If you are reading this then you might be one of two types of people. People who I’m going to call, for some real excitement, Person A and Person B. I know it’s not that creative but it’s what we’ll go with.
As Person A, you are someone who lived today with gusto and accomplished more than you set out to do. Your to-do list has been marked off and it’s been triumphantly ripped up and tossed into the trash can; unless your organizer is an iPad or phone. It’s probably not good to throw them around. You worked hard today but I expect that most of the people you came into contact with were just ‘projects’ that needed to be checked off your list rather than humans. At the end of your day, before falling asleep, you have a sense of accomplishment in your work but you contemplate what else you could have done.
If you don’t relate to that profile then you could possibly be Person B: Someone who will fall asleep tonight from fatigue, stress and just plain being busy with who-knows-what. You carry some guilt for not being as successful with your priorities and your to-do lists are probably scattered on your desk, behind your desk, under your brake pedal, or maybe that’s what the dog was choking on earlier. You started the day out strong with your coffee in one hand and your beeping, buzzing, ring-toning iPhone in the other. But many times in the day you question your choice of that now-annoying ringtone and your too busy to Change it. People, procrastination and petty procedures stole this day from you. What day is it anyway?
I’m sure that I could also describe Person C, D or Q to fit your specific description of how you busied yourself today but you get the picture. We all awoke to the same sunrise. We all stopped at similar coffee shops. We all had an equal quota of time, the only currency that we’ll never get back. But each of us has a very different feeling of success or fulfillment when we eventually and hopefully find at the end of a long day.
So what does all of this have to do with trying to live today over? Good question.
What if tomorrow, when we all wake up, we choose to live it backwards? What if we start the day by thinking about it as already complete, already in the past? What would you and I do differently? Or let me say that another way, what if you started tomorrow by listing all of the things you would do if you could do today again?
It’s an interesting idea and it comes from Dr. Viktor Frankl, a Vienese psychologist who worked with depressed and suicidal patients. His theory and approach has helped tens of thousands of patients who needed rescuing. What’s remarkable is that so many people came to him for help and not one of them ended their own life while under his watch. In fact, many improved significantly thanks to his guidance. Donald Miller also references this theory on his website and it’s a core starting point for his learning tool for productivity called The Storyline Productivity Schedule: The One-Page Key to Increased Productivity.
Today as I write this, it is February, and in this part of Canada many people I’m running into are beginning to feel the ‘dead-of-winter blues’. Christmas is gone, spring isn’t coming soon enough and the days are still cold and grey, not to mention snowy. There’s a depressing tone in many people’s voices; and perhaps yours is one of the loudest. This causes many people to struggle even more in feeling productive at all with their day. Work tends to feel like drudgery at it’s peak.
If you can relate to any of the situations or emotions of the people I’ve mentioned, I would like to challenge you that you can make today count even more just by reminding yourself what deserves your attention today.
Try shaking up your morning routine tomorrow by spending a few moments, before checking your phone or reading any emails, and focus on your day ahead while your mind is it’s freshest. Your mental energy will slowly drain throughout the day so grab it before it get away. Sit down and write a list of four or five things that answer the following question: If I could live today over again I’d . . .
As Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Schedule suggests:
Asking yourself what you’d do differently if you were living today over again is one of the keys to living a more meaningful life and assessing priorities
Yes it’s a psychological mind trick! But in doing this you might realize that some of the things you’ve worried about are not worth it and some of the relationships you have could probably use more of your attention.
In fact, you might just turn some of your projects back into people.