I want to share a simple tool I have been utilizing for myself recently. I think it is really helpful, and you may want to try it out yourself.
I shared with you before how I noticed some of my habits were fading a bit and how I wanted to get back in alignment with how I want to take care of myself day-to-day.
One of the ways I decided to support myself in this effort is to use a daily checklist.
Now, this isn’t just writing some crap down that I have to do today and crossing it off the checklist. It isn’t listening to all the experts and trying to do all the things they think I should do checklist. It isn’t a punishment for my bad behavior yesterday checklist.
This is a checklist of things that are personal, value, and priority-driven, important to me, and aligned with my current and future self.
Though it may sound like it, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the spirit of it is actually the opposite. Simple and focused.
Today I’ll give you some questions and prompts that you can use to create your own aligned checklist.
Aligning with who you are now
The thing I love about this concept of alignment is that it is relevant to you right now. It is current.
Notice I said aligned with current and future self. I’d like to maybe switch that to, and/or because if all you know is what’s important to you today, a checklist can simply be aligned with who you are today.
The idea is to create a guideline for your day that supports you and what you want with lots of love.
It gives you a visual reminder of what you want to create, what’s important, what to focus on, and that visual can also serve as a way to see and celebrate your success.
It is an opportunity to give yourself grace and a way to lovingly commit to yourself to take aligned action.
What are you trying to create?
So, here is a prompt to help you get started: what are you trying to create in terms of your health goals and your relationship with your body and yourself in the future?
I want you to really think about this, not just write down the number you want to get to.
- What is it?
- What kind of life?
- What kind of person do you imagine?
- What does that look like, in specifics?
Then, brainstorm things you can do, and actions you can take that you believe will contribute to creating that outcome.
Take the time to be specific here and break bigger things down into smaller ones.
For example, if you write down, eat better, be specific about what that will actually look like for you. Eating a serving of veggies with every meal? Eating one dessert every day? Stopping eating when you feel full, right, or eating to satisfaction, etc.
If you write down exercise, be specific about what that means to you. If you write, drink more water, specify how much.
Doable and desirable
Go back through that list and underline all the things you actually want to do. This isn’t what you should do or think you should want to do. These are the things you have an actual desire to do.
Then, go back through the things that you underlined that you want to do and circle all of the things you think are doable for you right now. Meaning you have the time, energy, means, equipment, etcetera to do it.
So, that means if you wrote something like sit down in a quiet space for every meal or put my fork down between each bite, but half of your meals are eating out with clients or in your car between shuttling teenagers around, this may not be doable.
Or if you put, exercise for an hour every day at the gym as something you want to do, but your gym is currently closed because of COVID restrictions, or you don’t have a gym membership in the budget currently, this may not be doable.
For any of the things you want to do but don’t see as doable right now, before we totally rule them out, re-assess each of them and see if there’s a way to make it doable.
Maybe you eat just one meal a week in quiet mindfulness, or you only require the sitting down part, or you redefine exercise like a 10-minute walk around the block or even just 5 minutes of stretching.
Create your checklist
Once you have your list of both doable and desirable things, you get to decide what you want to focus on tomorrow.
This is where you want to engage your loving, realistic adult brain to assist you. You may end up with a list of 22 things that are both doable and desirable.
I personally think you should start with three and go from there. You can always add more tomorrow if three was easy.
Now, just as a little caveat here, if you end up with a list of zero things you want to do and or zero doable things, you may want to re-assess this goal of weight loss. It may not be for you right now. (If you want to learn more about deciding if you should lose weight, click here.)
There’s lots of flexibility in terms of how you do this.
You can create it daily, switching things out on the checklist based on your schedule or how yesterday’s list went.
You can decide what your most important items are and keep them the same for a week or two, with the goal being consistent.
This is a personalized, customized checklist for you to create to support and facilitate your success.
My Current Checklist
One current priority that supports my current health and, as a result, my future self is to drink more water. I’m specifically shooting for half of my weight in ounces daily.
So, that works out to be about 4 of my very favorite simple modern water bottles every day.
I’m also prioritizing protein and veggies at every meal, eating dessert if I choose to with a meal, rather than by itself or in the middle of the afternoon, along with moving and meditating every day.
So, that’s what my daily checklist looks like right now.
So, when I say moving every day, I know exactly what it means to me — what counts as moving and the same with meditating.
But I know that I really like to work on the same thing for a few weeks before adding on or moving on. It doesn’t have to look perfect for three weeks. But I like time to dial in what works and how best to accomplish what I want to accomplish with each of my priorities.
And then, kind of find a system, or a habit, or a pattern that gets the job done. So I write mine out each day.
I really love the ritual of it. I like drawing little squares for myself to actually check off. Being a visual person, I want to see how far I have come and how much more I need to do. I love using my favorite pens and different colors every day. I leave it out on my nightstand to be in view throughout the day.
I take time to acknowledge and inner high-five myself for the checked boxes. I love myself, and I honor even the unchecked ones. I open myself up to learning when I approach myself with compassion, right, even on the unchecked things.
Two important things to remember when creating your checklist
The keys to this being helpful are two things.
First, keep it simple, short, and sweet. My list is so concise and focused that I can easily remember to do all of it.
That’s the biggest problem typically when we try to make changes. We take on too much. We overcomplicate it, and we, therefore, set ourselves up to fail from the get-go. We are not trying to change the world.
With this checklist, we aren’t trying to change our lives or even our bodies overnight. Instead, we are simply creating some focus for some of the actions in our day that help us align with what we want. That’s it.
I don’t do well with trying to do it all. I just don’t. I make much more effective headway when it comes to pretty much everything in my life when I boil it down, I make it simple, and I narrow the focus to a few important things at a time. Important being relative to me.
Second, base your checklist on things you want to add, not subtract.
This is not a don’t list. It’s a do list. Of course, there are things you want to stop doing, I’m sure. But, our brains respond best to focusing on what we want rather than what we don’t want.
Naturally aligned habits
The beauty of doing it this way is that some of the things you want to stop doing will naturally happen as you add new aligned habits.
So, my beverage consumption is a perfect example. When I focus on drinking four water bottles full of water, which is my priority, there’s much less room in my day for other beverages. My thirst is satisfied, and my focus on the goal of checking my four boxes first takes priority.
I still have iced tea or seltzer water. I still have those other beverages, but they become an addition rather than a replacement, and I just consume less as a result.
The same is true for my meal structure. I don’t only eat veggies and protein, right? I have other things in my meals. I often have fruit. Sometimes I have grains, rice, whatever.
But when I build my meals with those two things as a priority, I make different choices, and my meals look different, and I feel different as a result.
Now, just a caveat I feel better when I eat more protein and veggies. So I know that about my body.
So, I’m not prioritizing that because it is what I am supposed to eat or because those are good, and other things are bad. Those items on my checklist are there because they are what I want to put into my body. That is what is important to me.
That doesn’t mean that has to be true for you. I share my process here and my checklist items with you because they are what worked for me and support what I want, and I want you to do the same thing for you.
A gentle reminder of what matters
I’m loving this exercise right now, and I will tell you what I am feeling awesome as a result of honoring it for sure.
Physically and mentally because I am, like I said, giving myself all of those inner high-fives and just taking care of myself better. Try it out for you and see how it goes.
And if you want to learn more from me about how to lose weight for the last time, watch my free video about how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.