What’s the difference between to-do lists and purposeful planning?
EVERYTHING! one can be BORING and annoying and give us the ILLUSION that we are actually in control of our lives. To-do lists NEVER EVER END and once something is crossed off- something else appears. These lists FEED our addiction to being busy, help us feel as if we have REALLY accomplished something ( which may or may not be true), and all at the same time- leading us into a TRAP of low level anxiety and never enough-ness, not to mention they also give us a false sense of control over our world.
Where did this come from? Looking back on my own history- I think I saw other people doing it and then just assumed that was how I was supposed to live to have a good life.
Once I started practicing awareness in my own life on a daily basis I was able to see that the practice of creating and crossing off lists was actually HARMING me and my actual life rather than helping me- so I have actively taken steps over the past 5 year specifically to change how I plan and thus, how I live- How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
I often wonder why women tell me they don’t have time for themselves, for meditation, for art, for dance, for dreaming, for LIFE- and I remember back to the days when I did not either- of course there are MANY factors involved but for most women it’s b/c most of there life is about everyone else. ( I’m also super interested in the topic of control and boundaries but more on that in another blog post)
Okay- picture this- 15 years ago, I was the MASTER list maker. And do-er. The list never ended. There was always something else I could add that HAD TO BE DONE. It felt like I HAD to spend the Saturday afternoon getting the new work shoes, picking up dry cleaning, working, doing, doing, doing. I would put everything on there JUST so I could cross it off- sound familiar? DO MORE! BE MORE! ACCOMPLISH MORE! RARELY, if ever did the lists have creative, interesting, juicy fun self care or soul filling ideas. I really did not know what that could even look like ( or FEEL LIKE).
Meanwhile- I felt pretty dis-engaged with my spirit- my body and my monkey- mind was REALLY all over the place! Here is how it made me feel- pseudo accomplished and then restless at night b/c I would look at the list for tomorrow, if the list got too short- I would make stuff up- organize photos, clean closets, schedule an appointment, join a committee at work or at Temple or in the community. Now, let’s be clear there is NOTHING wrong with these list items IF they bring you joy- IF they truly need to get done but.. they most certainly do not make MY heart sing- I could never find time to paint or dance or take long walks in the woods. I was TOO BUSY DOING list items.
The list NEVER ended and my energy around it was intense. I was missing lots of other areas of my life – in order to get back to the list. YIKES. After years of yoga practice I was able to see this pattern in my life- my yoga practice taught me a lot ( and continues to teach me) about the habits I have that ARE NOT HELPFUL and do not feel good or truly help/ serve anyone.
Fast forward to today. My lists look different. They are full of dreams and poems. Of wishes and sometimes goals .. but to be honest I don’t really live by them anymore.
And the ones I have look and feel SO DIFFERENT.
With my old lists- I felt reactive to life- I felt like I could never keep up. If the list go too small- I started making stuff up to put on it.
With the new way- I feel energized by the proactive -ness of my life- my dreaming, my visioning and my mission..felt so INTENTIONAL.
I also changed it up to do the 3 top things a day list ( I keep post its next to my bed and the night before I write down the 3 most important things that have to be done the next day in my life sometimes it is work related, sometimes it is life related) – I get to throw out or delete the list that day, once I finish those items! And I also allow myself to play, create, enjoy life if and when those 3 things get finished.
NOW, let me be clear I use WUNDERLIST to organize myself. To make a few longer lists for work, for our family, the books I want to read, the places I want to travel, the updates we need to do on the website. BUT I DO NOT interact with these lists daily. I do not use them to RUN or manage or dictate my life or my worth. And most days I barely look at these lists- but I have them to drop ideas and they keep me moving forward when I schedule in my allotted “update wunderlists” time monthly which I do- then I also see how my projects move forward, change and evolve.
I hope these topics helps you also be able to release the list and live more in your actual life, as YOU want it from a pro-active/ values based lens.
want to talk more? firstname.lastname@example.org – let’s talk about how to make this work FOR YOU.
ENERGY. the energy around planning your days and your life is such an important part of the process. are you frenetic? are you rushed? are you anxious? do you give your self time to rest and wonder and be alone and DO NOTHING. if not- start here. notice everything. how does it make you feel when you do nothing? bored? anxious? lonely? sad? yep. okay- time to sit with that. FEEL IT IN YOUR BODY.. so many of us are racing around chasing our tails b/c we don’t want to feel those BIG feelings that come up when we get quiet.
