There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
For as long as I can remember, I have been just like the little girl in Longfellow’s verse: either really, really good, or really, really bad. Either my diet is pristine, or I’m binging on cheesecake (even it’s made without dairy or refined sugar, cheesecake is cheesecake). I’m alternately putting scads of money towards a lofty goal like retirement, or I’m charging up yet another pair of pricey black boots (oh, and I’ll take the red ones too). I’m getting to bed by 10:00 every night, or I’m pulling all-nighters to get stuff done (and paying for it the rest of the week).
Lately I’ve been test-driving a system to help me not only reel some things in, but also to keep a good perspective. I made myself a checklist chart of life-practices that are important to me: things I know I “should” try and get to or live by, but don’t always seem to manage. Right now my checklist has 30 things on it. They run down the left hand side of a sheet of paper (it’s probably easiest to do this in Excel, if you decide to try it). Across the top of the page are the days of the week. Here’s the clincher: I do not try and get all 30 things “checked off” on any given day (although there was a time in my life I would have!). My daily goal is to get just 10 of my life-practices done, and so far I’ve been about 95% successful. If I get more than 10 checked off, I feel even better, but I don’t “carry forward” credit for any extra good deeds to the next day. Each day is a clean slate, which is a relief after an off day.
My checklist has on it a variety of goals that are important to me, such as staying all raw vegan in my diet, meditating, dry skin brushing, drinking 64 oz. of water, reading professional literature for an hour, using my Waterpic®, stopping eating by 6:30, etc. Some of the things on my list are not practical to try and get to everyday, but quite honestly, when I have only 9 checkmarks and the day is nearly done, that chart helps me stay on track. I identify and then tackle one of the “it won’t take that long, and you’ll be glad you did items” (like flossing or clearing off my workspace) and—presto!—I get to go to bed with a feeling of accomplishment.