Asking More of Your To-Do List

Its winter, perfectly fluffy white snow has finally fallen, temps are in the single digits and the calendar has just turned into to a new year.  For me, the world in this season moves at a precious slower pace.  I find time to binge watch ridiculous TV, my latest being about living off the grid in Alaska…sub-zero camping anyone?  I give in to the overwhelming urge to sell, donate or throw away unused items around my office and home.  Inevitably, there is reflecting on the past twelve months and time spent planning for the next.  It’s a sort of nesting I suppose, parts well planned out and others extremely haphazard, but it’s my system and my time and something I hold dear. 

My process began with a pencil and paper, resulting in a rigorous to-do list.  It was random and left me feeling scattered, with a hint of overwhelmed.  And intrinsically I knew that completing the items on this list would not lessen that nasty feeling, yet, I went on with my process.  The list contained insignificant daily chores, to large work projects, things I’d been putting off and activities I’d only just conjured up that morning.  There was no priority, no time frame, just a big ole’ brain dump.  And don’t get me wrong, I love a good brain dump.  But in this case, I didn’t question what was written.  I didn’t assign values or determine importance.  I didn’t do anything I teach in workshops or to my private clients.  Instead I proceeded, dutifully checking things off.  Because that’s what we do, right?  We want the feeling of productivity.

However, is getting busy on DOing the right thing? 

Waking up the next day, my answer to this question was a resounding “NO”!  I was still feeling like a sunken ship and that opened up a willingness to consider another approach.    

We live in a world of lists, busy work and accomplishing of unnecessary things.  Is this true success or a false sense of success?  Our lives appear busy, thereby we feel important.  Then, why does doing more not equal greater satisfaction or joy?  Let’s say I shifted into lightning speed and finished this ludicrous list.  It wasn’t going to bring internal fulfillment or provide a deeper connection with my spirit.  And in creating the list, that’s the essence of what I was seeking, a metaphorical cleaning out of sorts, a lighter load, a deeper peace.  And dang it, this list manifested heaviness. 

There must a different approach. 

I found myself solving this myriad of thoughts by asking a better question.  Is this the right person to be? 

Words that have been etched in my mind in the last year appeared like neon, “Start taking incredibly good care of yourself”.  When my dear friend and mentor originally imparted this advice, it sounded so simple!  How had I never previously considered it?  Over the last year, I’ve have experiences arise that offer further digestion of the depths of her words, and this was certainly one. 

Does this mean we ditch the list?  Certainly not, but by looking at each item on the list and asking, “Is this the right person to be?” easily reveals what isn’t important and can be removed.  Now, there are times we must get stuff done and it’s going to suck along the way but that’s part of being an adult.

However, this time next year, it wouldn’t matter most of what was on my recent list.  The more important lesson I’d carry is learning the difference between what sounds good and what truly is good.  Peace, I’m learning, is usually hidden in the being, not in the doing.  And in this case, my relationship with myself takes huge precedent over whether or not I got the old, grubby dishtowels thrown away. 

What is your list to start the year looking like?  If you’re looking for permission, give it a swift kick to shake off the appeared productivity.  Then, your job becomes to work through what’s left. 

I wish you all well in 2018!

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