This has happened to me for years, and talking with my friends, it sounds like I’m not alone. But I feel like I’ve turned a corner recently. As the one-year mark of our son’s life has approached, my wife and I have been motivated to purge some stuff, finish some projects, and tie up some loose ends. We’ve been putting up art (overdue from when we moved 18 months ago), taking old stuff to thrift stores, and checking items off the list like crazy! To top it all off, it has been fun, and we feel great!
Here’s what changed for me – two things: 1. I got super clear on how I wanted to feel, and 2. I had a shift of mindset that empowered action. Both are simple, but neither was easy. Let’s discuss…
Let’s talk about getting clear first. I started big. I spent a bunch of time recently thinking about and defining what I was wanting out of my life. I thought about how I wanted to feel on a day to day basis. I realized that feeling “settled and calm” was a feeling that I really wanted, but I didn’t have. I felt overwhelmed and just barely holding things together.
This sounds like a simple realization – who doesn’t want to feel settled and calm? But it was huge for me! I regularly practice getting clear on my actions. But getting clear on how I wanted to feel was new. Getting clarity on how I wanted to feel put all my tasks into context. Projects and goals give tasks direction, but feelings gave me a purpose. All of a sudden, the sometimes menial, semi-annoying jobs that I had been putting off (like finally going through the piles in my office) became exciting opportunities to move towards feeling great. I saw my tasks through a new lens and as a result, my priorities and motivation changed.
Second part: The mindset shift was this: I used to think: “I’m a busy guy – that’s how it goes.” I now think: “I deserve to feel the way I want to feel. I deserve to feel light and calm.”
This new mindset translated into different self-talk about doing the tasks on my list. Rather than saying “This is going to be annoying,” I started to tell myself: “I deserve to have this annoying task done with.” This empowered action and helped me build momentum. As I did more tasks, the feeling became more and more tangible, and my progress helped me take more actions.
There’s so much more to say about this – to do lists have a lot of traps you’ll need to avoid, but for today, here’s the advice:
- Get really clear on how you want to feel.
- Start believing that you deserve to feel that way.
Bonus material: Today is the first birthday of our son! It’s amazing to see what’s happened in a year – he’s taken his first steps, learned to play catch (he’s a lefty), and muttered his first word (it was “hot” – uttered as he pointed to my wife’s coffee cup…).