I am one of life’s list makers. I love to see tasks laid out before me in written form; it gives me a sense of control. The buzz I get when I cross something off a list is genuinely a physical sensation. Like I’ve been dying for a drink all week and someone’s just handed me a perfectly chilled bottle of beer. Lists are apparent in all areas of my life. At work I make carefully categorized lists. On days off and holidays I list the things I want to ‘achieve’ (right down to ‘have a relaxing bath’). I have a list of restaurants in Bristol I want to visit. In my kitchen is a giant blackboard with a list of short and long term jobs that need doing in the house. Sounds mental doesn’t it? But I am not alone. Many list makers just like me are out there, their pockets full of four colour pens and their bookshelves bursting with beautiful notebooks, begging to be filled…
Is there anything wrong with it? Personally, I need lists to function, especially at work. If I don’t write it down it’s 99% certain that I’m going to forget all about it, which obviously will not do. Lists can help mange leisure time too and encourage us to get the most out of a period of time.
As a list lover, when New Year rolls around, my desperate, burning, innermost desire is to grab my favourite pen, a brand new notebook and begin to compile my epic tomb of ‘2017 Goals’. Here are some of the contenders for a spot on the great 2017 goals list:
- Eliminate all use of single use plastic
- Only buy organic fruit and veg
- Only buy local fruit and veg
- Only buy seasonal fruit and veg
- Run 3 times per week
- Do yoga 3 times per week
- Meditate every day
- Volunteer once per month
- Do all of my work on time and don’t leave things until the last minute
- Stop drinking on week nights
- Watch all the films on the top 100 movies of all time list
- Eat vegan Monday – Friday
- Only ever say nice things about people behind their backs
- Completely stop shopping in high street shops
- Only buy clothes in charity shops
- Reduce my caffeine intake by half
- Sign up to a 10K
- Read at least 5 classics that I haven’t read
- Clean my bathroom every week
- Stop eating all snack food
- Start saving
- Disconnect the internet after 8pm
- Turn my phone off in social situations
- Stop looking at social media first thing in the morning
- Learn to use my sewing machine
- Learn to play my guitar properly
- Sing more
- Be more active in my local community
- Read more about international politics
- Be less sensitive
- Eat more green veg
- Stop getting stressed about insignificant things
I could go on. There are so many things I need to do! So many things I need to stop doing! So many things that are wrong with me! I MUST CHANGE!!!
I’ve been plagued by the feeling that I ‘should’ be doing something for as long as I can remember. For some reason I feel, and have always felt, that I am in some way not complete, or good enough. This doesn’t come from my family, who have consistently told me the opposite. In part I think I have a bad relationship to thank. But the main culprit I suppose is the expectations I have of myself as prescribed by society. Consumerism dictates that the message drilled into us from birth is that there is always more. More happiness, more fitness, more beauty, more love, more stuff. We don’t have it all. We don’t have enough. Everything we do should be with the sole focus of achieving more and more of absolutely everything. It’s not enough to just go running because it makes us feel good. We have to aim for a goal – a distance, beating someone else, beating ourselves.
Sadly this destructive mindset has spilled over a little and got muddled up in my desire to live more ethically. I have this inner desperation to make a difference. I truly believe that my small actions and how I live does have an impact on the planet and it’s inhabitants. In itself I know that this is a good thing. But I’ve begun to panic and to punish myself for not doing enough. That word again.
So I’ve decided to resolve to make no resolutions as such. Much as it pains me deeply not to write a beautiful long list, I just don’t think that it’s the best thing for me this year. Instead I’m going to try to focus on being present. Being thankful for the things that are good about my life and the things that are good about me (eek). I’m not saying that I don’t want anything to change and develop over the next 12 months but I’m going to try to step back from the need to control them.
Challenges are inevitable, we don’t necessarily have to set them for ourselves – life is pretty good at providing them. Meanwhile, I have enough, I am enough. And that’s enough.