Making Lists

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I’ve always loved lists. They help me remember errands and purchases I need to make. There’s a certain satisfaction in making lists of the most mundane tasks and ticking off each one at its completion.

Then there are the internal lists, the shoulds and shouldn’ts we have floating around in our psyches. You have them. We all do. Some you put there yourself, but most of the time, they were started by our parents, our schools, the culture in which we grew up. They gnaw at us, pester us from deep within, creating a distinct sense of unease. Am I doing the right thing? Am I reaching my potential? Am I failing to do something I should be doing? Often, the tension is there but ill-defined.

There’s a positive function to that internal set of lists. No doubt, some of our best behaviour is a result of the list of do’s and don’ts perpetuating within us from early childhood. However, it’s also necessary to dig those lists up now and then and check them. Check them twice. Find out if they’re naughty or nice. Do they ripple out of your head as judgement and denigration? Or do they inspire?

Scratch everything off of those lists that feels like a personal putdown – anything that tells you that you can’t, that you’re not capable. Better yet, create a new list and throw out the dysfunctional ones. Read inspiring books and jot down on your list the words of others that uplift and challenge you in positive ways. Now type up that list and post it somewhere you’ll see it every day.

Read it often and imprint it on your mind. Live by it. The best lists don’t involve any scratching off of items, because they are things you’ll want to do each day for the rest of your life.

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