Let me start this post by saying that a TA DA list is NOT a to-do list. This exercise is not about adding anything else to your already full plate.
It’s all about celebrating and shifting your mindset from doing to being and feeling, which is key when you’re trying to get out of overwhelm and feel happier and more joyful. (You can take the Play Persona quiz here to see how good you are at actually making that shift!).
I discovered this whole idea this past winter. I was at coffee with a friend (who’s also a brilliant and wise woman, a true crone to whom I look as a mentor). We were talking about our careers, and I was lamenting that despite working my ass off, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I worked all the time, was exhausted, and wasn’t loving what I was doing anymore. I’d quit teaching so I’d have time to write, but all I ever did was work on my business and I wasn’t writing AT ALL.
I was almost FIFTY and still wasn’t doing what I wanted to do when I grew up though I had finally figured out what I didn’t want. At least there was that.
My wise friend listened and nodded before interrupting me and saying, “Okay, but hang on. Tell me about your marriage.”
“My marriage? Why?” I asked. “You know about my marriage. It’s great. Gary’s my best friend.” And then I started right back in on the frustrating parts of life.
She ignored my negativity and continued with her questioning the second I paused to take a breath. “How long have you been married?” she asked.
“Um…It’ll be 25 years, this fall.” I wasn’t sure where these questions were going, but since she’s my mentor, I decided to stop whining and played along.
“Great. Now tell me about your relationship with your children, Garet and Haley. Do you talk to them often?”
“Um, yeah. I talk to Haley pretty much every day, sometimes more. And I talk to my son three to five times a week.” This instantly changed my mood a bit. “It’s such a gift,” I continued. “I’m super grateful for my relationships. I feel great about my family and that part of my life. But, it’s my work that– “
She put her hand in the air like a stop sign as soon as I tried to start my lamenting again. I shut up.
“So, you’re happy about your relationships and your family, that whole area of your life. How much time in a week would you say you spend and devote solely to your relationships?” She asked me.
“Uh…well…hours. Shoot, some days that’s all I feel like I do. But it changes from day to day.”
“Would you say that you spend time every single day on your relationships with your spouse and your family?”
I nodded and took a sip of my coffee. “Yes. Well, maybe not every day if I don’t talk to them and Gary’s out of town. But, I don’t understand where you’re going with all of this.”
“Just bear with me for another minute.” She smiled reassuringly. “Okay, you spend at least an hour every day on your relationships, but generally much more. And this is with two kids who are in their early twenties and have moved out, right?”
I nodded like a bobblehead as she continued. “How much time did you spend on your family relationships when they were teens and living at home? Or when they were toddlers?”
“Uh, all day, every day when they were toddlers and babies. As teens, it was a part-time to full-time job depending on the day. Especially before they could drive. And that was crazy because I was also working full-time.”
“So, you were working two full-time jobs.” My wise mentor stated and smiled again. “One more question. Can you take a minute to recognize and celebrate all of that?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“You just told me that you have spent hours every day and week for the past twenty-five-plus years on your relationships. They’re solid and you’re happy with them. But ALL you want to talk about is what you haven’t achieved in your career and your business which is only a few years old? And you were working on it while you were still teaching, so you’ve only done it full time for less than two years. Right now, I want you to take a moment and let it sink in that you are incredibly successful in the area of your life that you’ve devoted years to creating and developing. Day in and day out, seven days a week for a quarter of a century.” She paused and stared at me, her eyebrows raised as I let that sink in.
It was one of those, “Oh, duh” moments. She continued, “Own that. Honor it. Give yourself some credit AND, recognize that you’ve spent hours every single day working on it.”
Two ideas stopped me cold because she was SO right.
- Women absolutely focus on what we haven’t achieved and rarely (well, never for me) pause to even think, much less share, “Hey! I did a kick ass job at ____________________.”
- Creating and achieving success can take a TON of time. It doesn’t always, but I’d argue that most of the time it does.
This is why having mentors (or even coaches) in our lives are so key – they lovingly point out what’s right in front of our noses in a way that can shift our perspectives.
