Tips for maximizing life versus dreading your to-do list.
By Dakota Snow.
Lately, I’ve been finding myself writing lots of lists…
Christmas, New Year’s resolutions, groceries, things I need to do. The contents of our lists imply an awful lot about us, if we really think about them, but we rarely do.
So maybe it’s time we take a second look at some of our lists, and reflect on what they really say about us.
I mention this because the contents of my own lists have changed a lot in the past year. I dedicated 2013 to finally pursuing my passion for writing, and finding myself along the way. If you were to compare my prior Christmas lists to this one, the differences would be obvious.
In the past, I would have asked for cool new clothes, computer games perhaps, and maybe makeup; this Christmas, my wishlist consisted just of books and pens. This year, the only thing I truly thirsted for was knowledge.
And I can tell I’ve found my calling, because the things I asked for this year truly reflected what I actually wanted. Every Christmas prior, I could only muster up a list of superficial semi-wants.
But this year? I could hardly wait to open all my books.
Likewise, my New Year’s resolutions have evolved to suit my passions and pursuits. Consider your own New Year’s resolutions:
- How closely do they resemble last year’s resolutions? (This may indicate how much you’ve changed or matured over the past year.)
- How many of them concern your physical appearance? How much of your effort do you dedicate to your exterior?
- How likely are you to achieve them? What’s stopping you? What obstacles have stopped you in the past, and what’s so different about this year that you think you’ll overcome them?
- Are your New Year’s resolutions addressing your true needs?
If you’re worried about adopting mainstream New Year’s resolutions for the sake of fitting in, consider some of these alternative, more liberating, hot-n-ready resolutions:
- Face it, your fears have held you back for far too long. It’s time to be afraid and do it anyway.
- Be real. Stop trying so hard to meet so many expectations. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. Stop trying to be ‘normal’. Just stop trying. Period. Be yourself.
- You can’t find happiness unless you look for it, so get looking!
- Dream big. I dare you. Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s never gonna happen.
- Be mindful.
Now that you’ve analyzed your New Year’s resolutions, take a second look at your most recent shopping list.
How many of your purchases were things you really needed? How many of them could you have done without?
- Do you pay extra for ethical alternatives? Organic? Local? Environmentally or socially responsible?
- Do you indulge excessively in things you know you shouldn’t?
- How does your shopping list reflect your values and priorities? (Because it does.)
There are many qualities you can discover in yourself based on your shopping list alone.
Consider, also, taking a second look at that to-do list. Every day, I write myself a new to-do list. Much of it consists of leftover to-dos from yesterday, or even several days ago.
Nonetheless, the things I do throughout the day closely reflect the kind of person that I am — the people I make time to see (or don’t), the tasks that I procrastinate on the most (like doing dishes), and the tasks I make time for (like writing). Try asking yourself the following:
- Are the items on your list things you assigned yourself, or tasks that someone else asked of you? (How independent are you, really?)
- Which to-dos consistently get done? Which don’t? And why don’t they get done?
- Which tasks do you look forward to or dread the most?
- Are you doing your fair share of to-dos? Are you doing as much as you could or should be doing? Or perhaps you do too much.
Why not shed some light on your to-dos? Maybe the problem isn’t the to-dos as much as your lack of motivation to do them.
In this case, instead of listing all the things you need to do, comprise a list of all the reasons you’d like to see them done.
Instead of Clean the house and Do the dishes, why not try Bask in an immaculate living space — the benefits or ultimate rewards of having finished the to-do, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the fruit of your labor?
This way, instead of dreading your to-dos, you can look forward to the end result in store, and focus less on the painstaking, tedious and often grueling means of reaching them.
Sometimes, we get overwhelmed with all the things we need to do.
We get caught up in the clutter of our minds and we despise our lives for being so demanding.
But our lists aren’t to blame. Rather, they remind us how privileged we are: to have presents under the Christmas tree, access to healthy food, a house to live in, clothes to clean and hands to clean them!
We mistake so many of our blessings for burdens.
Take some time to see your lists for what they are and, even more, what they tell you about who you might become.
Dakota Snow is a writer in Redwood City, California, dedicated to restoring her readers’ sanity. There are an awful lot of forces working against us that we may not even be aware of, whether they be physical or psychological. Her goal is to bring attention to these forces and the ways that we are affected by – and may ultimately overcome – them. If her words ring true to you, read more of them at her website.