Consider this: one month from now you can have easily taken 300 steps towards your highest values. In three months 900 and in a year 3,650. It’s very simple and surprisingly powerful. I’m not a big proponent of commitments that will tie you down and that’s what is so beautiful about the daily 10. You are only making one commitment and that’s to the daily 10 itself, and those 10 things can be whatever you want them to be on any particular day.
We all need help and reminders to live our life in a way that progresses us towards what we value the most. Otherwise our survival brains will cause us to live in a way our conscious brains don’t necessarily want us to live. We will fail to do those things we know we should and we will do things we know we shouldn’t. What follows is a simple tool to help you achieve your highest values on a daily basis. It’s so simple and flexible it can be whatever you make it. However, the cumulative power of tiny actions day after day can be immense. It has been very effective for me.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Create your list of highest values. I like to list 10 but it can be whatever number you want. Here is a nice checklist to give you some ideas on values you can choose: Values Checklist. Review and revise the list as often as necessary.
Step 2: Every day create your list of 10 “do’s” and “don’ts” for that day. These do’s and don’ts are anything you can do or avoid doing that day that are consistent with and progress you towards those values you listed in step 1. Each and every item on your list of 10 must be related to something in your value list. You are not creating a list of things you have to do that aren’t related to your values. The most important thing to keep in mind when creating this list every day is that these actions can be very tiny and simple actions. If you think you are going to create a list of 10 major accomplishments every day you are simply going to create a failure list.
Step 3: At the end of every day note whether you did what you said you would do. This is a powerful incentive. If you failed on any one thing during the day then you simply note you did not do what you said you would do.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 every day.
The daily 10 can be work, personal, or preferably both. Sometimes you will want to list important, urgent, and significant tasks, but more often they should just be small things that over time will massively improve your life. The number 10 is not magic, it can be anything you want. I like to evenly mix do’s and don’ts together but that too is flexible.
As an example of a don’t I use that helps me achieve one of my values of “Health”, I have been putting “No extra snacking” on my daily 10. This is a bad habit I’ve developed and I want to kill it. So every day I put it on my list of daily 10. Every time I’m tempted to have an unscheduled snack, I remember how much I don’t want to write that I did not do what I said I would do that day. You can’t just fill up your list with habits. It would be cheating to put something like this on my daily list if I was going to do it anyway – if it was already a habit. Only put these habit type items on your list when you are working towards creating a good habit or killing a bad habit. Once you have succeeded then it isn’t needed on your list anymore.
If you value your relationship with your daughter you might add an item once in a while like “Ask (daughter’s name) how her day went after dinner tonight. If you want to get something started or finished you have been procrastinating put it on your list. You can put “Stop by and chat with Sally for 5 minutes this morning” or anything else however large or small that will make you the person you want to be.
There aren’t any real rules. It is totally flexible, but you must stick with it every day. If you start letting things slip and failing to do what you say you are going to do, then it will just deteriorate into another useless waste of time. If you find you are frequently writing that you didn’t do what you said you were going to do, then make the list smaller and easier. Start with 5 tiny don’ts. Don’ts are easier than do’s. If you get into the habit of achieving your daily 10 (or 5 or 7) you can ratchet up the significance of the items on the list.
Give it a shot for a month. You might be surprised at how effective it can be.
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