How to Get More Good and Less Bad at the Same Time

“The more you can converse about the things you want to become, the more you will be able to dedicate yourself to doing what needs to be done. Words have power.” – Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

The other day I had some unplanned free time (unusual for me), and I had two things on my mind for what I wanted to do; I could either watch TV or read. Now I will tell you that Netflix was definitely calling my name because I’m almost finished watching the new season of House of Cards, but so was my book by Jeffery Archer, The Fourth Estate. I really was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to do for whatever reason, but I was able to get around it once I focused on my end goal. I asked myself “What do I want to do more of?” Below is an exercise you can use to figure out what you want more of, and what you want less of. By the end of the exercise, you will be able to clearly see the path you need to take so you can live the life you want, and get more and less at the same time. I started to use this exercise, and it has helped guide me when faced with “difficult” decisions.

Make a List of All the Things You Want To Do

The first thing to do is to write a list about all the things you want more of in your life. Make this list as specific as you can so you are clear on your intentions. You may want to work out more, read more, and spend more time with loved ones. These are specific and tangible things you can clearly define. On the other hand, if you state that you want to take more risks and chances, or you want to be happier, these are not as easily defined as there are many things that could lead to these actions and feelings. If you come up with an unclear action or feeling you wish to have, break it down to its core level. What type of risks do you want to take? Is it in your job, or in your personal life? Is it adventure you are seeking, or just stepping out of your comfort zone?  Finally, what action will you take?

Take 5 minutes (NOW) to write out everything you want to do more of, or start doing. Once you have this list, look at each item, and ask yourself “is this clear to me?” Make sure each item on your list is clear. If something is vague, ask yourself how you can make it clearer. Go through each item on the list and make it all as clear as possible. Once you have completed this, pick the top 5 items on your list and rewrite them on a second piece of paper.

Make a List of All the Things You Want Less of

Now that you have a list of all you want, it’s time to make a list of all the things you want LESS of, or things that get in the way of what you want to do. This list will be very similar to the list of things you want to do, just the opposite. Think of things you do all of the time, and ask yourself, what list they would be on. If you want to continue to eat ice cream every day, then it will not be on this list, but I am guessing you may want to eat less junk food over more junk food. This list needs to be specific as well. You can’t just write procrastinate less; it’s not clear enough and you won’t get anywhere with it. Instead, think of the activities you do while you are procrastinating. It could be spend less time on social media, or less time playing video games. Whatever your items, make them specific.

Now take 5 minutes to write your list of everything you want to do less of. Once again, go through each item on the list and make it crystal clear. Pick the top 5 items on your list and rewrite them on a third piece of paper. By the end of the 10 minutes or so, you should have 2 pieces of paper with 5 items on each piece.

Look at Your Actions for Each Item on Both Lists

It is now time to make this all possible. To do this, you are going to come up with an action or a rule you can implement immediately for each item on the two lists. This can be to use your calendar to remind you to work out. You can make a rule to not sit for longer than an hour to make sure you are staying active. Your action to read more could be to read each morning or before going to bed. Whatever your action, it too has to be something that is clear as well as something you can put into real action right away. This will make doing more of the things you want, and less of the things you don’t want easier.

Take your time with your actions/rules. Are they clear? Are they achievable right now? Will you actually follow them? Remember, these actions/rules should be something that you can easily implement into your day immediately to help you get more and less.

Put into Action

Now start! Whatever actions or rules you have come up with put them into place right now. If you have a rule to not sit longer than 30 minutes at a time, set a timer on your phone or watch to go off every 30 minutes. The hard part is going to be to follow or listen to the rule. When your timer goes off, don’t ignore it. Listen, get up, move around, and then get back to whatever you were doing before. These rules and actions are put into place for a reason, so remember why you are doing it.

Think about what you are doing in connection with your lists as you go about your day to day activities. When you are doing something, ask yourself “Would this be on my list of things to do more of, or my list to do less of?” This will help you realize whether the activity is a worth doing, as well as if you should continue doing it or for how long.

Revisit Your List

Once every two months, revisit your list to see how successful you were. Check off the things you accomplished, and ask yourself why you weren’t able to complete those you didn’t do. Once you have done this, repeat the process and make a new list. You may want to keep anything you didn’t accomplish on your new list while adding new items. We are always in a constant state of change, so your list will evolve over time.

Asking yourself these little questions can do wonders for doing the things you really want to be doing. Thinking, not even deeply, about all you want to have in your life, or what you want more of in life will start you off because you will at least be thinking about them. On the contrary, thinking about what you want less of will help you realize the amount of time you spend on those aspects, becoming aware of them, and reducing their impact on you. We only get 24 hours in a day, and we need to use the most of this time. Do what you want to do so you don’t say “I wish” or “I should have” down the road. By the way, I read the book.

What do you want to do more of, and what do you want to do less of? Comment below to help others get a start on their lists so we can all improve together. The more you know, the more you can grow. Learn your code and be the best you possible.