Let’s clear your inner ‘to-do’ list, shall we?

I’ve been watching all the tips and tricks from coaches, lifestyle gurus, and mindfulness guides as the year ends. I’ve even done some and enjoyed them. You too?

But it got me curious — what am I hungry for? What do I need to clear out this season so I can open to the next?

Sometimes we look outside for the perfect formula, when there is a gentle interior invitation beckoning.

Here is what bubbled forth for me this week as I had some extra time to wrap up the year.

I hope it inspires you craft your own custom process. Or try this one on and take what you like.

Wishing you a very Merry Everything. And a gorgeous New Year with lots of space for the new!

PS I’ll be traveling to warm water with my beloveds over the holidays but will open my coaching calendar again in January. Space is limited. If you know you would like some TLC in nurturing those 2017 goals + dreams (remember #Wearen’tmeanttodothisallalone?) send me a quick email at cp@courtneypinkerton.com so we can preserve your spot. xo

How I Get Ready for the New Year

Step Number One:

Whiteboard Your Thoughts. Set the timer on your phone. Give yourself 20 minutes and a blank page in a journal or on your computer. Let it rip! Gather all those things you are carrying around internally — they really tax your bandwidth. It could be little things or big things in your work or life. Include also your volunteer action items. Gifts which need to be purchased. Appointments which need to be made. ALL OF IT. Get it in one space. If you have one or more current “to-do” lists going (I realized I had two by accident!) capture those items in this list as well.

This is the most important step. So often we carry around an internal set of to do lists, things we are just keeping track of in our mind or psyche. This is a huge drain. We need to trust ourselves to capture it and have a system that works for us.

(If you want to really go for the gold here you can also clean up saved or ignored emails so you feel confident you have captured it all. This alone has taken me a few days – I got kind of behind with non urgent correspondence after Thanksgiving. It happens! Let yourself begin the new year fresh.)

Step Number Two:

Tell the Truth

Check in with each item on your list and make sure you still want to do it. Do you really or is it just a “should” you have hanging around? This drains energy. Make a clean yes or no decision for now.

I’ll give you an example. About a year ago I went into a fierce reading frenzy around organizing our family finances + long term planning. I read a bunch of books and one of them suggested that instead of a will it is better to create a living trust.

It sounded like a good idea but as you can imagine there are many steps to implement it.

Later I talked with a family member who specializes in estate planning and he said it isn’t really necessary in Texas. (OK obviously I’m not giving you legal/financial advice here. You already knew that, right?)

This living trust item lingered on my list. Should I or shouldn’t I?

I ultimately decided that while there were a few other action items I needed to do to tidy up our will (which I have in motion to finish up in the next few days) I didn’t need to pursue this whole other legal structure right now.

So it is off the list. Not there at the bottom making eyes at me while I don’t do it.

So that is a pretty boring example. But our list (indeed life itself) is full of such mundane things. Remember, evaluate each item. It has to earn its way into your gorgeous plan for 2017.

Also notice your body compass as you engage your list.

Perhaps one of your “to-dos” isn’t just a thing you are lukewarm about but haven’t gotten to yet. Perhaps, likely even, you feel a bit icky about it and really don’t ever feel like doing it.

If you feel a subtle “ick” about any item on your list (i.e. have a negative body compass read) pause right away.

This is your opportunity for an integrity cleanse. (Thanks to Martha Beck for this great phrase).

If something is out of alignment for you. Recalibrate.

For example as a recovering overachiever and people-pleaser I can get out ahead of myself sometimes, particularly in relationships. Over-giving, taking on more than I actually want to do. Avoiding conflict.

But the body doesn’t lie.

Often we talk ourselves into things as requirements which really are not. Also life is constantly changing. And what can keep us from upleveling into the beautiful life we want today are the commitments we made previously which no longer fit us.

So if something doesn’t feel like a clean yes then don’t put that puppy on your 2017 list.

Instead ask these questions:

Do you really want to do it? Could you simply not? If so — bag it! Say “Sorry I have another commitment.” You do! Your commitment to your spacious life full only of the things which satisfy you and through which you feel most alive, generative and of service.

Could you get some help so you aren’t doing it all yourself?Identify specifically the support you need. Line it up. Schedule it in your calendar.

Could you make the process of doing it better somehow?With cozy pants, a dedicated chunk of time, and a favorite pot of tea for example?

Only then, if you have moved the dial on this “to-do” to the positive realm by including support for yourself do you put it on for 2017. Otherwise, seriously, just let it go. You aren’t going to do it anyway.

Now what about those things that no one wants to do but which make you feel so yummy afterwards? Space them out one a month.

Right now you could probably list three or more things you want to declutter. What if you made a declutter/cleanse program part of every month? For example in January I’m creating a virtual wallet and cleaning up my passwords. In February I’m tackling my desk drawer which has gotten overrun with sticky notes. And in March I’m cleaning the front closet.

Make yourself dates to check in. And put them in the calendar to make it real.

You can keep going — identifying a whole slew of things you need to tidy up, one per month for 2017. Imagine how your home and life might hum?

Lastly Step Three:

Make an Elegant List. Or as I like to call it: My Next Beautiful Steps.

How to structure your next beautiful steps?

I like to structure the to-do tasks by location asking where do I need to be to get them done:

Family/Volunteer (I pull these out from my work/biz tasks)

These are my four basic categories. Again tweak this to fit you!

So lets review. At its core there are really three steps:

Whiteboard (i.e. capture it all, the to dos inside your brain and on every other surface)

Remember each item has to earn its way into 2017. (AKA check in with your body compass and aim for a clean yes or a clean no for yourself + remember to line up additional support as needed.)

Create an elegant design for your 2017 Beautiful Next Steps— bundling by location.

One last tip -– don’t fall into a rabbit hole. It can be tempting to start to actually knock out the things on your list. If it will take less than 2 minutes, go for it. But otherwise keep focused on the meta process so you complete it.

Gift yourself a clean slate (free from the weight of an interior to-do list) and enjoy your set of gorgeous next steps for 2017!

Wondering about the Love Wins photo above? I got inspired to make this when I went to make a donation on behalf of the Soulpreneur Mastermind members from this Fall and discovered that finca.org was matching our donation 4 to 1! Finca is a non profit that offers micro loans to women entrepreneurs in the developing world. I love reading their success stories. Poverty doesn’t win. Making yourself small so you don’t make other people uncomfortable doesn’t win. Hate doesn’t win. Love wins! If you need a hit of inspiration (or want to make a year end donation) I hope you will check them out. xo 

Photo Nov 12, 6 14 05 PMCourtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and MindBody practices as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at cp@courtneypinkerton.com.

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