Why You Can’t Get Attached to Your To-Do List
Are you fool enough to think you can plan your life?
Do you make to-do lists, and deceive yourself into believing you will check off all the items?
Ben Franklin resounds in my head: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Being responsible and trying to “get ‘er done” attracts other people to me that also want to “get ‘er done”. My house resembles a help centre minus the volunteers.
My family must see a sign on my door that says:
If you need anything, ask me! Services are free and confidential. Walk-ins are welcome.
Helping my family takes a front seat to my to-do list. When I check one item off, another one appears in its’ place. Then my list morphs into the “What is Actually Going to Happen List” list from the universe.
I try to be open to the natural flow of life, knowing I will never get everything done, but the act of making a list reduces my stress, calms me, and offers the illusion that I am in control.
Without a list to hold me accountable, I feel like a sheet twisting in the wind on the clothesline. My list is my clothes-pin, keeping me from blowing away when my life hurls forward, then jerks to a stop and takes a dip and a dive, and I must adapt to wherever it takes me.
On a recent to-do list the first item was:
1) “Fix Printer.”
My printer broke, and after 6 hours of trying to fix it, nothing worked. My son needed to print out his visa application for Germany that day. No pressure. I finally got frustrated and shut off the printer. Then it booted back up by itself and was working perfectly. Fix printer. Check.
The second item was:
2) “Get ceramic tile installed.”
Sounds like a quick list item, but it had a ripple effect. The floor tile installer removed my toilet and shut off the water in the bathroom and kitchen. He told me to make “other” arrangements to use the bathroom for a few days. That’s why someone woke up at 2 am desperate to go pee and filled the empty Starbucks cup on the table. (Honest, I don’t know who). Who would do something so gross while half asleep? Thank God I remembered in the morning and didn’t drink out of it.
Here’s one example of the list The Universe wrote for me:
2a) Help a puppy.
I was awoken at 6 am to the neighbour’s pit bull puppy howling as usual. I got up and sleepily tried to find a working bathroom when the puppy’s bark sounded closer than usual. Yup, he was in my yard, and under my son’s truck (the son in Germany). His leash was pinned under the front tire. I knelt down beside the pup to undo it, and he was so happy to be rescued, he clawed his way up my arms. With my pants soaked in mud, I gave up on the leash, left it under the tire, unhooked his collar and took him to his house next door. There, his dubious owner was pushing a small motorcycle through his front door. Not kidding! Crime in progress aside, I simply stretched out my scratched, and now bleeding arms and offer him his dog. I told him I would return his leash if I could borrow his hose to wash myself off.
I am back home adding “fix gate latch so puppy can’t get in the yard” to my list, when I hear sirens next door.
My to-do list from the universe requires urgent attention, and my important list items have to wait. But a puppy in need is more important than my important list items.
I can prioritize all I want, but I have learned to not get too attached to checking off my to-do list. I get swooped up and hurled in an unexpected direction each day, and that is called LIFE.
In the end, I can help my family, feel in control by making a list and checking off a few items, and pay attention when life orders me to:
“Drop everything and do this instead.”
Life is not a rehearsing a script, but preparing yourself for the moment that you will be thrown on stage to do improv.
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