I’ve learnt that to have an amazing life, I need to focus on having amazing days. After all, life is but a string of days, isn’t it? Through trial and error, I came to understand that the most important thing to focus on, to make any day awesome, is to start it on a positive note and end it on an appreciative note. There are several ways to do this. For me, what works really well is to journal first thing in the morning.
Orchestrating great mornings – journaling in my ‘book of positive aspects’
I borrowed the idea of ‘the book of positive aspects’ from the book Ask and It is Given by Esther Hicks. The idea is pretty simple – to write about anything and everything you’re feeling appreciative of or joyous about. While it can be a gratitude journaling of sorts, it isn’t exactly that. While you can journal about things you are grateful for, you can also just bask in appreciation and joy. Anything that puts you in a chirpy state works!
To give you an example, here’s what my book of positive aspects would read like:
I slept so well. It was delicious. We got a new mattress yesterday and the thing is so much better than what I used to sleep on! I also went to bed early so that probably added to the restfulness. I’m feeling excited about NaNoWriMo! It’s great that Steve, Marina, and a bunch of others are doing this too. I’m looking forward to the time we’ll begin to edit our novels – we’ll all be able to learn stuff from each other. I’m really enjoying the Dune series. Started reading Children of Dune yesterday. I like the sound of it from the first 50 pages. Frank Herbert is truly a magician!
You get the idea. There’s no constraint on what you write about. The only constraint is that whatever you write should be positive, happy, appreciative, or uplifting. I usually do this while drinking my morning coffee. These days I’ve started playing jazz music too. I love jazz! It gives a nice cafe feel which I enjoy.
After about 20 minutes of being in this state, there’s a pep in my step. I’m smiling and full of energy to get started with my day! I usually dive into my work tasks right after and you can bet that I’m full of enthusiasm to get them done! Those 20 minutes make sure that I go into the day with eagerness and positive energy.
Closing the day with satisfaction – the end of day review
I used to get into the pattern of thinking, “Oh no, I never got around to doing the x, y, and z thing on my to-do list…I didn’t push myself enough…I wasn’t efficient enough…”. Do you see how unhelpful and disempowering this can be? Over time, I came up with specific questions I could ask myself to end the day on a satisfied and empowering note – irrespective of how the day turned out. I think feeling satisfied with the day gone by is also the best way to get great sleep.
My end of day review has four questions:
1. On a scale of 1-10, what rating would I give the day?
If it’s anything less than a 9 or 10, I ask myself what would have made the day a 9 or a 10. Then I think about how I can make the following day a 10/10.
2. What were my wins for the day?
I make a list of all the things that I accomplished here. Even if I didn’t complete all that was on my to-do list, I think about the stuff I did get done and write them down. Anything that gave me a feeling of accomplishment goes in there. For eg., the other day I responded to a bunch of WhatsApp messages that I had been sitting on for many many days, and doing that felt like a major accomplishment! So in it went as a win for the day.
Noting our accomplishments, however small or big, on a daily basis reminds us that we do accomplish things every day. We are winners! And the more we focus on them, strangely enough, the more we prime ourselves to keep accomplishing.
3. What gave me joy today?
I love this question because it gets me feeling so happy. This has also convinced me that every single day – however blah – has its joyous moments. Some days it might just be a smile someone gave you or the fact that you have a comfy bed to sleep on. What matters is that you learn to recognize the celebrate the joys in your life.
4. What are my top three tasks for tomorrow that will make it a slam-dunk success?
Michael Hyatt says that you should have just three to-do’s in your task list every day. Having too many to-do’s usually is inundating and doesn’t help you zero down to the few, truly important tasks. What I like about the number three is that it forces me to think about the three tasks that will advance my most important goal(s). These are the urgent and important tasks. If I get these three tasks done and ignore everything else, my day will feel like a gigantic success. However, if I don’t get these three done but manage to get a bunch of other stuff done, I haven’t exactly been smart because I haven’t moved the needle forward on my most important goals.
Going through these questions makes sure that I end the day feeling satisfied, appreciative, and eager to meet the next day with open arms. If this format sounds good to you, feel free to apply it! And if you do, I’d love to hear how it works out for you.
Whether or not you journal in the morning or do an end of day review in the night, I’d encourage you to apply the concept of starting your day on the right foot and ending it on the right note in some shape or form. It is really, really powerful. Before long, your days ( which will also be reflected in the rating you give your day) will become absolutely amazing. 😀