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To-do Lists

[Photo: wish i could see you... by jaanikas]

We all have never ending to-do lists of routine chores: Clean the house. Do the laundry. Finish the presentation. Pick up the kids. Make dinner.

We keep these to-do lists in plain sight -- on the refrigerator, in our PDA's -- so that we won't forget to complete a task. These lists most often consist of activities that we are required to complete, as they enable our lives, and that of those who depend on us, to run smoothly. Far less often do these to-do lists consist of activities that are meant to bring us joy, fulfill our passions, and nourish our souls.

These "non-essential" activities are most often itemized on a second to-do list that we keep hidden -- tucked away in a drawer or the recesses of our minds. We tend to practice the bad habits of continually adding to the list, but rarely completing items on it. As we move through different phases of our lives, we often review the list -- our unfinished business -- and find fuel for regret.

All too often we become jaded and overwhelmed by our day-to-day routines that we never take steps to accomplish the items on our hidden to-do list. We become too comfortable in our current state of being that the achievement of these goals becomes conditional. We make excuses for ourselves so that we don't have to step out of our confort zones. We tell oursleves that we'll start checking items off our list when...we have more money...we lose the weight...the kids go to college...it's not so busy at work.

Why put off something that will bring us happiness and pleasure? Why not start taking steps, no matter how small, to achieving an item on our lists today?

What are some of the items on your hidden to-do list?

What is one thing you can do today which will make progress towards completing one item on your list?

Just a note. We all have dreams big and small. Some dreams are not necessarily achievable or realistic given our own unique circumstances. However, in this post, I am referring to achievable and realistic goals -- learn a new language, take a dance class, travel to Spain. I may wish I was a ballet dancer, but my physical capabilities and stature make that an unrealistic goal for me. However, I can take an adult ballet class which would allow me to express that interest.

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Artwork. Drawing especially, and Sumi-e. Although I do have a special list for things like this; it's called the Someday/Maybe list. There are some things that are "Maybes" on there, and some that are "Somedays." But you're right, you still have to make time for them because the longer you wait, the easier it is to continue making excuses.

Hidden To-Dos... Still on the planned list, but are temporarily on the back burner:

work-related:
1. I want to get Certified.
2. I'd like to get my Master's, but that's further on hold right now than the first one. But still, I'd like to do it.

me-related, abridged:
1. I want to get a children's story published. I plan on working on this next month when I'm stuck in isolation.
2. I want to go sky diving, at least once.

On the hidden list/back burner

1 Write a book
2 Get myself driving again
3 Learn Tai Chi

I've been getting some slack for not mentioning some of things that are on my own to-do list, so here goes:

1. Travel to Europe, in particular the UK
2. Start my business
3. Become multi-lingual

I bought a teach yourself French program over weekend, so I am making a start! :)

If you don't mind, I thought I could help all of you by providing a small piece of advice. For your to-do lists to become a reality, turn them into goals and make sure each goal passes the SMART test. This is a true test for accountability. SMART stands for:

S - Specific. Is your goal well defined
M - Measurable. Do you have the tools neccessary to get to the end result?
A - Acheivable. Can you seriously acheive this goal or is it way out there where you may not be able to at the time you write out the goal
R - Realistic. Is this goal realistic or is it something that is impossible to attain.
T -Time. When do you want to achieve this goal. If you don't set a date for completion, it can stay out there forever because it is just a thought and by not putting a completion date on it, it could always remain on the horizon. As you know, you will never get to the end of the horizon.

Here are some of my goals:

Professional

1. Be a Regional Vice President for an education company I represent. I own my own business and becoming an RVP for this education company will assist in the continued growth of my personal business.
2. Help as many people as I can to become independently wealthy.
3. To be recognized by the SEC as an Accredited Investor.

Personal

1. Travel to Europe. Austrian Alps, Castles in Spain, and various other places.
2. Learn hot to play the drums.
3. Donate money to causes close to me heart and soul!

I'm ambitious, if you couldn't tell! I hope everyone has a wonderful night!!

Hey, Tony! I'll teach you to play the drums and various other percussive things if you'll teach me to be independently wealthy!

Angela...thanks for making us look at ourselves. You have a nice way of doing this.

Our visible to-do list often reflects who we think we should be for others or who we think others want us to be.

Our invisible to-do list often reflects the price we pay for living our visible list of to-do's. We shortchange ourselves when we don't attend to what is most important to us.

