What's On Your "Not-To-Do" List?

When I was a kid, I had so many goals. 


I wanted to write books. I wanted to be a vet. I wanted to travel the world.


I have officially participated in all of those goals now. (I mean, can you ever actually be done traveling the world? And there are always more books to write!)


But the path to completion wasn’t necessarily smooth. 


At the beginning of this year (before COVID even hit), I was in a mastermind meeting with my coach. One of our goals was to clarify some of the things we wanted to work on or accomplish during the course of the year long program.


When it was my turn, I listed my main things. I wanted to heal my body (it’s improving!). I wanted to hold my first Happy Vet retreat (it’s now going to be virtual, thanks COVID, and will be announced in the next couple of months!). I wanted to manage my stress better (meditation and gratitude, anyone?). And I wanted to improve our finances (I’m a spender…). 


But where my fellow mastermind members really quizzed me was on the things that I wanted to do that I HADN’T put on that list.


Unfortunately/fortunately, several of the people in this group have known me for several years.


“Jenny, what about your writing?” one person asked me. “I know you’ve been wanting to pick that back up for several years. Why isn’t that on your list?”


My answer was simple: I was too overwhelmed by life at the time to try to add that back onto my list of goals. I would add it on when I “had more time.”


Fast forward 10 months. In the last week, I’ve picked it back up. I’ve written well over 10,000 words so far on a document for which the idea didn’t even exist a week ago.


And guess what? 


I’m freaking loving it! I am filled with giddyness and joy every time I dig out my computer to work on my story more. I hurry through the things I HAVE to do so I can get back to what I WANT to do. 


First question for you- what things make you feel like this? And when was the last time you did those things?


I started thinking- what had taken me so long? Why did I wait so long to get back into writing, if it brings me this much joy?


The answer: I didn’t have time.


Except, I did. I had the same number of hours and days then that I have now. The exact same number.


In fact, as you know, we all have the same number. Every single person you admire has the same number of hours in the day as you do.


So what’s the difference?


I finally stopped doing things that were no longer aligned with who I am.


That’s it.


For most of us, we make to-do lists. And we fill those lists up with all the things we feel like we need to do. 


When was the last time you looked at that list to see what things on it were things you actually HAD to do or actually WANTED to do? Or how much of that list was just things you thought you SHOULD do?


I moved the “shoulds” over to a “Not-to-do” list. 


If I HAD to do it, then I’d ask myself, really? Does it truly have to be done, or do I just feel like it has to be done? Will it matter in 5 years? Or even tomorrow? And if it does have to be done, does it have to be done by ME?


Approximately 80% of the things on that list fell into the category of “Won’t really make a difference, won’t get me closer to where I want to go, and don’t have to actually be done by me.”


In other words, 80% of those items were busy work, things that kept me always moving and busy, but not getting any closer to my goals.


When I cut all of those out, suddenly I had more time. 


And now I can write again. I can do my yoga again. 


The reality is that I’m now working more hours than I used to in my new position, yet I still am finding MORE time in my day because I put the things on my not-to-do list.


So… what can you put on your not-to-do list? 


What things do you really WANT to do that you don’t have time for because you’re filling your days with things that you don’t actually NEED to be doing? And how many of those can you cross off your list? 


Creating a not-to-do list created so much clarity and freedom for me. What will you put on yours?

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