124. Reasons why we Must.

Ah, the wonderful, enchanting Habit of Must Do.

There is something magical and compelling about the word Must. When we place ourselves in Must mode, we seem to view the world with a renewed sense of urgency that helps us propel ourselves further than we have previously imagined possible.

At least, that is the feedback I am constantly receiving from my many clients who have turned The Habit of Must Do into an integral part of their everyday lives.

A quick recap for those who may be new to our blogs/discussions: The Habit of Must Do is introduced into our daily lives by way of a “Must Do” list.

Users of this list are cautioned to be extremely aware of the activities they place on this list for there is one simple, nonnegotiable rule that drives the governance of this list.

The rule is simple: If an activity is on your “Must Do” list, it must be done that day.

What that means is that you cannot go to bed, turn out the light and go to sleep if even one single item on that list has not been successfully completed.

What is it about a Must List that instills a powerful sense of commitment and urgency in us?

It’s simple. Along with the use of this “Must Do” list is a daily counter that tells us how many consecutive days we have achieved completion of each item on our list.

After only a very few successfully completed days we realize that we are building an unbroken chain of success and if we neglect to complete even one activity on our list, the counter that is dutifully recording our daily victories is automatically reset to zero.

A “Must Do” list is also, by its very nature, a “Mustn’t” Do list. We use the same principle to disallow ourselves the opportunity of doing things we are trying to eliminate from our lives.
We use this list to quit smoking, to eliminate certain foods, and essentially to replace certain bad habits with desirable, good ones.

A “Must Do” is not for everyone. It is not for the fainthearted for it is our irrevocable commitment to a “Must Do” list that will eliminate self-disappointment from our lives.

The option of letting ourselves down is hereby removed and replaced by an indescribably empowering feeling of accomplishment that accompanies every successful day.

Those of my clients who have truly devoted themselves to the use of Must lists will, without fail, brag of the remarkable changes they have experienced in their personal and professional lives simply by making The Habit of Must Do a Must Do part of each and every day.

“This, like anything else, can be manipulated and we can delude ourselves into thinking we are succeeding by listing activities that are quick, easy and require little effort.

But frankly, what’s the point? I mentioned earlier this is not for the fainthearted and if you have the desire to succeed, the will to improve and the tenacity to endure, The Habit of Must Do must become a part of your everyday life.

Last week I challenged you to do this for one week. Today I extend that challenge for one month.

One month out of your whole life. Is that too much to ask?

After it, it may well prove to be the best month of your life.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.


123. One week WILL change your life.

Last week we discussed The Habit of Must Do. This is the habit of creating a daily “Must Do” list each morning and commit to every activity placed on that list being completed prior to the day drawing to a close.

The Habit of Must Do means that nothing on that list is optional. It MUST be done.

It is interesting to note that so many of our previous discussions are centred around the greatest gift bestowed upon each of us – the gift of choice.

We have chatted about the power we have to evaluate all available options and pick the one that best suits us in the moment and yet now we are discussing the awesome power behind the removal of those very choices.

Over the past week I have received numerous calls, texts and emails from people who are strong adherents to The Habit of Must Do. These folks contacted me to report in on how they have experienced huge progress in their pursuit and attainment of goals in their lives by simply beginning each day with the creation of a “Must Do” list.

Each of these folks had a story to tell of one or more occasions when, close to the end of the day as they were preparing for bed they remembered an unaccomplished, incomplete items on their list.

One person spoke of how she dragged herself out of her house at 10:30 PM because she had not completed her “Must Do” of walking 10,000 steps that day.

Another spoke of accessing his office desk top from his home laptop in order to complete an important proposal.

He had been busily working on this document when he was called to an unscheduled meeting which lasted several hours after which he gone home completely forgetting about his proposal.

It was not until he settled down in his den after dinner to watch TV that he remembered the simple rule of a “Must Do” list: if it’s on your “Must Do” list, you must do.

To some, this devotion to something written on a piece of paper or entered into an electronic instrument may seem extreme but it is really all about the importance of understanding that few of our goals are ever realized until we attain the discipline required to do the very things that need to be done repeatedly in order for those goals to be achieved.

Discipline is the act of doing what you know needs to be done when you don’t feel like doing it or of not doing what you know you shouldn’t be doing when that is all you really want to do.

Many of us have set out on a journey of accomplishment – perhaps it has been something personal such as losing weight or something educational such as completing a course or a degree – only to find ourselves off track.

We will all benefit mightily the very instant we commit to the notion of a “Must Do list.”

Few, if any of us fail to achieve our goals because we don’t know what to do, instead we fail to achieve them because we talked ourselves out of doing what we needed to do.

For many of us our capacity for self-delusion is immense and only through an unrelenting, unblinking commitment to something like a “Must Do” list will we have any hope of success in hitting our targets.

If you aren’t convinced then try this: for one week begin each day with a short – 2 to 3 item – “Must Do” list.

Don’t select low-hanging fruit but rather something that will stretch and challenge you. For that week, no matter how tired you are, how discouraged you feel or how badly you DON’T want to complete each task on our list, YOU MUST DO IT and then pay attention to how you feel about your accomplishments each and every day.

My guess is that the new euphoric sense of hyper- accomplishment that you will feel does more than enough to convince you that a “Must Do” list is the best way to ensure that what must get done does, get done.

Come on, it’s only one week out of your entire life.

You can do this.

Let me know.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this

122. This must is a must.

For several years now I have been encouraging my client’s to create a new “Must Do” list for themselves every day.

