I am Queen of the “To Do” lists—according to my chagrined hubby. To be fair, I make more lists for myself than as I do for him. Goose for the gander? Sometimes it takes us more than a week to check off our respective lists. But there’s something smugly rewarding about completing tasks that range from vital to procrastinated.
Years ago, inspired by such feel-good rewards, I thought it would be fun for the family to write down resolutions for the New Year and seal them in an envelope to be opened a year later on New Year’s Eve. Fun to encourage long term goals and celebrate accomplishments, right? Not so much. The years I actually remembered where I hid the sealed envelopes, I regretted opening mine. No weight was lost, no book written, even reading a book a month often came up short. I was lucky to count a finished quilt or completed project among my annual achievements, and ripping my list in tiny pieces with an inappropriate expletive destroyed any illusion of new-found serenity and patience. Where did the year go? And what did I accomplish in all that time?
Nobody else gloated over their annual “achievements” —or wanted to share their defeats. My ‘fun idea’ belonged in a circular file, unworthy of any celebration. But losers do love company. When I polled close friends, fishing for similar resolution failures, losing weight seemed to top lists, along with giving up bad habits like smoking, cussing, drinking too often, working too hard. Fixing relationships also got a few hits. Vowing to get along with obnoxious co-workers and weird family members, learning to pick more insightful battles with your kids, paying more attention to spouses—all were resolution biggies—most with checkered success among those polled.
I decided less personal goals—more like hopes and wishes—really didn’t meet the criteria for resolutions. Over-the-top wishes like ideal vacations or new home or cars were easier to check off and, as we aged, evolved more into bucket lists. Resolutions have become archaic in our family. Even outside the family, nobody I know even asks about New Year Resolutions anymore. The “To Do” list, and companion “Bucket list,” however, will always survive changing times and attitudes.
My favorite best-selling author, Diana Gabaldon, keeps a ledger with daily “To Dos.” Her hubby suggested she keep a “To Don’t” list. I love the idea as much as D.G. did. But a negative list in the wrong hands could mean trouble unless you seal that list in an envelope and store it where nobody else could possibly read it. A mental list is safer for “don’ts” that could be misconstrued: “Don’t give your email address to relatives in retail or don’t talk Vikings with Packer fans, and don’t ever talk politics with right…or left wing friends. Danger may even lie in things you don’t want to share with your hubby...or your best bud. Don’t ask!
I made lists for hubby and me today—four days into 2016. Most items concern Christmas decorations, snow removal or feeding the winter wildlife outside. His list makes it easier for me to concentrate on MY LIST. With a published novel and a new story to be released Feb. 10th, I find the writing and marketing tasks have a never-ending spontaneous list that force daily, weekly, even annual check-offs. Anyone predicting an Evolution Revolution in 2016? Stay tuned.