Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

I love lists.

I love writing down what I want to get done, how much time it will take me to get it done, and especially crossing it off when it’s done. Hell, yeah, I’ll even write down a chore I have already finished. Just for the sake of crossing it off.

Since three weeks I include my daily routine of self-care on my to-do list. I consider self-care the most important investment in my work, so it is a high priority. I wanted to know how long those commitments actually take. Guess what the first item on this list is?

Getting up.

Just getting out of bed, getting dressed, making green tea.

Guess how I feel after three weeks crossing it off my list?

Delighted. Excited. Amused. Even if I didn’t succeed in getting everything done I wanted to get done, I did get one thing done, every day: getting up.

I giggle.

I am a winner, just by getting out of bed and getting dressed.

I also feel a bit embarrassed about my delight. Since when do I care about crossing off ‘getting up’? Aren’t there more important things in the world?

There are. No doubt about that.

And after I listen to Simon Sinek I get it.

It is not because it is so important. It is because of Dopamine.

Dopamine is the hormone that gets produced when we set goals and achieve them. The more visual the goal, the greater the satisfaction. As visual beings, we like to see what we are striving for, even if only in our imagination. Writing our commitments done is a visual act. That’s why it is such a happy feeling of relief and satisfaction, when we can cross things off. We accomplished our goal and the dopamine shot inspires us to get more things done.

Now I have scientific proof that to-do lists work.

And in that blissful knowledge, I update my list.

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