Tis the Season to Audaciously Cross Things OFF the Way Too Long “To Do” List. “Get to Do” is the New “To Do”
Step 1: Take out the To Do List
Step 2: Take a big breath and start crossing things off.
“I can’t do that!!” you might be thinking. Let me convince you: Your TO DO List is likely a key factor in your not getting to enjoy the season nearly as much as you could be. The list is long. It’s overwhelming. It’s full of unrealistic expectations. It’s in your thoughts so much that when you are doing something you enjoy, you’re thinking of the TO DO List.
So let’s turn that TO DO list into an “I GET TO DO” list.
Step 3: Across the top of the TO DO List, write: How can I make this simpler? Heck, how can I make this fun?
Step 4: Cross things off the list – pretend you are an editor who must trim a 500 word article to 50 words.. Your list will start to look like this:
TIPS for CROSS OFFS:
The Baking List: Cross off all but 3 or 4 favourites. Cross off everything that’s complicated to cook. If tradition has you building a gingerbread house that gets thrown away at the end of the season, cross it off. Will it still be Christmas without Russian Teacakes or fudge that you burn three times before it turns out right? Yes.
Kids’ Gift List: Still trying to balance the number and value of gifts for your kids? Stop. You know you love them equally. “Balancing” just costs you more and more money. If the list is already way out of balance – so much so that one child will be sure you don’t love them at all – cross the extra gifts off the list. Put them away for a birthday or return them after Christmas. A tip to simplify gift giving for kids: Give them one thing they think they want, one thing you know they would like, a book, and if you love board games or movies, add that. This could be the year that you’ve decided to reduce ‘stuff’ to help the environment. Your kids might.. maybe.. buy into that, especially if ‘experiences’ like movies or skiing become a part of the gift giving tradition.
Gift list that has you going to 12 different stores: Pick a theme like ‘books’ and spend a relaxing afternoon in the book store choosing a special book, magazine or journal for in-laws, parents, siblings and friends. Or buy them movie passes… (we’re leading up to something here.)
Christmas Dinner: Can you break tradition and make it simpler? Premake side dishes? Have others bring a side dish? One year, most of the family was out of town, and just my two daughters and I were going to be having Christmas together. They told me not to plan dinner. They had a surprise, they said. Do you know how hard that was? What? No Turkey? No preplanning all that goes into Turkey dinner? The surprise was that they had planned to cook us a Persian dinner! I hadn’t had persian food since I’d lived in Iran when I was in my 20’s… it was such a thoughtful and delicious present. And look, here I am talking about the Persian dinner and not about all the other 50+ turkey dinners. We survived (thrived) doing Christmas dinner differently. So can you.
Events: What events on the list make you smile and what ones feel like pressure? Try really really hard to cross off the pressure events. They might be events you ‘should’ attend, but remember you are trying to reduce the overwhelm. Once you are done with all of the cross off’s, you might actually have time to do the things you’d adore doing. Your list might start to look like this:
- More story times with the kids.
- Read a book.
- Sit by the fire and do nothing.
- Go Tobogganing.
If New Year’s Eve is more of an ordeal than a pleasure for you, do this:
Once you’ve gotten through the Christmas Season, you can practise the art of “I GET TO DO” even more.
Do you keep repeating New Year’s Resolutions each year because you never actually do them? Diet, go to the gym, spend more time with hubby/wife, visit relatives more, start and finish the book you’ve always wanted to write, get a new job? Cross ALL of them off the list. ALL. Create an “I GET TO DO” list of things that you’d love to do and that are do-able.
I get to: go Hiking, take bollywood dancing, go to movies, play board games. Notice how doing those things will actually lead to goals of getting fit, spending time with hubby, and you can invite the relatives to join you for board game nights. Perhaps they’ll invite you to the movies with the passes you gave at Christmas!
I get to: “Write for 5 minutes 3 times a week.” It may seem your book will never get done at that rate but taking tiny, almost infinitesimal, steps is a sure cure past procrastination, overwhelm and perfectionism that prevents you from even showing up to the page. The tiny step philosophy works for all those big goals you never get to.
About ‘Get a New Job’: Give yourself permission to immerse in those passions on the “I Get to Do” list. It is in this space of ‘playful and fun’ that clear and empowering thoughts arrive. Don’t be surprised if a new job opportunity or business idea pops up while you are at bollywood dance class!
One more little spirit lifting tip: For the things that really must get done, playfully say, “I get to do” instead of “I have to do.” The phrase alone lightens up even doing the dishes!
By Janet L. Whitehead © 2010
Published in Kamloops Momma Magazine The Free Magazine for Moms.. and Dad’s too. Dec 2010/Jan 2011 edition. (If you’re a parent or a grandparent or have ever been a kid yourself.. this is an amazing magazine!)