I love advice. Love getting it. Love giving it. But there’s a problem with advice: We often don’t take it. And usually, it isn’t because we don’t want to, or don’t intend to. Usually, it’s because we forget.
Think about it: How many times have you read a parenting book or a marriage book, then followed its suggestions to the letter—for about a week? After that, our resolve blurs. We focus on other things, and our best intentions move into our peripheral vision, or even into the background.
Which is where my resolution solution comes in.
Often, when there’s something about my life I’d like to change, I first write down all of my related goals. The process of writing and thinking them through clarifies my intentions and makes my lessons more concrete and practical. It also stores them in my subconscious.
Nothing revolutionary so far. Here comes the real trick: I set the list of resolutions aside. A list that long does me no good; there’s no way I’m going to reread them every day. I put them in a place easily remembered and located later, when I’m struggling to carry them out—in my case, in a special file on my computer. Then I distill down the resolutions into a few concrete actions—just one or two. And I add them to my Monthly Checklist. I give myself an X every time I complete one of the actions, and by month’s end, I can see and appreciate my progress.
My Monthly Checklist isn’t your ordinary checklist. It’s an ongoing to-do list, one that incorporates all–and I do mean all–of my personal and professional goals, including writing, parenting, educational, marriage, exercise, spiritual, friendship goals and more. (Yeah—my checklist is really, really long.)
So maybe it’s corny. But it works; I swear it does. The checklist keeps me accountable, and reminds me of what I am working towards.
My goals don’t live in the back of my mind somewhere anymore. They live with me, and I interact with them several times each week.
Here is an example of my list. This one is from December of last year:
- One day of love and inner body meditation: 30x –
- One day of following inner guidance: 30x –
- One day remembering state of meditation: 30x –
- One day of noticing thoughts, feeling feelings: 30x –
- One Byron Katie thought workup: 30x –
- One negativity brain dump session: 2x –
- One glass of water drank: 30x –
- One exercise session: 20x –
- One special time with Jack: 10x –
- One special time with Xavier: 10x –
- One reading time with kids: 10x –
- One family dinner sharing adventures, gratitudes and mistakes: 4x –
- One family chore time: 4x –
- One at-home date with Dave: 4x –
- One TV show or total break time: 4x –
- One half-hour music listening time: 4x –
- One random act of kindness: 4x –
- One night wearing night guard: 4x –
- One podcast or audiobook for kids: 2x –
- One hour of educational music for kids: 2x –
- One new Mandarin word taught to kids: 2x –
- One science lesson taught to Claus: 1x –
- One homeschool records update: 1x –
- One family memories list update: 1x –
- One book project update: 1x –
- One dinner with friends: 1x –
- One great photo or video of each kid: 1x –
- One therapy session or Work practitioner call: 1x –
- One day with no yelling, mostly positive tone: 20x –
- One family meeting: 1x –
- One book page edited: 20x –
- One reader blog comment-back blitz: 1x –
- One Scribophile critique: 2x –
- One chapter posted on Scribophile: 1x –
- One big CRM task from CRM ongoing to-do list: 1x –
My Monthly Checklist is my secret weapon. Seriously.
Read the rest of this series at Spiritual Practice Success Stories.