You, like many, have mastered the “To Do” list. Good for you, but I say – “So what?”
What really matters is your “To Be” list – and most don’t even have one.
Let me explain.
To Do lists are filled with task-driven chores. These are the ‘necessary evil’ of every day, week or week-end. They represent your conscious reminder of the myriad of chores, phone calls, errands, reports and expectations you shoulder at that particular moment in time.
To Do lists are heralded as “life savers” because they act as your insurance policy. Without them, you forget all kinds of expectations and responsibilities thus damaging your effectiveness and credibility.
Being somewhat of an absent minded professor myself – it is hard not to appreciate this thinking. I have been right there with you – I look at my list and let it lead me through the day by my nose.
Sure, you get the joy of scratching off each task after complete. That’s an enjoyable 1/2 second of your day! It also helps keep your nose above water during chaotic periods of life.
However – does it create the person or life you desire? I doubt it.
Enter stage right – Your To Be list!
This list represents what needs to be done to create the life and career you desire! The content of a To Be list are the building blocks for your Deliberate Journey.
There are extended benefits to this list. To name a few, the To Be list helps you:
- Create a desired personal and professional experience.
- Advance your ‘Happiness Agenda.’
- Move your career/business in the direction you desire.
- Put your priorities on the front burner (not waiting for a few scraps of your time at the end of a long week).
- Ensure 5 years of your life doesn’t fly by in a non-noteworthy, but busy blur.
- Force your 10 hour days to be directed toward a life that matters to you.
This is just a sample of the benefits a To Be list offers. I shouldn’t have to hammer this point home. If you are still on the fence, compare your current To Do List to the bullets above.
Don’t you want to trade “Pick up the dry cleaning” or “Submit travel expenses to accounting” for “Advance your Happiness Agenda“?
Do the Work:
To Be lists are not as easy to create as To Do Lists. It takes more time and effort. Let it be an iterative process – if you strive for ‘perfect’, you’ll never create a list.
- Start with 5 key categories of life: Personal, Professional, Spiritual, Physical and Well-Being.
- Try to draft 1 “To Be” for each (don’t get stuck – if you can only do 3 categories that’s a great start!)
- Put your newly drafted “To Be lists” in your calendar, on your desk, on the refrigerator and/or on your laptop. You need to see them repeatedly to stick them in your brain.
- Be sure 20% of every To Do list you create is advancing your To Be list. Yes, I confess – you are not going to get rid of your To Do list. Instead, you must ensure it advances your To Be agenda (versus adding tasks to your treadmill life).
- On a quarterly basis, review your To Be list and your progress toward it. Be sure the To Do’s haven’t taken over. Fight the default pressures of life and stay deliberate!
I know this is hard. It’s even harder if you’re mired in To Do’s and haven’t thought about To Be’s. Please don’t over complicate it. Just get started. You can change, edit, focus and improve later. Get a first draft and align 20+% of your To Do’s with it. You’ll be amazed.
Here are examples to prime your pump:
Professional – I plan to be in the job/role of ______ 2 moves from now.
Personal – Write down attributes, characteristics or traits you hope your kids to use in describing you some day. This is your To Be list to move toward.
Spiritual – I want To Be more knowledgable – I want to be able to discuss and debate my faith from a deeper theological perspective.
Physical – To Be healthy enough to not need the medication I take for ____.
Well-Being – I want To Be Content on a regular basis and not worried about the future.