Anyone who knows me, or who has been reading this blog for any length of time knows I love a good list. I enjoy writing out each task ahead of me (because, often enough, writing it down is the only way it gets done.) I especially love ticking off each task as I finish - what a sense of accomplishment. But, conversely, anytime I have items on my list that are not crossed out - and my very large daily to-do list generally has several items incomplete - I feel a sinking sense of failure. Not the way I want to live my life.
Last night I was, yet again, trying to make my way through "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. It has been on my to-read list for years - I'm told it will help me out along my spiritual journey, which is still very much a part of me.
I am just not getting into it.
There is a lot going on right now. I'm working on getting a new job. My sister's wedding is next week. I am waaaaay overextended, volunteer-wise. I am concerned about my own health - not because I feel particularly bad, but because I am going on 14 years with this extra weight, and it is not helping me out. Our insurance plan is changing, and not for the better. The credit card debt has grown, rather than shrunk. My house is a regular mess! And there is all the good, parenting, wifey-type stuff we all deal with. Honestly, reading a book I really don't care about is not high on my list of priorities. So, I think to myself last night, I'll go through my to-read list and get rid of all the books I think I should read, but don't really want to. That will happily clear up some time and make me a bit happier.
But what about the rest of the lists? I usually try to take 5 minutes each day to read an entry from Leo Babauta's blog, Zen Habits. I, personally, find his blog to be helpful in a calming, let it go and chill out, kind of way, (even if I find his writing personality to be kind of self-righteous. Sorry, Leo. He's probably not that way in real life. And honestly, maybe he deserves to be - he has a buttload of kids, he moved here from another country, quit smoking, started running, wrote a few books...he's accomplished quite a lot.) Anyway, one of the things they talk about at Zen Habits is cutting down the to-do list to just a few, most important tasks so it's manageable. A lot of simplicity gurus tout that, but this is the one I read. Anyway, I decided that I'm going to take that advice to heart, not only with my daily to-do lists, but with my Before I'm 40 Bucket list - that list is supposed to be all about fun, and it has become a, "oh no, I'm halfway there, and I've accomplished 3 items" stress. So here we go:
1. Travel outside the country - crossing out. I would like to travel, anywhere, but I will be just as happy traveling around the U.S. And if I get to go somewhere else...hey. It's just cake.
2. Figure out what I'm going to be when I grow up - crossing out. I'm a woman, a mom, a wife. Right now, I just need a job. I don't know, maybe I'm just not a career kind of gal. Maybe I'll write my first novel. Who knows - I don't, and I'm not going to stress about it.
3. Number 2 is related to number 7 or 8 which is "finish degree." And that just isn't going to happen. Because my kids get to go to college first. It is possible I won't ever get to go back, which doesn't mean I won't continue to learn. It will just have to be in a non-classroom environment. And I can live with that.
4. Which leads me to "learn to speak another language, fluently." I think I'll keep that one. It's something to "learn", and I've always loved languages. Quite frankly, I have a good start on Spanish - I should just keep going.
5. Reach healthy weight and stay there. I'm amending this one to, "establish regular exercize and healthy eating habits." The weight loss with follow, and I need to focus on my health, plus provide a good role model for my kids, which is why this one is, in part, staying.
6. Pay off the credit card debt and save something. This one is also staying - in fact, the healthy habits and credit card debt ones are the ones I will be working on first and foremost for the immediate future. That debt needs to go so we can send our kids to college, travel, retire someday...and let's face it. My pimpin' blue van is not going to last forever.
7. I'm getting rid of "read Brothers Karamazov." I may still read it, but it won't be soon.
The rest is traveling - and I'm condensing it. I will replace my old list with my new one, and add one more - chill out and be happy.
Are you finding your lists stress you out? Have you examined your goals recently? Maybe they need a bit of tweaking?