List-aholics; More on What Matters Most

Life marches on, and the longer I live, the more I want to resonate with what matters most.  It seems as I grow older (I’m well over 25), time compresses and every other day is a new month.  There are so many things we pay attention to that require our time.

I’m sure we all have release “interventions” (children, spouses, grandchildren, significant others, hobbies, vacations) that strongly suggest we reset our priorities, and thus reset our time; using it on things that matter most.   Sometimes we get into a tail spin and don’t know how to reset as we spin toward a crash landing.  In my aviation world it’s called “Augering in.”

I recently wrote a blog regarding valuing the “moments” of our lives… this blog is its cousin.

I remember sitting under a very large box elder tree in our pasture as a boy, playing for hours with match box toys- only the cows could interrupt me.  Time did not exist- there was sunrise, the day, and night time- whatever happened in between was not measured by “tasks” (except for a few chores).

One of the modern era’s great inventions is to create task or to do lists.  An entire culture was developed around it and still exists today.  It had potential to organize one’s life to allow for things that matter most.  I joined this culture to a point many years ago.  I make a “to do” list in most evenings, (I like to empty my head which doesn’t take too long in my case), and put before me that which I need to do.  It’s easy for me to be forgetful if I don’t write it down.  Some people categorize their lists by A, B or C to prioritize.  I’m a little different, “if it ain’t important it don’t make my list.” I happily check my items off the list as they are accomplished, and I do a little victory cheer when I’ve finished in the day what mattered most to me.

 The important lesson I would like to share is that the key to our daily walk is not in checking items off of the list, or even creating one- it is WHAT THE HECK IS ON THE LIST! 

Let me form the first addition recovery group for “List Makers.”  All together now “Hi, my name is Steve, I make a list of things to do every day.  I’m a listaholic.”  Following the standard twelve step recovery process, here are suggested steps to recovery:

1. We admit our lives have become powerless in trying to overcome to do lists by ourselves.

  • The list can be all powerful, to the exclusion of natural life events.  Can you take time away from the norm to enjoy what matters most at the moment- or is accomplishing the list most important?

2. We seek a power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity.

  • You choose of course what or who this may be, the point is, we need to open up about our addiction to lists.

3. We turn our will over to the powerful “to do” list God’s.

  • This is the process of admitting that we have a problem and we need outside help.  If you carry a planner under your arm all day and mark it every hour to check my list or re-vamp it, you may be a list addict.

4. Make a fearless inventory of what constitutes “the list.”

  • Do we put things on the list that are sort of meaningless, but they make us feel important to keep the list and check it off?  Start to review the items on the list to see if they bring progress, improvement, and value to not just things, but to relationships.

5. Admit to the higher list power and ourselves and to one other person the exact nature of our ridiculous list addiction.

  • This is a part of any twelve step program; it can be as simple as telling a friend who walks into your office (and as you reach for your planner to see if you have any free time) that “hey, I’ve got a list problem, have a seat and let’s chat.”

6. We must admit we are ready to have all useless lists removed from our character.

  •  I have gone from full planner activity to keeping a 3 x 5 card in my pocket.  I will jot down an impression or note on the card- but I’ve weaned myself from the constant planner.  I allow life to happen more now, and though I’m goal oriented, I’m not governed by my list.

7. Humbly seek help from the healer of the list-aholic.

  • Again, we always overcome addictions better with help from another.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed due to the ridiculous pressure we put on ourselves and those around us to get everything on our lists done.

  • Ouch—this could hurt.  It may only take a few minutes to put a grandchild on your lap when you are busy, but taking the time from the planned schedule is often what matters most.  My list was long when I started my recovery, but each day it gets shorter.

9. Make direct amends to those we have injured as a result of our lists.

  • You know, it doesn’t take much time to say to a daughter; “Hey, I’ve been way too busy with my “to do” list the past few years- I am sorry I have neglected my time with you and I regret it- let’s go to lunch.”

10. Continue to make an inventory of our lists to determine their value and be prepared to promptly admit failure.

  • If our lists are mostly guided by outside influences; we need to evaluate why.  Are our daily actions governed by fear?  Take control of your life by taking control of your list.

11. Meditate to seek the continuous help we need.

  • There is nothing like a little daily devotional to adjust the sails.  Take a little time for this.

12. Enjoy the positive effects of list inventories daily.

  • It’s a great feeling to know you’re able to make adjustments in the “plan” to take time for the most meaningful.

I’ve included a couple of pictures with subtitles to illustrate the wonderful things that can happen when we allow the lists we create to guide us, rather than control us.

sand time

I took unplanned time on a Saturday to play with my grandson in the park.  He laughed as he dumped sand on his puppies head.  The puppy loved it!  My sacrifice, I delayed my review of weekly reports.

tool bench

My son and daughter-in-law bought their first house a few months ago, but he had never set up his garage.  We got his workbench in with a few tools and he’s now set to complete his honey-do list!  This was totally spur of the moment and not a part of any list.  This was a joyful release.

Thanks for being my support group.  I hope you can relate.  Here’s to harkening back to moments in our lives that were not governed by time constraints and lists.  Here’s to living IN the moment.  Here’s to our complete recovery!