A Birthday List…and a Life List

*Image from Anthropologie

Wednesday was my birthday and I celebrated by going to physical therapy and laying on the couch in a pain med-induced stupor. My sweet lawyer husband, who is recovering from oral surgery, kept me company. So did daughter Four, Halle, who was up most of the night before with a bad tummy ache. We were not a very celebratory threesome. That’s okay because some birthdays are just like that.

I decided, though, that the events surrounding this particular birthday are not a harbinger of things to come. In fact, I’m feeling quite optimistic about this new year. So optimistic, that I am even making lists…something I have not done for a while.

Back in the day, I was a very faithful list maker. I made to-do lists, goal lists, chore lists, grocery lists, wish lists, name lists, friend lists, vacation lists, packing lists, and even lists of lists. But my lists and I had a love-hate relationship in that I loved making lists, but I hated feeling controlled by them. I know it doesn’t make sense to feel controlled by a list that you make, but I did. So I quit making lists…kind of.

Sometimes, when there was a change in the date, like January 1 or a change in the season, like summer to fall, or a change in my life, like graduating from college or having babies, then I would embark on another round of list-making. I think compartmentalizing my life into organized lists helped me feel more in control when my life felt a bit out of control.

However, I usually gave up the lists because I would feel discouraged about the things on my list that were never getting crossed off. I tried different list approaches, like prioritizing or making lists of things that I did get done instead of things I wanted to get done. It helped, but didn’t last.

Lately, though, I’ve ran across a few lists on different blogs, and I’m getting the itch to make a list…or two. I need more focus in my life and more focus in how I am using my time. The beginning of a new year of life seems like the perfect time to find some focus and make a list, so today I have been making some lists. I’m working on two lists: the first list will celebrate things that I have accomplished in the first half of my life (at 44 I think I’m about halfway through life), and then include a list of the things I want to do in the second half of my life. I love this kind of list because I can write anything I want, no matter how unrealistic it might seem at the time. Really!

The second list will be a list of things that I want to accomplish in the next year…a more practical list, but hopefully I will get to cross off one or two things on the first list or at least get a start on them

I’m going to share the list because I am much more likely to work on my list when I know that someone else knows about it. Even if you are reading my blog in Russia or Indonesia or Canada and we never meet, I know I am accountable to you if we do meet and you ask “How are you doing on that list?” That motivates me. I learned this little trick the first time Joe and I trained for a marathon. One of the first steps in our training program was sign up for a marathon and then tell everyone we know that we were going to run it. So we did, sign up and tell everyone, and we did, run the marathon. It really works…I am living proof.

Do you make lists? Do you follow your lists? Do lists give you focus? Do lists make your life better?

I would love to hear about some of your lists and your thoughts on lists. I’m hoping to establish a happy medium with my lists where instead of feeling controlled by my lists, I feel empowered by them.

If you are interested in making some lists, here are a few that inspired me:

-Allison’s Life List at Petit Elefant.
-Nicole’s 30 Before Thirty at Making it Lovely
-Laura’s 40 Before I’m 40 at Blog con Queso and an Update.


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