I’m a list maker. Like many of you, I have grocery lists, reading lists, guest lists, and of course, I have to-do lists. Making lists and checking off the items can feel pretty good, and they definitely help me stay organized.
But once a year, usually in December, I make a special list. A “done” list.
I started this practice on a whim a few years ago, and I have come to realize that it serves a valuable purpose and that it’s something busy business owners can benefit from.
It’s also a great antidote to those repetitive New Year’s resolutions that can inadvertently make you feel like you’re not making any progress from year to year.
So, what exactly is a “done” list?
Think of your list as a personal highlight reel for the year. I like to include both professional and personal achievements and milestones. You may even create two versions of your list – one for yourself and another edited version for sharing with friends and family.
Part of the goal is simply to take time to give ourselves some much needed recognition, but you can also include setbacks and how you responded to them.
How do you go about making one?
I keep a combined professional and personal calendar on Microsoft Outlook, so for me, the process of making my annual list involves going through my calendar, week by week, and jotting down anything positive or noteworthy that my entries remind me of. Sometimes it’s a direct trigger, such as “Meeting with new editor,” reminding me of a piece I wrote, or sometimes, it will trigger an indirect association, reminding me of how I tried Zumba for the first time on that editor’s recommendation.
For you, going through your Facebook timeline might be a richer source of reminders, or the photo folder on your computer or phone. Some might consult a personal journal or even look through old Tweets.
Email correspondence is another great source of inspiration, so don’t forget to check your sent folder for those catch-up emails to old friends.
What are the benefits of making a list?
My husband grew up with his mom sending out an annual Christmas newsletter to the relatives every year, tucked in next to the card bearing season’s greetings. Not only is it a lovely tradition that she continues to this day, it is also a tangible way of providing recognition and acknowledgment to her children of their accomplishments in academics, sports, and now their adult pursuits. Similarly, when I graduate a coaching client from a three-to-four month engagement, the capper at the end always includes the client listening to a review of their recently completed journey.
Creating your done list for 2012 will give you immediate access to insights that otherwise might not occur to you, such as what business efforts created the greatest return. It might also provide fresh motivation, and it will likely show you some strategic directions for the future, giving you a menu of what you can take to the next level.
In the book “Quiet Leadership,” David Rock writes, “Suffice to say… that neurons literally need positive feedback in some form to create long-term connections.”
Rock also quotes from Thomas Czerner’s book, “What Makes You Tick: The Brain in Plain English.”
Czerner writes: “The brain needs to see a happy face and to hear occasional laughter to cement its neural circuitry. The encouraging sounds of ‘Yes! Good! That’s it!’ help to mark a synapse for preservation rather than pruning.”
How about an example? Part of my list from 2011 included hiring a new web development manager for the family business, launching a monthly newsletter for my executive coaching practice and discovering the timesaving joy of online grocery shopping. Join me in making one for 2012 – and please email me at TheJennieWong@gmail.com to share your list.