I love lists. Top ten lists, summer book lists, grocery lists, to-do lists, I love them all. Both in my professional and personal lives you can find either a digital or scribbled list somewhere in the vicinity. Sometimes I categorize them, other times I make headings, and if I come across a list in a book or magazine I am instantly riveted.
My love of lists even carries over into different seasons. For example, at the start of every summer, I make a summer bucket list; I think about all of the things that I want to accomplish in the next two months of my life and I write them down as a visual reminder of these tasks.
This summer started no differently: I began making my to-do lists. Books to read, closets to organize, movies to catch up on, people to catch up with, painting or renovation projects to complete, trips to take, yard work to do, appointments to attend, cleaning to finish, and on and on. I got to the list of books I need to read this summer and suddenly I stopped short and stared at the (wonderful) list of books that I have been anticipating reading for months. Seeing them staring back at me in to-do form I suddenly found myself feeling that this was just another to-do list.
How could this be? I love lists!! I reminded myself that this was a "bucket list" and lists of this kind are aspirational in nature. Despite this attempted self-reassurance I couldn't shake the feeling that I was turning my favourite hobbies into things I "have" to do, and my summer into two months of people pleasing and obligation filling.
Looking at that list, I began to feel anxiety and I questioned why I feel the need to make to a summer bucket list. At the risk of this post turning into a psychoanalysis of my need to appear organized and please as many people as possible, I will stop there. Suffice it day, I have issues.
Here is what I realized. I spend ten months of the year yearning for summer. I count days, stare out windows, and curse the snow for TEN months of the year and instead of enjoying the two months of bliss that summer gifts me I am writing to-do lists and judging myself for not completing them. Because let's face it, the list is never complete.
As a result of all of this introspection, I have decided to change my behaviour as of today. I have made a vow to myself to tear up all to-do lists, all bucket lists, and all pieces of paper with the potential to guilt trip me. I am setting myself free.
Instead of making to-do lists, I'm going to get my butt outside and do the things I want to do without a piece of paper telling me I should be doing it. If I feel productive, great. If I choose to engage in an unproductive activity, so be it. I refuse to let my list of "have-tos" dictate my time, and I absolutely refuse to look back two months from now and feel guilty over uncompleted tasks.
I am going to enjoy these next two months completely list-less and completely guilt-less.
Who is with me?