I was fortunate to begin this year with three months of thrilling international business in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. One week after returning to the States from this once in a lifetime opportunity I found myself back in reality and exhaustingly saying to my coach, “My to-do list is way too long, I can never get it all done in one day. Every night I go to bed losing and wake up to a game of catch up”.
Sound familiar? In that moment my coach patiently reminded me of my classic ‘taking on more than I can handle’ pattern which inevitably leads to my overwhelm cycle. “Yes, exactly! Now what do I do about it?!” I exclaimed. After calming down, together we came up with a daily habit that little did I know, would change my life.
If any of you are like me, you’re competitive. I love winning and abhor losing. Over the years I’ve gotten better at the losing part, but my desire to win is cemented. With this in mind, my coach and I decided I needed an opportunity to win every single day. So we set up a simple structure called:
WIN – REWARD - STAND
WIN: Every morning I look at my list and pick the items that have to get done that day. Nothing more, nothing less. Today my win is writing this blog post. Do I have more to do? Yes, but I knew if I didn’t set this up as my win, my resistance would increase.
REWARD: Sometimes as adults we think being rewarded is only for kids, we can power through anything. I’ve found that a daily reward is extremely helpful for motivating all of us to win. Today my reward is watching a James Corden video on YouTube. Sounds simple, but not something I would normally take time to do on a workday. I know if I’m laughing, I’ll do just about anything.
STAND: To stand for something is to give it your wholehearted support, to embody whatever it is you connect meaning and purpose to. Daily stands get me out of my tiny world and into the much larger one called life. Today my stand is ‘vulnerable practice’. I believe in the power of putting myself out there and am working on practicing things instead of being perfect at them (aka writing blog posts!).
This WIN – REWARD - STAND habit takes me 5 minutes each morning. The result? I win daily, which makes my life work. Is my list is still long and my inbox more full than I’d like? Yes. But every day I feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose as I chip away at what matters most to me.
"Life goals are good to have because they provide direction, but they can also trick you into taking on more than you can handle. Daily habits — tiny routines that are repeatable — are what make big dreams a reality." - James Clear
I offer this practice to you in the hopes that your dreams become a reality!