07/29/2015 02:59 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2016

The Good-Day Do-Good Checklist

One night many years ago I was lying in bed, waiting for sleep and reviewing my day. I hadn't had a bad day, but I could not decide whether it had been a good day.

I realized then that my problem was that I did not have any standard for measuring the success of my day.

I needed a Good Day checklist.

Over the next several weeks I developed my test for the valuation of my days.

I decided on six criteria. It's simple. I just need to do one good thing in each category. Just one. Not so ambitious. I found that even if I did something I really loved all day long -- one single category did not give me that sense of satisfaction that comes from just doing something small in all six.

And I have been using this checklist for at least 20 years now. It works for me.

Each day is a Good Day if I:

1. Do something good for my home. Make the bed. Do the dishes. At least turn on the dishwasher.

2. Do something good for my body. Take a walk. Practice Yoga. Skip the donut, and eat the apple.

3. Do something good for my mind. Read a book. Learn something new. Maybe even listen carefully to an opinion I don't share.

4. Do something good for my work. Up to this point, my do-good list has been job related. To make sure I accomplish something worthwhile every day. You'd think I'd easily be able to accomplish SOMETHING at work -- that's what they pay me for after all. But I am sometimes surprised -- and appalled -- at how difficult this can be. But if I finish just one thing - that's a good day. And now that I am retiring, my focus will be on my new in-process novel. I can't wait to start checking this one off my list on a daily basis.

5. Do something good for someone else. Bring dinner to my mother. Compliment someone sincerely. Teach someone something. Perhaps just "Don't holler at you-know-who" is enough some days.

And finally:

6. Do something good for sheer pleasure. Watch that TV show that I'm embarrassed to admit I love. Reminisce over old photographs. Dance in my underwear.

I'll admit that there are days when I am on the floor at 11 pm getting in a few crunches. Or saying, "You looked nice in that shirt today, Honey," as I'm saying goodnight.

But most days, it's easy. Really easy.

And I have a clean house, decent health, interesting conversations, a successful career, good friends... and a smile on my face.

Read more from Nancy at her blog "Not Quite Old."