Try a to-don't list
I love a to-do list. I know I’m not alone in that. I love being organized and on top of my game. It provides me a ridiculous amount of pleasure knowing that I’m doing what I say I’m going to do. No matter how grand or trivial. It just feels good.
A few months back I told my therapist I had made a massive to-do list because I was feeling wonky. That was the actual word I used. Wonky. It covers a lot of bases, but in that moment wonky’s closest synonyms were likely confused, overwhelmed, and lost.
So my therapist, being the brilliant human she is, said to me, “Amy, I don’t think what you need is a to-do list. Why don’t you try a to-don’t list?”
A to-don’t list.
It’s easier for us to attempt to get out of our own way by adding things we need to do in order to make our lives more, well, orderly. Or more salient. Better. It’s a lot harder to figure out what we need to stop doing.
My to-don’t list is several pages long. I do not succeed at all of it even a fraction of the time, but I’m working on fixing that.
Here are some examples from my list:
The list literally goes on. It was challenging to start but once I got going, oh man, did I get going.
These are not dogmatic. They’re reminders. Life is more than a to-do list. And it's more than a to-don't list, but a gentle nudge saying, "Hey, remember what we're working on here," can go a long way for all of us.
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