As a former list-maker, I can say that making lists in my life reflected my need to be in-charge of my life, including having control over many things that I had little or no control over. Also, it reflected my lack of trust in myself to have enough discipline in my life to get things done.

The positive side of lists (visible and invisible) is they cause us to focus our attention on activities. By focusing our attention, we give energy to things and they often get done. Our invisible list is represented by our unconscious intentions in many cases.

Time management and self-regulation are important to fulfilling our 'duties' in life. These duties may be self or other-imposed by the way. That is all well and good, as long as we find meaning and purpose in what we do.

One way to get at the unfulfilled aspect of ourselves is to declare a 'freedom day' when we allow ourselves to become 'listless' and open to the possibilities that freedom introduces. In many cases, that is the joy of non-doing.

Whether we adhere to our visible or invisible list, the key is finding meaning and purpose in whatever we do. It's all sacred...even the most mundane thing on our list. It's sacred because life is sacred and we are a part of life.

I find that I use my daily, routine, "to do list" as an excuse for not doing the "list" that really matters.

Genderist, My professional goal of helping people is true to life. I want to show people who really want to make a difference in themselves to achieve amazing heights. I don't want people to percieve I'm using this site for solicitation purposes. I wrote the goal to show people I'm serious about changing my life and willing to help others do the same. To discuss the meaning of this goal and what it means to me you can email me at ttoto.nsri@gmail.com. Have a great weekend and I hope all is well!

Some of those are definately things I've thought about doing, but never dedicated the focus/time to (language, travel, etc)

For me, on a grander scale than my normal day-to-day list:

1. flight lessons (helicopter, if i can find a place that does it.. there's -lots- of plane ones..) [to do this requires better eyesight]

2. better eyesight [not fixing this outright is just a fear thing.. and a logistics thing.. maybe when I'm living with someone, this'll be a little more realistic]

3. some sort of scenery'y cruise (alaska, or something like it) [honestly, i don't even know if I'll like it.. might get bored? :) just something i've never done..]

4. not my job. (i want to do something else, but be able to do it without feeling like I've abandoned my friends/responsibilities)

5. some stock answer about fast cars, and boats, and a huge house, and all that.. but to be honest, I don't care about any of that. Someone to need that needs me is worth more to me than any asset will ever be. :)

--

I don't personally see an unfinished list as a bad thing per se, though.. There are a lot of other goals that I've set out to do, and completed.. took ground school classes (towards the flight thing), learned to play guitar, strived to be debt free, etc..

I think it's equally important to truly remember (and praise yourself!) the things you've accomplished, rather than just focusing on what you haven't done :)

1. own a Harley- Davidson
2. Be in a production of Hair or Jesus Christ Superstar
3. run my own no-kill animal shelter

1)I would like to systematically gather all of the tedious people on the planet, load them up into huge rocket ships and fire them off into Outer Space. Then I would sit back and enjoy all of the charming people and marvel at what we could really accomplish as a species.
2)I would like to get a puppy.
3)Have lunch with Richard Dawkins, David Attenborough and Robin Williams.

Thanks for the prompt!

I would like to be more adventurous.

Thanks for sharing all! Best wishes for making your goals and dreams realities!

Tony: Thanks for passing on the SMART criteria for goals, very helpful!

Don: Thank you for your thought provoking comments! I myself am not big on lists, and often try to plan my days and activities based on how I feel. My struggle however, is sometimes forcing myself to fight the laziness that can set in from time to time. I really like your suggestion of a 'freedom day' -- I think it is important for all of us to take time to listen to our inner selves without the interference of our "obligations." Finally, thanks for the reminder that all things, no matter how mundane, are sared. Beauty and purpose can be found in everything!

LV7: I agree that an unfinished list is not a bad thing. I think what matters is why the list is unfinished. Thanks for the reminder that it is very important to praise ourselves for the things we accomplish in our lives -- I know I struggle with this personally, being too much of a perfectionist.

homo escapeons: Curious to know what criteria you are going to use to determine which people are tedious and which are charming! I sure hope I will fall into the charming category! ;)

As for your lunch, is that gonna be a lunch with all at the same time? That could be rather interesting! :)

Of course you are on the charming list (Oscar Wilde rules) and yes lunch would be with all three. Hopefully Robin will let the other two get a word in every now and then.

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