I was talking with a friend the other day. She was lamenting about waking in the middle of the night, thinking about things she needed to do. She has mastered her calendar and doesn’t miss appointments or meetings or events – it’s the daily, weekly, etc. tasks– buy bandaids, organize the coat closet for summer, drop the books at the library, write down something, finish a project, etc etc etc - that keep her awake (ugh! For me, a good night sleep is money in my immunity system bank!)
I understood; I told her I’d go nuts without my lists.
She answered that she doesn’t do lists – why not? – because the list never gets completely done and she feels like a failure.
Reflecting on the conversation, I realized how thankful I was to be trained by a master list-keeper; my Mom. For her, the purpose of a list was organization, not a sense of accomplishment. She always kept lists and scratched off as she went.
This is the place where my friend and I see lists differently. She feels a lack of success, whereas I feel the opposite. My first success is writing things down. I experience great relief to not have to review my mental list over and over (and over) again so I don’t forget anything. My second success is remembering where I’ve put my lists.
And, where my friend sees failure to get to the end and have a sense of accomplishment, I feel successful from the movement. My method is to keep an on-going list of anything – in a small notebook or clipboard (my mom would have LOVED post-its!) Every couple of days, I cross out what’s accomplished. (I’ve learned not to put ‘laundry’ on the list – it never goes away!)
Every couple of weeks, I transfer what’s been added and what is left to a new list, throw the old one away, and keep going. “Buy this, pay these bills, record this phone number, google this, etc.” - these get crossed off easily. (success! Hey – it all counts!) Some things need more information, aren’t do-able, need better contacts, are seasonal, etc. Some things are (or turn out to be) long range – I put the herb garden (including the list of what I wanted to grow) over 5 years ago and I got to cross it off this spring!
Since I’m older – who isn’t – and my stride is shorter, baby steps are just fine with me.
Susan Beyler, Integrative Therapist