I love to check off DONE on my list as much as the next person (okay, maybe a little more than the next person).

I keep an oversize paper chart to highlight my PRIORITIES, like exercise, writing, and meditation. When I demonstrate DEVOTION to my priorities, I promptly check it off, alongside what was specifically accomplished (ie, distance, word count, time spent).

Now, I realize this may seem old school and time-consuming. However, it’s a practice I’ve cultivated that many of my coaching clients adopt with success as well.

You see, writing it down and keeping track of how we actually prioritize our time sends a message to our brain: we choose to do what we say we will. We choose to complete something we know is important – when we could easily get away without doing it.

Can you imagine what it would be to gaze at one priority, checked off as complete, that you’ve been putting off for months or even years? Can you imagine a month and more of checked off priorities?

Consider the contrast: wishing, wanting and waiting are longings. Let us distinguish longing for something from engaging with something. Only the latter fuels action, courage and confidence.

Left to its own devices, the brain is known to retain a primitive tendency to focus on what’s not working. It torments us with valleys of regret and mountains of what’s still to be done.

The good news is there are tools to manage the brain when it runs amok on autopilot, tries to keep us in the land of familiar. Managing our mindset allows us to go for what truly serves us and others in a bigger sense.

The second strategy comes as a surprise to even the most seasoned professionals. Until, that is, they weave it in to daily practice and create the change they want to see.

I’ll illustrate the need for the strategy here. I am likely to ask a powerful question at the start of each coaching session. A question such as, “What is something you’re proud of since the last time we met?”

At first, it’s wiggly for most people to come up with something. That is natural. As I said, our brains are wired to detect the negative. Soon, however, they come prepared.

I ask the question. They share a proud moment.

It lasts a split second.

Then POOF! It’s gone. They are off and running with the next issue, challenge, task that lies ahead.

An unconscious sprint from a sense of abundance to one of deficit. In a nanosecond.

So, I invite them to pause. Take some deep breaths. Revisit what they feel in the moment.

I invite them to more fully prioritize, recognize and celebrate–on a cellular level.

What’s it like in their body? Who are they now, having been the person who’s done this?

Many will tear up. Tell me they are not used to patting themselves on the back. Some will say they were raised to think it smug, self-serving, frowned upon. Each will thank me for slowing them down and giving them moments to see themselves for who they truly are at their best.

To be clear, sometimes it is about big things. Deciding to leave a toxic work environment. Or completing a website landing page for their new consultancy.

More often, it’s to recognize a mini-step taken. A gamer launches an online community as a side hustle. A busy exec schedules ten minutes of reading for pleasure. A harried mom brews a cup of tea to enjoy alongside a healthy breakfast.

It is so tempting to rush past the gems in our human nature. Which include what we are capable of–if only we set ourselves up with tools to succeed.

Maybe it’s not about how much we get done, but how we prioritize, recognize and celebrate what gets done?

Integrating these mindset strategies will change the way you talk to yourself. The way you see and project yourself.

Challenge yourself to adapt one or both of these tools to remind your brain to prioritize, recognize and savor success.

Would love to hear what you think!

Recommended Resources

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience