It’s time to rewrite your to-do list and change your life

Take it from somebody who knows – if you’re waiting for some magical inner change to happen before you change your life for the better, prepare for a long wait. It ain’t gonna happen. 

Chances are that the change is waiting for you, not the other way around. It’s time to make yourself a different kind of ‘to-do’ list – one that isn’t concerned with chores and work tasks – and start ticking things off RIGHT NOW.

I get it, you’re busy. Work and chores and all those tasks you absolutely HAVE to do before you can even think about doing something just for yourself. But I call BS on that. If you don’t make yourself a priority now, when are you ever going to do it?

How about you switch up the ‘to-do’ list – putting your own needs at the top? Schedule a swim, or a yoga class, or a long bath, or a coffee with a friend. And put it at the top of the list. Make time to make yourself happy before you plough on with the chores. See it as essential maintenance for mind, body, and soul.

There’s never going to be a magical day when the laundry does itself and you find yourself with a blissfully empty chores list. So don’t wait, put yourself first, and do it now. Prioritize pleasure, and you’re likely to find yourself better able to deal with all the crap that life tends to throw at us. Every day, add one thing to the list that is just for you.

I spent years waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to stop existing and start living, Before I realized that things were never going to be perfect. So I took the leap anyway. I stepped into the unknown and never looked back.

What are you going to put on your list?

Instead of endlessly, fruitlessly, searching for the holy grail of HAPPINESS, (let’s face it, is anybody, ever, happy all the time?), it’s time to start making the kind of small, practical changes that anybody can handle, no matter how tight the time schedule, how high the current stress levels, and how stretched the budget is.

The saying goes that love becomes more elusive the more you look for it, and perhaps the same is true of happiness: if you keep telling yourself you need to be happier,  that ultimate goal will forever seem out of reach.

Here’s some practical steps you can take, right now, to give yourself a boost:

● Make your coffee break count

Sipping scalding hot or lukewarm coffee while doing the laundry, replying to work emails, or getting the kids to school is not a coffee break. It’s just caffeine for survival. Take time out everyday to properly slow down for 10 or 15 minutes with a good cup of coffee. Enjoy it. Don’t rush it. If you want to add an extra dose of the good stuff to the daily grind, sign up for my Coffee Break Shake Challenge – a fun way to get yourself out of your comfort zone.

● Don’t panic about finding your passion

Suddenly, we’re all supposed to be following our passions at work. But what if you just can’t get that excited about your role as a senior management consultant? Do you have to retrain as a circus performer or jazz percussionist? Quit the corporate job, downsize the house and try to scratch a living as a portrait painter or novelist? In short, no. As this Harvard Business Review article points out, there’s plenty to be said for following your passion in your downtime – it needn’t be a full-time job. Identify the things that speak to your soul, and be sure to make time for them in your life – but don’t panic if you’re not ‘living your best life’ 24/7.

● Set out your priorities.

Ask yourself what you love doing, and how you can do more of it. What minor tweaks can you make to your life in order to spend more time doing the things that make your spirits soar. Run or cycle your commute instead of taking a cramped train? Start work early on Tuesdays and take Friday afternoons off? Give your schedule a shakeup to make it work for you.

● Put yourself first

There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care. Neglect your own needs for too long and you might find your nerves frayed, your self-esteem plummeting and resentment simmering. You might snap at the kids, your colleagues, or your partner. Whether your idea of blissful indulgence is a facial, a new dress, a long run, a night out with friends or just an hour on your own with a book and a cup of tea, make it a priority. Ask friends and family to step in with childcare for a few hours if necessary. Offer to help them out with something in return. They might be well overdue a bit of self-care, too.

What else should you put on your to-do list? It’s entirely up to you. But make sure it’s the things you want to do, rather than the things you feel you ought to do.

They don’t have to be ‘big’ things

How about you schedule a daily coffee break and use it to…

None of the above sound life-changing. But you might want to think of it as microdosing happiness. The small wins that can brighten your day. The tiny steps that lead to big improvements in your mood.

What I really want you to remember is that not only do you deserve to be happy, but you deserve to be happy right now. But you need to stop chasing happiness like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The harder you look, the further off it will seem. Don’t wait to get a pay raise, drop a dress size or find the perfect partner.

Start ticking things off your happiness checklist right now, and celebrate all those small wins.

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