Why Your 'To-Do' List Is Crushing You

Reading time: 2 minutes

Are you driving or being driven?

Do you look back at the last couple years and think 'Where did all that time go?'

Do you follow the common trail or branch out and trailblaze?

Are you letting impulses control your life?

If your life was a color, would it be gray?

During some coaching calls it becomes crystal clear.

When the cost of not pursuing what makes them happiest, their grandest dreams is put directly in front of them. 

Here, this is the cost of you living small.

Look at it.

Stare at it.

This is the cost! Are you okay with that?

They lean back, think for a moment as the weight of the power of choice falls down on them. 

Committing to singing your song...loudly, is not easy.

It's easy to live a victim filled,  mundane, average 'gray' lifestyle.

It's challenging to step into the role as a creator in this life.

However, I believe that this is the fundamental shift that we must make as humans in order to truly be happiest, fulfilled and live lives of meaning. 

I am committed to making grand ideas, philosophies and concepts into simple practical steps.

I consistently ask myself what are the small steps I can take, the subtle changes that will change everything.

Today, I want to present one of these practical steps.

We have all heard of the dreaded 'to-do list'.

The list that's filled with anxiety.

You accomplished 20 items on your to-do list, not 21? Obviously, you are not productive enough.

Many high-performers have these impossible standards for themselves.

You climbed to the top of Mt. Everest? Great...but did you walk on the moon?

Guilt, self-sabotage, anxiety and stress. 

It becomes a 'I have to do list' that fills you with desperation.

You no longer feel inspired, you no longer want to create, and there is no enjoyment in going through the process.

I used to look at the list and force myself to tackle it day in and day out.

Maybe I don't have enough discipline! That's it.

Maybe it's my level of focus! For sure that's it.

Willpower? Of course, how was I missing that!

While discipline, focus and willpower are essential to your success and must be upgraded to the highest levels, is it really the solution?

The subtle distinction:

From now on, I want to invite you to add two words before your 'to do list'.

From now on, on the top of the paper, journal or wherever you plan add:


I want to send this email vs I have to send this email 

Desperation vs Inspiration.

Being pulled toward your goals vs dragging yourself forward

Before going to the next item on your 'to do list' say to yourself. I want to do this.

I want to write this article.

I want to, I don't have to do anything in this world but die.

I want to do this.

Choose choice, and acknowledge that you have CHOICE!

It's the fundamental shift from victim to creator that we mentioned earlier.

Choose, acknowledge your choice and continue moving forward.


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Daniel Karan is an expert at helping clients develop the courage required to live extraordinary lives. He is the founder of the Bold Wolves Project for High-Performing Introverts. His main disciplines have been a cocktail of personality, social and behavioral psychology. His big picture is to inspire 100,000 humans to sing their song…loudly.