Make a list or five

In order to reach your goal, you have to know what steps it will take to get there. Making a list to outline your plan is a great way to stay on track. There are dozens of apps for making lists but I’m going to suggest something a little bit crazy. Write it down!

You read that right. I want you to use a real piece of paper and a pen to keep track of the lists you’ll be making for this goal. Why you ask? Because of the pleasure/pain reward system of your brain.

What does making a list have to do with our brain’s feel good or feel bad signaling? Well it all has to do with the visual of seeing the list and the physical action of crossing off items from the list. Each of these trigger actions in your brain’s pleasure center.

When you have a list of items and you complete a task, you feel good about getting something done. Your brain kicks out a little serotonin and dopamine as a reward for doing well. Having a list on a tactile piece of paper rather than a screen on a device creates a stronger mind-body connection.

The physical act of crossing off an item using a pen instead of tapping on a check box has a visual memory attached to it. This also builds a stronger positive reinforcement connection thus motivating you to complete more tasks. Besides having a boost to your mood and motivation, creating lists helps your memory as well.

When you write things down, you give your mind the chance to see the words on paper commiting them to memory easier. In addition, if you read your list outloud, hearing the list adds another sense to the memory train thus increasing chances of remembering it even better.

Don’t make your list too long. You’ll become overwhelmed by the number of items and that often leads to quitting. I recommend starting with a daily to-do list with at least 5 but no more than 10 items.

If you’re like me, you’ll start making sublists of tasks to make sure you don’t miss any details. I have notebooks in all colors to keep track of my many goals and projects. What’s going on your to-do list to make your goal attainable?

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