Is Your To-Do List Making You Miserable?

Are you a list maker? I am. It’s how I get things done.

But doesn’t life sometimes just feel like an endless “To-Do List”?

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Do you ever feel like every day is just a to-do list? That is never ending. You go to bed having not accomplished everything on your to-do list, wake up the next day, it rolls over and now you start again. And it becomes daunting, because now it’s like, “What is life all about? Is this my life? I just wake up and have this long to-do list of things that I just need to tick off? Life is just one big ticking off exercise? There must be more to it than this.”

It’s kind of like step one, in life, is to have a list, right? Some people don’t have a list. Some people wake up, their day is aimless, they don’t know what direction they’re going in, they don’t know what to do today, and they don’t have any structure. So of course, the first step in having a better life is to have some structure. Is to have a sense of what I want to accomplish today. To have some kind of a list.

But I think that doesn’t get to a more advanced level, which is for every to-do on our list, to recognize and to be very clear about what master this to-do is serving.

I’ll have my to-do – and let’s say there’s 20 to-dos for the day or 10 or five, depending on how big they are. For each to-do, no matter how big or small, next to it I write why this to-do even matters. What master is this serving? What goal is it taking me towards? Because if we don’t do that, then the to-do list is hollow. It is devoid of emotion, of significance, of meaning. As Simon Sinek would say, it is devoid of the why. And when we don’t know our why, it becomes very difficult to get ourselves to do things, because we’re not moved by emotion, we’re simply moved by willpower.

So try this: For your to-do list today, look at every single thing on that list, and next to it, write down what master that to-do is serving. Because remember this, your to-do list is there to serve you. You’re the master. The to-do list is working for you. You’re not working for the to-do list. It exists to serve my goals, my dreams, my hopes, what I’m trying to achieve in life, how I want to feel in life, what I want to get better at in life, what skills I want to develop in life, what relationships I want to make deeper in life. The list is my slave. I’m not a slave to the list.

And when we understand that, we realize, “Ah, this next thing on my list that I was just groaning about, I’m actually excited about it. Or maybe, I’m not even excited about it. Maybe I still don’t like it, but I see the value in it.” And now, what was resentment turns into gratitude.

Some of you will say, “On my list is going to work today in a job I hate.” Okay, but how do you link that to your goal? You better be able to. Maybe doing the job you hate is leading you to somewhere you want to go. Maybe it’s buying you the time to work on the project you really want to work on. Maybe it’s a stepping stone to a position you really want to be in. Maybe if you prove yourself here and show people how able you are in this job you don’t want to do, you’ll end up doing a job you do want to do, because people will offer you more opportunities, more responsibility, more power. So there you say, “Ah, there’s a connection. There’s a through line. There’s a thread between this thing I don’t want to do, and the thing that I do want to do. So in a sense, this is a thing I do want to do.” Do you see that?

It doesn’t make it enjoyable. Plenty of days I go to the gym, I don’t find it enjoyable, but when I connect to what I’m doing it for, I see that it’s valuable. And when I see that it’s valuable, I go from resentment to gratitude, and that is a huge shift. I go from seeing it as something I have to do, as something that’s for me.

This is a very valuable part of your daily process. Do not just have a to-do list, have a connection list, where for each to-do, you make the connection between that to-do and the goal, the master that it’s serving.

In March of this year, I have my Virtual Retreat that is happening again for the second time. We ran the first one – it was the first ever time that we had taken my Live Retreat, and run it as a virtual event, which was still live, but, of course, accessible through people’s homes. I was in my home delivering it with an entire crew and production, but everyone was in their homes or wherever they were in the world, being able to take the Retreat for the first time without having to fly to the United States to do it.

And we changed hundreds of lives in the first Virtual Retreat, that we never would’ve been able to change were it not virtual. And it’s going to be the same again this time.

If you missed it that time, do not miss it this time, because I’m going to be breaking down the exact daily practices that are going to transform your life, get you connected, but will also transform your confidence, the way you think about your life and create an incredible plan.To find out more about the program, or to ask one of my team a question, if you have a question about the program, go to this link, find out more. And as always, I will see you in next week’s video.

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6 Replies to “Is Your To-Do List Making You Miserable?”

  • Thank you for another insightful video. It truly is perspective, even when you don’t want to do something, the motivation can be found in the “why”.

  • I love the passion you have when explaining the reason and connection to why you want to do the things on your to do list. You get so excited explaining it and this one easy tip makes complete sense and takes all the pain out of doing those chores. Thank you!

  • A simple yet powerful tool! I’ve never thought about the to do list in this way before. This will stay with me :) Thanks Matthew!

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