Reschooling Tool #1: Victories & Gratitudes

For all of my adult life, I have kept daily to-do lists that are much longer than I can ever possibly complete. Even though I realize this, I still get upset with myself for not finishing every task. “You didn’t change phone plans, send out resumes, cook dinner, or catch up on emails. What DID you do with your Saturday?”

In order to appreciate what I DID do, I began to write down a list of victories — little and big, as many as I could think of — before bed each day. I found that celebrating even boring accomplishments like “Scheduled dentist appointment” helped me focus on what I had been able to check off the list, rather than what still remained to be done. Recognizing myself for my efforts made me happier and more energized to tackle the next day’s To-Do’s.

Eventually I expanded my “Victories” list to “Victories & Gratitudes,” to include little things that I was grateful for that day: “Amazing chocolate cake,” “Rock Band on PlayStation,” or “Naan ‘n’ Curry” (at least half of the gratitudes are usually food-related). On even my roughest days, I felt pleased about the happy moments I’d been lucky enough to have.

Here’s my list of Victories & Gratitudes for this weekend:

1. Jogged three times after not exercising much in three weeks. I now have that lovely muscle soreness that means something’s working.

2. Caught up with friends all over the Bay Area: San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Portola Valley, San Jose, Santa Rosa. Boo driving, yay cool people.

3. Free movie: Got in free to Tropic Thunder because the machine that read gift certificate cards wasn’t working. Ben Stiller is my hero.

4. Ate delicious food: Fresh guacamole, the best heirloom tomato I’ve ever had, and Gianna’s iced sugar cookies.

5. Night walk in Sonoma, one of my favorite things ever. It’s warm enough after dark to wear short sleeves.  Crickets chirp and frogs croak all around, and I spend half the walk craning my neck to the sky to see the impressive spread of stars. The other night, this approach led me to stumble into a bush and almost fall head-in.

6. Cleaned my room! During and after travels, my suitcase has a habit of vomiting all over the room. Tonight I finally cleaned it up, which made my sanity meter go up threefold.

This is what crazy looks like.

This is what crazy looks like.

Thank you, Magic Cleaning Elf.

The crazy meter dials down.

Even though I bumped some major activities to Monday, I’m content to appreciate remembering what my floor and desk surface look like.

I recommend writing down your Victories & Gratitudes regularly. With practice, you’ll find more and more things for which you feel grateful.

Comments (4)

  1. Margaret

    Are we N Sync or what- I just remembered your suggestion to do this from a year or so ago and did it on my own (new) blog. Thought of it again on Sunday, alack, but didn’t follow through with it that time and now might not remember what happened that day to make it good. :-) Ah well. “Self: remember to sing “I had a good day” to that song that says the complete opposite… oh, and nice going on the room. Feel the calm seeping in…

    Reply
  2. Gilliebean

    Melia and Margaret, awesome on keeping track of victories! It was so great when we were e-mailing each other with our victories and gratitudes of the day. It really keeps everything in perspective. I get so down on myself when I don’t do every one of my 546 to-do list items. I might just incorporate that feature into my blog, too :)

    Reply
  3. Mr. Hsu

    Will be starting this tonight. Thank you! :)

    Reply
  4. Melia

    Wow, Margaret – *N Sync indeed! I love your new blog – keep the posts coming!

    Gill, I know – it was so awesome when we were emailing each other our victories & gratitudes. I think I’ll make mine a regular feature here, so it’d be cool to see yours.

    And Stephen – glad to be of service. This practice helps!

    Reply

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