SHIFT. As I shifted from TO DO LISTS to creating my days intentionally- the mood changed. I slowed down enough to put on good music, light the candle, make a cup of tea and REALLY listen to my soul. WHAT DOES SHE NEED AND WANT. BEFORE, I was literally making lists in the car- while shoving lunch in my face, smoking a cig and yelling at someone out the window. not really the image of the person I WANT to be- nor is that really setting the stage for space, peace, clarity.. which are USUALLY on the top of my values and “ways I want to feel” lists. Also- by setting the mood for planning with things I LOVE in places I love – I started to tell my brain, yep- planning my life is FUN! I started to send the message- THIS FEELS GOOD. and then, I wanted to do it more!
INTENTION. My intention changed. Once I realized that life is not ACTUALLY a to do list ( or an email inbox) I began to ACTUALLY live my life- from a wider more expansive- truly more loving place. MY to do list was a way to rush through my life, I was missing out on so much. Now, I allow myself the planning time and in fact it’s SUCH a big part of my life- and one of the things I LOVE most about life. dreaming, planning, creating, mapping out this weeks self care practices, journaling, nature walks, etc AND GUESS WHAT? I schedule in admin time for my family and my life and do it THEN! During my “family admin time” that’s when I fill out paper work, make doctors appointments, pay bills, whatever- but it is NOT ALLOWED to leak over into my REAL life ( reading, walking, moving, being with my kids and friends)
SPACE. And once THIS changed.. whoa- I found myself feeling like I Have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to really, truly do what I want! I found time to do some community service, found time to play a game, cook meals, write a book, take care of myself EVERY DAY. once I tightened up on the leaking of energy into all areas of my life- I realized that my planning time was actually creating HUGE SUSTAINABLE FLEXIBLE changes for the rest of my life. Now I feel like I am in the habit of doing what I need to no matter what happens in my schedule and my life TO ALIGN with my highest values- there is SO MUCH MORE JOY. EASE. BEAUTY. LOVE.
DOTHEWORK. Also, please note… I HAD TO THE DO WORK around WHAT ARE MY VALUES in order to align them! Again, taking time to talk about my values, to map out what I want to feel, to be, to do to journal and share with others and then I could feel how it was all connected.I really started to see the magic happen with living an awake life- with sacred ordinary living and the lists fell away- stopped being created.
BALANCE. I don’t believe in the balance bullshit. NO SUCH THING. we cannot have it all or BE IT ALL ( it’s not sustainable.our bodies. our emotions. our health. something will suffer) we HAVE TO MAKE CHOICES in our lives, ALIGNED WITH WHO WE ARE – to FEEL GREAT. We have to learn how to shift things on our VERY full plates when we add new things. WE CAN NOT KEEP ADDING without stepping back and looking at what needs to be de-cluttered- let go of- and released. We live in a time where illusions of other people’s happiness and joy lead to us feeling like crap…less then, never enough AND we compare, we keep going and doing and it does not feel like good. It’s sad b/c we look around and think- well, she is doing it! what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do it all? little do we know- that “superwoman” also has a sadness, a yearning, a desire and thinks “IS THIS ALL?”
FEAR. It’s TOTALLY part of the process. If you are experiencing tension right now on this issue ( feeling OVERWHELMED or STRESSED by your life) step back and let something go- even if it’s hard. say no. cancel. THIS IS THE MOMENT of truth. Here is your opportunity for greatness. You are being called to shift, adjust the sails. And instead of wasting the time you get back on netflix or shopping- go actually do something that will fill your soul. or do nothing. get in the habit of DOING NOTHING and see what arises. grab a journal and write down some dreams you have for life- no matter how crazy or unrealistic. not something that you can’t ACTUALLY do tomorrow on a list. STRETCH YOURSELF.
StartTODAY! Put the things at the top of your list as your HIGHEST priority. HYDRATE. MOVE. Meditate. Journal. Dream. Make healthy food. whatever it is… make room today- then see what mundane things fall away. I noticed that when I REALLY lived from a place of my own soul- so many non important things FELL AWAY. I did not actually need to get them done TODAY nor where they helping me feel connected to my work, my life, my children. The more you do this- the more amazing you will feel. ( also, I noticed that SO MANY areas got simplified without me even trying. I stopped comparing myself to other mamas or biz owners, I started TRULY engaging in my strengths in the world and feeling ALIVE in my body, not just my mind.. and whenever I go back to feeling
Does this seem WAY TOO hard for you? read essentialism
Okay love, I know there is a LOT to think about here- and I’m still in the process of unpacking it for you. I truly want to hear from YOU about what this brings up in your heart, in your mind, in your soul. WITH LOVE- P.