Monday, January 20, 2014

To-Do Lists, Self-Loathing, and other Misadventures.

I am a list person. Unless I have a clear set of rules telling me exactly what to do, I'm likely to spend a few hours on facebook, tumblr and buzzfeed before I get a hold of myself, but by that time it may already be too late.

While browsing the interconnected webs, I stumbled upon THIS beautiful piece of history:

Yes, that is Benjamin Franklin's to do list. That man seemed like he really had it together.

This is currently MY to do list:

- Shower
- Try not to hyperventilate from all of the work piling up
- Take down Christmas decorations (?)

I may not have it as together as Benjamin Franklin.

That being said, I've been wondering a lot about lists lately. My to-do lists, these pieces of paper I essentially base all of my productivity around, also define my daily sense of self-worth. Sometimes, I'll write an extra long to do list with lots of chores, errands and tasks, some difficult and some tedious, just because I want to feel like superwoman when I check that last thing off. 

But so often, I fall short of that goal I've set for myself, and subsequently fall into this silly little pit of self pity and loathing.

Is it human nature to set unrealistic goals for oneself, or is it just me? I'm wondering if some sort of self-sabotage is at work here. Are my to-do lists counter-productive? Am I deliberately trying to make myself unhappy?

It's possible that I'm weird and neurotic and I'm totally alone in this (in which case....oops,) but I've realized lately that if I'm not hating myself (hate is a strong word here - maybe something like "self-disappointment" is more apt?) I feel as though something is wrong. I worry so much about growing complacent and falling into the overwhelmingly gray sea that is normalcy and average-ness. Out of this fear comes the to-do list, an ever-present reminder that I need to do more, be more, see more.  But frankly? I'm tired, and beginning to realize that I'm allowed to be content with where I'm at. 

Contentment and complacency are not the same thing. 

I believe in striving to be the best you can be. I believe in productivity, in adventures, in success. I want to accomplish some pretty ambitious things in my life time - but I'm sure there is a way for me to do this without driving myself completely insane.  I want to be happy with where I am while still having a clear idea of where I'm going. I'm still searching for a good way to do this, and I'm curious if you have any ideas.

Are you a list-maker? Does any small part of you feel the same way I do? 

Leave some discussion in the comments - I'd love to feel just a little bit less crazy! 


Whitney Alison said...

I've become a list maker. I've realized, at 28, that my ADD self needs guidance in the form of daily task lists. I have to agree with you though. Contentment doesn't equal complacency. It's fine to be happy where you are at any given moment.

Sweet Love and Ginger said...

I was a born list maker. I make a list of todos for both work and home every single day. The thing is that I don't always expect to get everything on that list done. Maybe I started the alundry and never finished it, the dishes will still be there tomorrow. It's cool, Ill get there, and I still checked something else off the list, so it's a win. As long the list doesnt take over you life, i don't think its a bad thing.

Samantha Heather said...

I too am one who strives to achieve goals and succeed. To-do lists, bucket lists, shopping lists - I love checking things off. It makes me feel accomplished.

What I have realised though is that I am not defined by these lists. Achieving a goal is a great thing but that doesn't make me a great person. See the difference?
While this is a lesson I am still learning, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I can't accomplish everything (as much as I want to) and that's not a bad thing, its just a human thing. Setting goals is a great way to move forward and find contentment (not worth).

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

gladley said...

There's a balance to strike between constant striving and contentment.

I still find myself wondering about my competency when I don't get to strike everything off my to-do list. But I have to remind myself that it is totally ok, and as long as I'm always striving to be better and not beating myself up about it, then that's a success for me.

So lately I've been writing status reports next to my tasks, so I know I've achieved something, even if I can't quite strike them off my list yet.


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