I spend a lot of time looking for ways to increase my own happiness. Like everyone, I deal with the constant demands of society, myself, my family and the world, in general, defining what happiness should be and how I should obtain it.

I’ve come up with a simple way to help achieve fulfillment and satisfaction in my life. I took from a quote from Kenneth Blanchard:

There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.

By understanding the difference between committed and interested, I apply these three easy steps daily that are significantly contributing to helping me live a happier life:

First, Identify everything you are thinking of doing…and put it on your interested list.

I maintain one list of things I am interested in working on, completing, thinking about, etc. This kind of represents a master to-do list for my life. It covers the demands my family, myself and my business place on me. (Or at least the ones I perceive are placed on me!) I used to think this list needed to be completed every day…

I used to believe that successful people completed their lists every day and I felt like a failure because I couldn’t get my list done.

What I learned over time was this was actually my interested list. And I didn’t need to beat myself up if I didn’t get it done daily. (Who actually completes over a 100 items a day?)

I use tools like Evernote to keep my lists in front of me at all times. Typically, before I go to sleep for the night, if my mind is racing, I get everything onto my interested list and review it in the morning.

Next, I maintain one committed list that I review and update on a daily basis. I use my interested list from step one to help identify those things I will commit to doing today.

As I’ve gotten better at doing this I’ve started to put less and less on my committed list, coming to the realization that I can’t get everything done I used to think I could.

When I think of a commitment as something I will compete and not accept excuses, it gives me a new way of evaluating what I actually can commit to.

My committed list serves two amazing purposes:

1) I am able to stay focused and actually complete what I have consciously decided to commit to.

2) I am able to evaluate what I need to get done objectively and say “No” without guilt.

I used to beat myself up over not being able to complete all of the items from step one.

I then used to beat myself up for not being able to complete an unrealistic number of items from step two.

The more in touch I got with myself the better I got in truly identifying and completing the items on my committed list.

Self-awareness about your own limitations and priorities is an amazing thing! Additionally, it’s amazing how much more productive you become with realistic commitments!

Finally, in addition to my committed list, I also set micro-goals that I need to accomplish every day.

So what is a micro-goal?

A micro-goal is a single step that helps move you closer to achieving a long term goal. For example, if you have to lose 100 pounds you have to start taking steps in the right direction. You don’t wake up 100 pounds thinner. You wake up and lose it, much like you gained it, 1 pound at a time.

In 2016, I was able to lose 70 pounds. I had a nutritionist that gave me a food plan. I exercised as best I could (I was starting at close to 360 pounds.) The most important thing that kept me moving was setting a daily goal to “Follow my food plan!”

The simple act of waking up every day and seeing my committed goal helped keep me focused. I wasn’t perfect, however, I didn’t need to be. I needed to be committed and I was! I needed to be aware.

Today’s micro goals are literally the baby steps that are required to achieve my long-term goals.

Micro-goals help me feel accomplished and re-enforce the creation of new habits. More about this another time…

Ultimately, I’ve learned my interested list grows indefinitely, my committed list helps me feel accomplished every day, and my micro goals help me move in a positive direction and benefits my overall well-being.

For more information on how I use happiness, goal-setting and task management to improve my life please visit my website aplanforliving.com

Originally published at medium.com