We are all familiar with the idea of using “To Do” lists to help organize our time and to prioritize each item on the list in order of importance so as to ensure that the most important tasks are attended to and completed.

It is fascinating to review the progress made by those clients who have committed to, and honoured their commitments.

To these folks, The Habit of Must Do, has proven to be life-changing. Acquiring the habit can be painful in the early stages of application but it does not take long before the benefits gained substantially outweigh the challenges faced.

Many of my clients have described The Habit of Must Do as the greatest gift they have ever given themselves. I have heard countless stories of procrastination habits being shattered, unfulfilled product promises being realized and discarded projects being completed.

The use of a “Must Do” list requires both selective thinking and a basic grasp of simple arithmetic.

Before an item gets placed on that list it must be determined to be worthy of occupying space on the list, i.e. that it is important enough to be considered a “Must Do” item, and then everything else required to be accomplished that day, must be considered to determine there is sufficient time to complete this item.

Many times in both this and my Saturday blog, we have discussed the simple truth that guides our behaviour – we only ever do one thing, we do what is most important in a moment.

Using this as a guiding principle, users of a “Must Do” list take time to evaluate each item to determine if it will make the cut and find its way onto this list thus sparing themselves from the time and challenge that we all face when more and more tasks keep getting heaped up on our daily plates.

The questions I am frequently asked when presenting this concept for the first time is, “So what? So what if I don’t compete something that’s on that list? What’s the big deal?”

I’ll tell you what the big deal is. The big deal is letting ourselves down. The big deal is not living up a meeting promises made to ourselves. The big deal is in building disappointment into our dreams.

And I know this because of the countless times people have spoken to me of the pride and sense of accomplishment they feel when they finally complete the last task on their “Must Do” list.

Much like recovering alcoholics who can often tell you in years, months, weeks, days and even hours how long they have remained sober, so can these folks tell you how long, without skipping a day, they have managed to sustain their “Must Do” lists.

And, if asked, they will speak of their unshakable determination to never miss a day of completed activities because to do so is to reset their history of consecutive success all the way back to zero – a price they are not willing to pay

So today, I recommend we all adopt The Habit of Must Do.

It’s really simple, there are only three steps.
1. Carefully select the activity or activities that will be on your Must List for today.
2. Write it on your list.
3. Do it.

I know this seems like an oversimplification but it only feels that way for the first a while until you begin to reap the rewards that using such a list will bring into your life.

Many years ago I heard a wise old saying that applies very well to how we should face tough challenges in our lives. It states, “If you can’t, you must.”

And a really good place to put this into practice is by beginning a very own daily “Must Do” list.

So, if you feel this is not the right time to begin well… You must.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

121. Eight words can change a life.

There are few ways with which we can uplift the spirit of another more easily than by paying them a sincere compliment.

This was most certainly the case with Jonathan.

Jonathan had always dreamed of being a doctor like his mom but, unlike his mom, he really struggled with math.

Year after year he barely made it through each grade by achieving the minimal pass marks on his math scores.

Jonathan was a frustrated young man. He was convinced that his dream was a futile one and, despite constant mentorship from both his parents, he just could not seem to bypass the challenges that math presented.

Until one day a substitute teacher said eight words to him that forever changed his life.

Johnson clearly remembers this momentous day. It was in the third week of his eighth grade school year. He had braced himself for yet another year of frustration and self-deprecation. He had come to convince himself that he was, in his words, “a math moron.”

The substitute teacher had been present for two days and there was something different and special about her. She seemed to go out of her way to interact with each student and offer words of encouragement at will.

On the second day, as Jonathan was struggling with yet another map puzzler she came up to him, gently placed her hand on his shoulder and he heard the electrifying words that would forever change his life.

In a gentle and sincere voice she said, “You know Jonathan, I have been watching you. You are extremely smart. You can do this.”

When Jonathan told me the story he paused and said at that moment something changed inside of him, and for the first time he started to think it possible that he could conquer math rather than continue to be conquered by it.

He redoubled his efforts and began approaching each challenge with a new perspective.

Amazingly, in just a short few months his grades crept up to the point where achieving A’s in math became the norm.

This remarkable teacher had also told him the phrase straight out of a Richard Bach’s famous book, Illusions. “You teach best, what you most need to learn.”

So Jonathan began mentoring other kids who were struggling with math and realized that the more he encourage them the better they did.

While math certainly takes a level of skill it also requires a confidence born out of self-belief.

Jonathan is a cardiologist today. He completed his residency a little over a year ago and speaks of having a blessed life.

He told me he often imagines how differently his life might’ve turned out had he not heard those words that told him he really was smart.

The Habit of Paying Compliments has power beyond our wildest imagination.

We too can transform the lives of others by simply looking for, and finding opportunities to pay compliments.

Jonathan told me an interesting tale. One of the first patients to enter his office shortly after he completed his residency was that very teacher who had changed his life.

She had come in to the hospital where he works complaining of chest pain and even when he introduced himself to her she did not recognize him.

He had recognized her immediately and reacquainted himself with her. He said that the look on her face and excitement in her voice when he reminded her of who he was and pointed out the contribution she had made to him being her attending physician did more to repair her symptoms than anything his medical knowledge and abilities could have offered.

He told me he does not believe in coincidences and the reason they met all these many years later was so she could learn of the enormous value she brought into a young man’s life.

He also told her that she was the best teacher he had ever had.

Jonathan never misses an opportunity to practice the The Habit of Paying Compliments.

Nor should we.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.