I am a list person. As hard as I may try to not be a list person, the reality of it is I love making lists and I love checking things off the list. While my lists often help me to get things done, they can make me feel a little like a failure.
It seems like just yesterday I was 22 and making a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30. I kept this list in my head for years until it dawned on me that turning 30 was not the far off date it once was. This time my list, which was made up of a variety of things that really didn't matter and were given the arbitrary deadline of my 30th birthday, just lead to me freaking out as my birthday approached. There were still a lot of things left on that list. It made me feel like I hadn’t accomplished anything.
Logically, I knew that the fact I had not traveled to Australia didn’t really matter. Especially considering that I had completed a Masters degree and a good portion of a PhD, as well as spending several years as a Communications Manager. But there was still a part of me that really felt like I had failed.
A few deep breaths, a careful examination of what I had accomplished and a wonderful pep talk from my husband made me realize that it was going to be okay. The world was not going to end because I hadn’t traveled to Australia or ran a marathon. Additionally, there were a number of really cool things I had accomplished that were well beyond what I could have imagined when I was 22.
I still have not dropped the list habit (I have a permanent electronic post-it note on my computer), but I am trying to not let the lists run my life. When you focus on the list, you miss the fun that happens in-between.