I’m a list maker. One of my standard lists is one I call “Things Hanging Over my Head” (reference the sword of Damocles). These are things, that, absent this list, would be swirling around in my head because they are long put-off. Stuff that needs to happen which I am hiding from.
When I was a wee child we used to get drawings (maybe from Scholastic magazine? can’t recall) which said “What’s wrong with this picture?”
I think that’s human nature – to seek out what is wrong with a situation.
Today is my last weekday ‘day of freedom’ before I start my new job on Monday. I’ve been off work for a little over four months. My mind wants to leap to what I did not do during this time off – all the ‘coulda/woulda/shoulda’ stuff. I’m especially aggrieved that I did not spend much time with two little boys who are precious to me – ouch!
But in focusing on “What’s wrong with this picture” I can easily miss all that is right.
I used to be a life coach (see Be Your Own Life Coach: Dream It! Plan It! Do It!) and I’d challenge my clients to make lists (yearly, monthly, weekly, daily) by areas in their life. The areas I focus on are:
- Friend/Family Member
- Me, my money and other administrative things
- Home/Car/Motorcycle – my stuff
I must admit, I haven’t done a yearly goals list in quite some time, and am somewhat slipshod about the monthly lists. But I virtually always do a weekly and daily list – I’m far too active with a busy mind to keep on top of things otherwise.
Besides ensuring I attend to what I want to achieve, making the lists helps me see, clearly, my priorities (hint: the family/friend list is almost always the longest). I can then prioritize things within each list – or not.
I’m going to assign myself the task of making a list of “What I Did with my Four Months Off” so I can clearly see that it wasn’t all Words with Friends, Bejeweled and too much chocolate. And so that I can balance “I should have spent more time with Thomas and Michael or called Ann W. more often” with “I said I wanted to make it a priority to see Mary M. more frequently and I did that.”
I’ll also note that since family and friends are what matters to me most, that’s where I am tending to ‘coulda/woulda/shoulda’ myself. I can look around my house and say “oh wow!” as I have gotten a lot of things done here – some of which were on that “hanging over my head” list for YEARS. Yay, me!
By the way, the ‘categories’ list idea came from Steven Covey’s wonderful book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” He suggests starting with a list of roles you play in your life and setting goals in each area. That has served me well for many years. You might try making THAT list as a starter.
So I’m curious about you.
- Are you a listmaker? What lists do you typically make?
- Do you tend to focus on ‘what’s missing’ rather than what you’ve achieved?
I’d really like to know!