It's Not About the To Do List

Living life in fast forward mode means that truly important things don't happen. They get lost in the shuffle. So, what's missing for you? You know the answer better than anyone.
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The pace of today's world is greater than ever before. Sometimes it seems hopeless to try to keep up with it. The only way to stay sane is to write a To Do List each day and race to get as much of it done as you possibly can. You have no choice -- you're a responsible person, you have people who depend on you, so it all has to get done somehow.

Yet living life in fast forward mode means that truly important things don't happen. They get lost in the shuffle. So, what's missing for you? The unwritten novel? Regular trips to the gym? Quiet time for meditation and contemplation? Taking your daughter to the museum? Confronting the big issue at work? At home?

Tibetan teacher Sogyal Rinpoche clearly describes the issue:

"If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many
unimportant tasks, so called 'responsibilities' accumulate
to fill them up. One master compares them to 'housekeeping
in a dream.' We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the
important things of life, but there never is any time."

The Cost?

You know the answer better than anyone. The big dreams get buried, the needed changes don't happen, and disappointment lurks below the surface -- unseen, but still present as the precious days pass by in pursuit of your To Do List. If you're like me, what keeps you going is the certainty that some day their time will come.

No matter where you are in life (young or old, buff or unfit, starting out or nearing retirement), there is a cost, whether it's the unaddressed health issues, lifeless relationships, connections not made -- the list goes on.

Take just 60 seconds to think about those things you long to do -- someday. Grab a pad and at the top of the page write:

What would I do if I had enough time?

Start writing as fast as you can. Don't judge, don't edit, don't wordsmith, don't sensor -- just capture whatever comes into your head.

It's not about the To Do list

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to working too furiously in one area of my life while ignoring others. The cost is great, but there is an answer.

Choose one aspiration on your list and do just one little thing each day to start bringing it alive and moving it forward. Promise yourself you'll do it -- or better yet promise someone else that for the next week you're going to take a step a day, and then let them know whether you did it when you reach the end of the week.

I've been inspired this year by three people who are glowing because they are returning to their dreams and starting to tackle the issues, a step at a time. They are happy because they're doing the big stuff and discovering that the To Do List is getting done, even though it's moved to second place.

Here's the truth. Your To Do List is always going to get done because there's no way you're not going to do the shopping, the cooking, the work, the email, etc. Nothing stops you doing these things, does it?

I promise that it's possible for you to move the To Do List out of the driver's seat and begin to focus on the things you long to do.

Here's What To Do

  1. Choose one item from your "if I had time" list.
  2. Do just one little thing every day to get it moving.

Before long that dream will have a life of its own, and you couldn't stop if you wanted to. That's all there is to it -- as H. Jackson Brown told us decades ago:

"Don't let weeds grow around your dreams."

I would enjoy hearing how you're doing as you bring these dreams back to life. Either enter a comment below or email me at

For more by Jinny Ditzler , click here.

For more on making it a healthy new year, click here.