In last week’s post, I covered how a challenge and a checklist moved me out of a pretty dark place. What started as a health challenge with friends led me to look for a way to win and when I found them I needed to make sure they were repeated.

When it comes to the checklist, I realized that there were certain daily habits that I had to develop to be successful with our challenge. They were little things like weighing myself every day, taking a ten-minute walk after every meal, and tracking my food intake. These were all really easy things to do which made them incredibly easy not to. That’s how they ended up on a checklist.

To ensure I was doing my small but important steps every day, I opened my favorite task tracking app, ToDoist, and set up recurring tasks and the times each day that were the deadlines. Next, I put the Todoist widget on the home screen of my phone so I had to see my tasks every time I used the device.

One of the big reasons I love ToDosit is that keeps the deadlines in green and they turn to red when they’re past due. I know this is silly, but having a red, past due task staring me in the face became a huge motivator to take action.
That’s when the magic happened; I started to pick up some momentum.

Suddenly, I started seeing myself differently. I wasn’t dieting, I was eating for high-performance. I walked after every meal because that’s who I am now. I don’t miss workouts because I’m not the kind of person who misses workouts. My stupid little checklist changed my identity and the habits took care of themselves.

Keeping in mind one of my favorite phrases: everything is related to everything, I started to see what other areas of my life I could apply this new lesson. I searched for the habits I would need to be more productive and successful in my business, in my marriage, and in my barn. (I know that reads weird, but it’s who I am) A lot of things that go onto my checklist aren’t major things; Read 2 Articles Every Morning, Email 3 Service Clubs before 4:00 pm, but they became the things that I do every day without fail because I have to look at them when I unlock my phone.

When I look at the difference that my checklist has made in my attitude and mental health, it seems like a miracle, but it’s not. I realize it’s the habits driving my new outlook. As my mentor told me a long time ago; my habits determine my future, but without those little reminders throughout the day I tend to drift and the drift turns to ruin. It started with a challenge. It followed with a checklist but the habits have changed the way I look at myself and that has changed the way I behave. It’s not hyperbole at all to say the challenge and checklist saved my life.

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