Friday, July 3, 2009

Blessed are the List Makers

I confess that I am a compulsive list maker. It's not much of a confession since anyone who has spent more than five minutes in my physical presence has seen me whip out pen and paper to jot something down 'before I forget.' It's to the point that if I do something that wasn't on my list, the significance of that accomplishment is nullified. It's as if the crossing off makes it count.

I suppose it is in my genes, as I come from a family of listmakers. In my Grandmother's cedar chest, I have found her lists of expenditures and events dating as far back as the 1940s. My mother was making lists right up to the recent end of her life. Some of the mementos that I have kept are her final lists. I secretly feel that a little part of her spirit will always be here with me as long as there are unfinished To Do's on her list.

My eight-year-old daughter Chloƫ is becoming a fine listmaker herself. She makes very sweet little lists of things like "What do to Before Party" and "What to Pack for Trip" with entries like "Blow Up Balloons" and "Kiss the cat good-bye." I like her lists a lot more than mine, which catalog all the dull but necessary tasks like "clean the cat box" and "file insurance claim." I never write down things that were fun like "read a book with Cameron," "danced when nobody was looking," or even "cooked dinner without burning anything." I intend to take a hint from Chloe's playbook and write down something everyday that I did which fed my soul, and not just that which I did out of obligation.

There are others who have inspired me to improve my listmaking, and Coach Margit is at the top of the list. For decades, I would cross To Do's off when they were completed in full. Who doesn't, right? But then all I would notice at the end of the day were the Didn't Do's, rather than the accomplishments. Coach Margit taught me to highlight accomplishments in bright colors, rather than crossing them off. So now at the end of the day, I now see happy hot pink and bright orange highlighting all that I did do. The Didn't Do's fade to the background.

The Millionaire Mind seminars have also influenced my listmaking. Given the unpredictable nature of life on this planet, I often spend my entire day doing things that were never on my list. This used to depress me to no end, seeing an intact To Do List at the end of the day. I haven't had a day when I said, "I have nothing to do" since 1987, and yet my lists reflected so little of what I did do. My time should count for something, even if what I do (or don't do) isn't on a list. What if I saved a baby from a burning building? Would that not count because it wasn't on my list?
The Millionaire Mind seminars taught me to celebrate all of my successes, no matter how small. "I got out of bed today!" is cause for joyous celebration on some days. So now when I get to the end of the day, I jot down all of the major things I accomplished and then immediately highlight them. If I didn't do anything significant that day, then I make sure I jot that down ("I did NOTHING today!") and give it a double highlighting. In my busy life, that's the best accomplishment of all.

With all the help from the listmaking coaches, I still have a sense that I spend too much time making lists and too little time accomplishing -- or, better yet, doing nothing at all. Despite my deep affection for listmaking, I do enjoy the occasional day when I allow life to flow and I respond in kind without reference to any paper at all. I can visualize a time ahead when I give up the listmaking altogether, and listen to my heart to guide me through the day. Until then, I appreciate and bless my listmaking coaches. With their help, I am learning to accept the chaos of this physical time and space, assisted by a pen, paper, and two colorful highlighters.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your comments. Do you have a blog you think I'd like? Post a link!