Building Your Sense Of Self-Worth Using SMST

Building Your Sense Of Self-Worth Using SMST

A powerful way to build a sense of self-worth in your life.

As working professionals, parents and online entrepreneurs with a vision, we all have a never-ending list of to-dos and projects. Running a business or a project, naturally means coordinating and managing multiple moving parts. At the same time, bringing a project to its completion is essential for feeling a sense of progress and a sense of accomplishment about our work which feeds into our sense of self-worth.

But more often than not, there’s a constant supply of things to do. Projects take weeks to complete and as soon as one hits completion, there’s another one on the horizon. When we are also juggling home and family duties along with personal care on top of our business and careers, then there seems to be no end to all the tasks that need to be done. This cycle ends up overwhelming us, draining our energy and over time it can zap our motivation and drive for the very things that we most wanted to accomplish.


Photo by  Teddy Kelley

Photo by Teddy Kelley


In the face of all of this never-ending lists of tasks, how then do we feel any sense of completion or progress?

Personally, I have felt this exact scenario play out over and over again in the course of last eight years. Thankfully, I have found for myself a solution that works. And I hope it will help you as well in building a sense of accomplishment and a track record that you can look back upon over the course of time.

Every day before I go to bed, I really like the feeling of “Ah, what a good day it was today.” And I noticed that if I had a long open list of to-dos hanging around at the end of my day, even after toiling the whole day to get things done, this good feeling of a job well done would evaporate, no matter how much I accomplished that day. It felt like I could never beat the magically-growing list of tasks. And that left me utterly unsatisfied with myself.

So this is what I came up with:

Choosing A SMST At The Start Of The Day
(or the day before if you can)

SMST stands for Single Most Satisfying Task. So, I started choosing the single most satisfying task to be done that day. Now there are two key parts of this phrase that I want to highlight:

  1. Single: Yes, single! You must choose just one thing that you want to accomplish in that day, not any more. Now of course, you will most likely end up doing more than that one thing in that day. However, this is not about the entire list of to-dos. It is about picking the one thing that if you completed that day, will make you feel accomplished at the end of the day. So if everything goes wrong and you are not able to get to do all the things on your day schedule, you can say to yourself: “Ah, thank goodness, I at least got this one thing done.” So your day is always rescued from chaos - because you got at least one important step forward. And most likely, you will do plenty of other things any ways. But this one thing anchors you and gives you the feeling of progress. So it is important that this one thing is important to you which brings me to the next point:
  2. Most Satisfying: This is a key phrase because not all tasks are created equal. Some will move you forward but you don’t care much about them in the big picture. This task has to be most satisfying in the sense that when, at the end of the day, you look back and see this one thing crossed off, you know that you have made real progress. Of course, this task can’t be too huge that it cannot be done in that one day. It also can’t be so huge that all other obligations and tasks of that day are neglected. There’s certainly got to be a balance.

The critical thing that can make this work is to start with what matters most to you. I’ve got more details on how to figure out what matters most to you in this blog post where you can also download a free worksheet. You can use it for both personal and business goals. After you complete this worksheet, in a matter of minutes you’ll know exactly what matters most to you and this will determine what is the most important task you have at hand.

Once you know what the most important project is, then you can more easily determine what is the SMST or the single most satisfying task is. So for example, from the above worksheet, you find out that writing your first book is what matters most to you. Then, you can set an achievable goal for each day; let’s say that's writing a 1000 words or showing up at your computer from 9am to 11am. There you have this clear goal. You sit down each day for an hour or two and produce these 2 pages (at least). After you accomplish your SMST, record this in your tracking calendar. Many productivity and habit coaches teach that tracking your new habit is a foundational element of building a habit because it creates a visual chain that you can see and don't want to break.

Now of course, during the rest of the day you will most likely produce a lot of other things and complete a lot of other tasks. But even if you don’t, you will have those 2 pages under your belt and you can then go to bed with a sense of satisfaction: “my day was productive. I got 2 pages forward in completing my book”. Then you see the results in your tracking calendar over time and that really makes you feel motivated to keep going.

Why us this SMST tool again?

This sense of satisfaction, completion and accomplishment comes in tiny bits each day and is crucial for a sense of self-worth. And it builds up over time. As you see all the key things you have done over time, you really begin to value yourself more. Why? Because you begin to respect yourself more: Oh, wow, look how I persevered daily for 6 months and created this x (end result such as a book). Of course, in the big picture you are worthy and valuable regardless of what you accomplish, because you are a precious human being. But at times we are not able to recognize that in ourselves and we feel useless or not a contributing member of society and that can bring us down. Or we feel so overwhelmed with everything that we cannot see all the things we are already doing that is of value and helpful to others. And so, such a daily device of SMSP is very useful in building a sense of self-worth and a daily sense of fulfillment with our lives. Not only do you build a sense of self-worth, you also get moving on your goals more easily!

So my dear friends, I have these two worksheets for you. One is to help you figure out what matters most to you. And the other is to help you daily identify your SMSP and then track its completion. You can put this in your bathroom or closet wall or right next to your computer.

Steps for using the SMST Self-Worth tool:

This is how you use it:

1. Find out what matters most to you.

You can choose one for personal and one for business or combine them into one. 
Ex: Being more active. Taking time for mental wellness. Writing a book.

2. Determine what task you can do to implement that into your life.
Ex: Writing everyday or Walking or Meditating everyday

3. Then identify the SMST or the single most satisfying task.
Ex: Walking for 20 minutes from 7 to 7:20am right after brushing teeth. 
(Shower and Breakfast is from 7:30 to 8:30)
Ex: Meditating for 30 minutes from 8:30 am to 9am right after breakfast.
Ex: Writing 2 pages from 9 am to 11 am right after meditating.

Tip: It is important to create triggers. A trigger is something that happens right before your new habit. So 'right after breakfast' or 'right after meditating' are both triggers. So once you have breakfast, you know what happens next. This is not something you have to think of each time, its' pre-decided and because you don't have to decide this every day, the new habit has an easier time to form.

If you create a clear trigger for your SMST then it is more likely to happen. I’ve found that it’s an easier way to build a new habit. As you can see in the above example, with triggers and clear tasks, you can even build three different habits on top of each other. Start with one habit at a time though. When that one's in place, add another. Don't go doing all three new habits at once - that's not sustainable in my experience.

4. Then, record and track it in your calendar (see free calendar download).
Ex: Walked for 20 minutes from 7:15 to 7:35am
Ex: Meditated for 30 minutes from 8:45 to 9:15. 
Ex. Wrote 1.5 pages from 9:15 am to 11am.
The idea behind tracking is to simply see how you did, not for judging yourself for being late or even for missing out on it completely.  Tracking encourages you to pick the habit again and keep going but if you miss, just start again.


Do this for at least a week and see how it feels. Give it a try and if you feel more accomplished continue it for another week. 

I hope my dear friend that this approach of choosing your daily Single Most Satisftying Task is helpful to you and that you will use the What matters most worksheet along with the Record & Track SMST calendar to build your sense of self-worth and a sense of completion and fulfillment at the end of the day.

So after going through the What Matters Most worksheet and the SMST Tracking Calendar, tell me in the comments, what is your SMST for today? I'd love to know!