Make a To-Don’t Do List
It seems a lot of us here are fairly goal-oriented. A journey sort of mindset implies goal setting, which I’m all about—but when there’s a constant focus on goals, we unintentionally orient our daily life as a series tasks.
We become task-oriented instead of relationship-oriented, and we end up equating a “good day” with whether we get a lot done.
I like to-do lists, and I like checking things off (and of course I add something after I’ve done it just so I can check it off). But the issue arises when I focus too much energy and efforts toward my to-dos, because you know as well as me that I rarely cross off an entire day’s list.
Does an unfinished to-do list make a bad day? Of course not. You could adjust your sails and scribble out a list of things you don’t plan on doing—and cross those things off when you succeed in not doing them.
A to-don’t do list.
Maybe your not doing them could equal a productive, thoughtful day.
I’ve decided I need to do this more often, to notice what I’m intentionally not doing just as much as what I’m getting done. I’m going to make a to-don’t list more often.
Here’s part of my current to-don’t list:
• Don’t tackle larger house projects right now
• Don’t worry about spring gardening
• Don’t set aside money for next Christmas
• Don’t be on a Whole 30
• Don’t stay up too late
• Don’t wake up too early
• Don’t sign up for a local farm co-op
• Don’t get involved in a homeschool co-op
• Don’t sign up the kids for spring sports
• Don’t empty my email inbox
• Don’t say yes to the thousand (well-meaning) requests sitting in my inbox
• Don’t try to understand the latest social media trend
• Don’t plan anything for Valentine’s Day, even though it’s coming up
• Don’t work at night
• Don’t do everything I could do to promote my book
• Don’t keep Facebook or Twitter open when I work on projects
• Don’t feel guilty about my daughter not having a birthday party this year
• Don’t volunteer at church
• Don’t get involved in a book club
And here’s the funny thing in publishing this—my knee-jerk reaction is to justify a few of these to you. I want to explain to you why we’re not doing a farm co-op right now, or that we DO do some of these things sometimes. I want to make sure you know I do stuff. Which is completely ridiculous.
We get so wrapped up about Getting Stuff Done, or about defining our value in our accomplishments, our busyness. But is that really what life’s all about? Crossing off a to-do list isn’t a bad thing, but this isn’t the core of our life’s meaning, what really makes up the purpose of our days.
Notice what you don’t want to accomplish, just as much as you do. And if it’s hard for you to even think of what you don’t want to do, ask yourself if you’re trying to do too much—or, at least feel like you’re supposed to do more than what you are.
Because it’s perfectly okay—no, it’s AWESOMELY okay—that you don’t do stuff. Really.
Slow down and smell the roses, and if you’re too busy to get a whiff, it’s time to make a to-don’t list.
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