist of questions that I remind myself of throughout the day and that I can reflect on at the end of the day. I’d like to share it with you in the hope that it might inspire you to review your own priorities and definition of a successful day.
Here it is:
- Did you move your body with intent and joy?
- Did you nourish your body with healthy food?
- Did you hydrate your body with plenty of water?
- Did you get outside and connect with nature even if only briefly?
- Did you smile and/or laugh from your heart?
- Did you take at least one conscious breath?
- Did you zoom out and remember your place in this mind-blowing universe that we live in?
- Did you lovingly connect with others?
- Did you contribute to the world in some way?
- Did you learn something?
- Did you feel inspired?
The aim here is not to set another standard of perfection where your worthiness depends on you answering ‘yes’ to all the questions but instead to be aware of these key areas as you go through your day and to incorporate as many of them as you can into your day.
If you don’t incorporate them all, that’s OK.
Notice which areas come easily to you and which ones you may be neglecting or find more challenging. Then decide what you can do differently in order to incorporate the latter.
Pay attention to how you feel throughout your day and at the end of each day and see if you can determine what contributed to that feeling, whether it is good or bad. Then aim to do more of what makes you feel good and less of what makes you feel bad!
To help you in terms of time management and motivation, you might benefit from scheduling certain activities at certain times, such as having a non-negotiable morning self-care routine where you move your body, take some conscious breaths and eat a healthy breakfast.
Another example might be making it a habit to go outside for a mindful walk during your lunch break or after work or listening to an inspiring podcast or audiobook whenever you’re in your car.
Remember, even though we may deeply value and enjoy these activities, it doesn’t mean they are easy to engage in every day. We will always have ‘things’ going on; new things added to our list, unexpected things that we need to take care of, endless distractions from technology.
But the more we commit to the things that really matter most to us and make them a non-negotiable part of our day, the more natural and effortless they will become (and the more positive impact they will have).
It’s time to drop the excuses that we don’t have time, it’s time to drop the belief that we must live up to society’s standards of success, and it’s time to start living life on our terms.
To me, that means a life of purpose, passion and balance.
What does it mean for you?