Sadly and not surprisingly, in our performance-based culture, the primary metric for a successful day is getting the to-do list done.
Unfortunately, it's not practicing self-care, solving an interesting problem, doing something courageous, uplifting others or maintaining healthy relationships.
Inherently, there's nothing wrong with getting the list done other than it means you're only as good as your last accomplishment.
The dilemma is people who aren't getting their to-do list done, don't know how to be happy without its completion.
When I tell people they can be happy, if they want to, before they achieve anything, they look at me sideways.
I reframe this existential problem by helping them understand they can either 1. Allow the to-do list to be the cause of their happiness or 2. Allow their happiness to be the reason why they complete it.
Read that a few more times.
In the first scenario, your to-do list is the gatekeeper of your happiness (scarcity), while in the second scenario, you own your happiness and choose to express it anyway you'd like (abundance).
I'm not sure why so many people place their happiness in things outside of them but my sense is, our capitalistic culture prefers it that way.
Oh, by the way, this was me not all that long ago and I've learned how to root my happiness in something so foundational, I can enjoy happiness before I achieve a single thing: my breath.
Performance-based worthiness is a disease of the soul, where people allow painful, defining experiences of their past to be predictors of their worth and they try to fill the void with their to-do list, among other things.
The good news is, since you gave your happiness away, you can take it back and start your day happy instead of hoping it ends that way.
"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace and gratitude." Denis Waitley