Want to Build a Better You? Make a ‘Kick-Off’ List

How to become a better version of yourself with this important checklist

Make a kick-off list to grow as a human

The list of self-actualization strategies are endless, but amidst the hunt for new, different, and better I’ve found a simple growth metric you can use to improve any and all aspects of your life.

Meet the Kick-Off list.

Before we get to the meat of the list, I’ll tell you what it isn’t. This is not a bucket list. We’re not going to talk you into bungee jumping or asking a stranger to marry you.

Bucket lists make for great television, but for the rest of us, we’re alive right now. We just want to be a better version of the person we already are.

There’s a lot of advice that says we shouldn’t focus on our shortcomings, but only focus on our gifts. This is terrible advice. If you are impossible to be around because of certain flawed behaviors, none of your gifts will be worth a wooden nickel.

We know what we should do and how we should be, but we don’t always practice what we preach.

We should learn to love the process of getting better — of working for the sake of doing our best work. This is how we grow — when we improve the good and repair the bad. Here’s a post I wrote about loving the process:

What’s a Kick-Off List?

A Kick-Off list is a running total of every behavior you should change to become a better version of yourself. This isn’t about a boob job, a fake chin, or getting rich. These are core behaviors you need to improve so people will want to be around you and you’ll want to be around yourself.

We’re going to work together on this one. I’m excited to see what your lists look like. I’ll share a little of mine in a minute (not all) and we can compare notes. The Kick-Off list is not some easy way out. This is a single reference list to which you’ll refer, for all behaviors you need to improve. You’re about to give yourself a time-out.

We’ll never become perfect, but we can always get better.

How to Make a Kick-Off List

First, we’re going to dig deep, vulnerable, and real. We’ll take a hard look at your past arguments, the rib-jabs, and suggestions others have made to you. Remember, change isn’t only about what we want to make better, but also what we can do to be better for the people close to us.

Next, we’ll look inward and finish the list with all the things you’d like to change so you’ll feel better from the inside.

The Kick-Off list will feel like drinking mouthwash in a carwash. You’ll be sparkly and new, inside and out — but it’s going to hurt a little. Change always does,

First, make your ‘others’ list

Whether it’s a loved one, coworker, or close friend, we all need people in our lives to enhance our well-being. If we suck to be around, our loved ones and friends will leave us. This is the part of the list to help you suck less around others.

We all have the wet toast friend — you know, the one no one remembers if they were at the party or not. If you don’t know if you have a friend like that, you’re probably the wet toast friend.

So, how do we make people not leave us?

This is the beginning of our list (we’ll get to the stuff you want to fix later). Remember, the Kick-Off list is one big running tally of everything you need to work on. We’ll tic them off one at a time, together.

I’ll help you get started. I’ve got plenty of things to work on. So, I’ll get a little vulnerable here. Some examples of things to add to my Kick-Off list:

  • Chronic lateness (I’m working on that here)
  • Interrupt people as they speak
  • Talk with my mouth full of food, because I get so excited to share my opinion
  • A one-upper with ‘ooh, I’ve done that too’ stories
  • I have no attention span (I’m working on that here)

Second, add your personal list

Once you’ve got the external part of your list complete, it’s time to think for yourself.

This is the lower portion of your Kick-Off list, where you add all the things you’d like to change about yourself. These behaviors may have nothing to do with others. Think inward.

  • Overweight, need to eat better and get fit
  • Don’t meditate enough
  • Don’t find purpose in my current vocation
  • Not very brave
  • Not a consistent writer

I think you get the idea. These are the big rocks that hold you down.

The Kick-Off list is your collection of the best stuff. Your list may be long or short. Length doesn’t matter. Make sure everything on the list is important to you. Some of these items may takes years of work to remove.

How to Use the List

The how-to part is simple. You pick one item off the list at a time and work your ass off until the behavior no longer applies to you.

The execution is the hard part.

Most-everything on the list will be behavior-based. When we get into behaviors we’re in habit-building territory. When we’re in habit territory we’ve got to re-wire our brains to remove the ugliness.

What’s on Your List?

When we share we grow. When we can be vulnerable with others, to let our freak flags fly, we give ourselves the reason to change — we’ve put it all out there.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 12 or 102. We can all change.

‘People never change’… awww bullshit, I say. Some change is a lot harder than others. If you pick your nose in public, stop. There, you’re done. If you’re an alcoholic, this will be a lifetime of work. Everything on the list is relative.

I’d like to see what you come up with. There’s no shortage of improvements we can make, but paring down a list to a manageable size can be difficult. And while you’re working on your Kick-Off list, make sure you build a playbook too:

Don’t just write down a bunch of characters flaws and wipe your hands of the process. Make a small list, pick one Kick-Off and work on it until you can draw a fat, black line through it.

It’s time to get better. What are you waiting for? What’s on your list?

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