A “To Do” List for Your Life
Ah, the “To Do” list—an unfortunate, but entirely necessary, feature of life. Mocking you with its outline
of your failures, it can become a daily reminder of your inadequacy. (After all, what is worse than
transferring old tasks to a fresh list?) On the other hand, it can inspire great productivity. Keeping you to
task, a list can help you focus and build momentum. And, there is nothing like that blissful moment when
you are finally able to cross off the last of your responsibilities.
Some busy days, it is the tool that prevents your head from falling off. Other days, it is a great
distraction from the real tasks that lay ahead. Many people swear by it as the ultimate in organization tools.
Others loathe turning their life’s goals into a litany of tasks. If you are a member of this second group—the
loathers—take heart. There is a list that you will love: The List!
The List contains all your daydreams and life wishes—it is your “fantastic imaginings” list. A list
of this kind can be very empowering. It provides an opportunity for you to be selfish and focus on your
wants, goals, and desires. Writing down your wish list can help you discover what it is you want out of
life. Taking the time to articulate your goals increases the probability that you’ll achieve them.
So take a break from your ordinary “to dos”—“do chores; finish homework, schedule counseling
appointment.” Instead, find a block of time when you can sit in a cozy chair with your cup of coffee, grab a
pen and paper (the nicer the better), and write “The List.” Here are the rules:
Use a pen! A permanent wish list provides the impetus for action.
The list cannot include a single mundane task.
The sky’s the limit.
Don’t let anyone else influence your list.
Mix attainable goals (learn to golf) in with those that you’d like to attain, but may not likely happen in the
immediate future for a variety of reasons (go to Yale, make a million dollars).
Include behavioral goals (quit smoking, stop interrupting people when they’re talking) among the more task-
oriented ones (assemble a photo album of your life).
Once you’ve written your list, put it in a safe, secret place. Don’t drive yourself crazy looking at it
everyday. Pull it out when the mood strikes you. It can help keep you grounded and provide some much-
needed perspective during times of stress. Looking at your list after some time has elapsed can show you
how you’ve evolved and if your goals have shifted.
HERE’S A SAMPLE LIST:
Master another language Win a Halloween costume contest
Run a marathon Cook Thanksgiving dinner
Complete the crossword puzzle (without Plant and tend a garden
using any reference materials!) Go to a concert
Learn an instrument Make amends to someone I’ve harmed
Teach a child how to throw a ball Fly a kite
Attend an opera Scuba dive
Learn how to surf Volunteer on a holiday
Go skydiving Spend one afternoon a month hanging out
Build a sand castle with my mom or dad
Learn to juggle Do all my homework every night
Do one nice thing for someone every day Get involved in a club or sport in school
without letting anyone know I did it this year
Swim with dolphins
Read the bible