Try it. Take a minute and look at your life, really look at it and rather than dissecting all of the areas where you feel like you suck, instead, have a little happy dance because…
…you and your kids actually like each other, or
…you’ve launched or created the business or career of your dreams, or
…you’ve nurtured your friendships and have a supportive and loving group of friends, people who’ve got your back no matter what, or
…your marriage is solid, or
…your creative life is super fulfilling because you take time every day to do something you love, or
…you are rocking a strong and healthy body that can do everything you ask it to because you’ve nurturing it and eating healthy is a habit you’ve cultivated, or
…if you’re still in the life stage where other tiny humans’ bodily fluids get routinely spewed, pissed, or even handed to you (what mom hasn’t been lovingly passed a booger), you still managed to take a shower. Or maybe,
…rather than totally losing your shit with your two-year-old who just asked for a banana and is now freaking out that you gave her the banana instead of the apple that was next to it, you calmly stepped into the bathroom, locked the door, breathed for thirty seconds and calmed down before heading back to deal with the tiny irrational human who’s now happily munching on her banana.
Those, my friend, are the moments and the accomplishments that absolutely go on your ta-da list.
Those are the things that TAKE TIME to cultivate and that you’ve spent a lifetime building. And yes, even having the ability to take a moment away from your spazzing tot takes time and effort to develop because you’ve decided that you want to parent without having your own regular screaming meltdowns, and you’re NOT doing that. Woo hoo!!!
You’re living your life intentionally and creating habits that take time and love and energy.
Recognize that. Honor it.
When I get annoyed with myself because my writing career isn’t where I want it to be, I remember that my writing career is still a little toddler, and I haven’t worked on it every day for years. I feel most successful in my life in areas that I’ve devoted decades to developing and creating. In retrospect, this seems so obvious, but it hit me like a completely new and revolutionary concept.
This certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t feel incredibly successful with something after a day, a week, or a month, but the lesson that my mentor taught me was that creating those good things MAY take time.
I didn’t write my first book in a week. Nor my second. My relationships with my kiddos took daily work for YEARS. I didn’t get a full client roster in a week.
In the world of business, we can look around and see those “overnight successes,” and those people will say things like “don’t compare your beginning to my middle.” I always felt like that was a bit of a platitude, but it’s true. And, it applies to any area of life.
It can be hard sometimes to feel like we’re not where we want to be, but I guarantee you are on the right path.
So let’s celebrate just how far you actually are!
Let’s Create your Ta-Da List.
Grab your journal, a piece of paper, or even the nearest envelope, and jot down THREE things that you’ve kicked ASS at in your life.
What have you built in your life that you’re proud of? That you’ve created (or are creating) with so much of your time, energy, and LOVE?
- that you’re proud of?
- that brings you joy and makes you happy?
- that you did despite others not believing in you?
- that you’ve just sort of done without ever recognizing how much time and effort you’ve put into it?
- that when you pause, to really take it in, you can say, “Damn, I kicked ass at that?”
I know there are many, so jot a few down. Take a minute right now. List them out.
You can also take a peek at your actual to-do list. What did you accomplish today? Even if it feels small, it’s the small things that over time create the big wins.
Next, give yourself some love. Acknowledge what you HAVE created and that you are successful.
Wrap those arms around yourself and give yourself a hug, or get up and do a little happy dance. Because, “TA DA!” you DID IT!
To keep my Ta-Da list in mind, I actually added it to my journaling every morning. I start with a few things that I’m grateful for or that I’ve accomplished. It feels really good to do this.
For me, steps like these are important because I had to make an intentional effort to play when I first began shifting my mindset.
Once you’ve created your list and given yourself a hug or high five (yep clap your hands together over your head!), I’d love to hear about it. You can share it in the comments below or share any aha’s you’ve had.
P.S. I’d like to invite you to check out my “It Pays to Play” newsletter with tips and advice on living and working with a play mindset to increase your creativity and productivity and decrease your overwhelm.