I am a list maker. In fact, the practice boarders on an obsession. I have a list for books I want to read, movies I’d like to see, things I need to do, food I’d like to cook and places I want to visit to name a few. At this stage of life, my lists serve a variety of purposes. I have a Pinterest site with rows and rows of Boards that span several topics. Those boards, along with the Instagram accounts I follow, are the ultimate feel-good lists; no words – just inspiration. My other lists provide focus, accountability and motivation.
Making a list reduces the clutter in your mind and gives order to things that matter. Whether it is a list of what you want to do or what you need to do, the act of writing a thing down implies commitment. Inevitably, that commitment will narrow your focus and lead to clarity, accomplishment, and growth. Lists can easily transform the way you think, act and feel.
During my working years, I used lists to organize tasks and manage time. Lists kept my attention focused on priorities at hand, as well as long term goals. Productivity was paramount to success and my lists were a constant reminder of the big picture. When I became a Mom, there were more tasks than time and managing my “things to do” list was imperative. That list helped eliminate useless or repetitive actions and conserved much needed “mommy” energy. A time management list is probably the most restrictive and joy sucking list of all. It feels great to no longer need that one!
Just this week, I made a list in the comments section of a blog. Tamara at My Retirement Project wrote a post titled, “Five Things That Make Me Happy” and asked her readers to respond with their list of five things. I think I listed about ten. When I finished writing the list, I felt immensely satisfied. It included a lot of things that contribute to my balanced lifestyle; social time, couple time, personal fitness, and life-long learning challenges. Since I place a lot of value on each of those categories, it was nice to see that my reality and my intentions are in sync. It does not get better than that. The same thing can be achieved with a gratitude list. Make a list of all the things that are good in your life and feel your spirits lift before you finish writing.
When I take on a new project, the first thing I do is make a list that begins with the goal. Doing that organizes my thoughts and helps me to prioritize tasks, with the ultimate goal always staring at me from the top of the list. Adding a time-line to the list is an extra step that I find helpful.
We have all used a Pros and Cons list to resolve issues. It is the first thing I do when faced with an important decision. Our empty-nest and retirement stage of life brought lists and lists of “what next” types of questions to consider. Making those lists separately and jointly helped us find common ground and work toward a unified goal.
This list is an unfortunate necessity for me these days. I cannot go to the market without creating a list first. I am a big fan of the Notes function on my phone, and keep most of my lists there. That tool comes in handy when someone mentions a new restaurant, book, movie, or product that I know will be forgotten within thirty minutes of the conversation. My daily schedule is listed on Google Calendar, and has built in alarms to remind me where I am supposed to be at any given time. Without that list, I am lost.
List making and accomplishing goals go hand in hand for me. My list of things to accomplish includes a healthy balance of challenges and routine that keep me motivated and moving forward. This is where I celebrate and feel good about me. It is probably the most common list of all, but it requires the most attention and dedication. Restrictive goals derail efforts and can be damaging to self-esteem, so it is important to be realistic and flexible. At this stage of life, the purpose of goal setting for me is to generate feelings of anticipation, excitement, and ultimately, contentment.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Feel free to add your list of lists!
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