Is Your To-Do List Making You Neglect Your Dreams?
I read an interesting line in a blog post this morning –
“What would be the long-term consequences if you started just doing exactly what you wanted?”
The article was about procrastination, and why it might not be such a bad thing after all, and it got me thinking –
What if most of the tasks and assignments we set for ourselves are not actually things we are meant to be spending our time on at all but are instead distractions from creating the life we would if only we had the courage?
I don’t know about you, but my to-do list tends to be filled with all of the things I know ‘must be done’ in my business and life. Sure, there are things on there that I want to do as well; things that relate to my ‘one day’ goals and dreams but I’ve noticed those things tend to be less defined and certainly less urgent.
Time and again they are put off for another day.
But as much as I sometimes procrastinate on taking strategic steps toward living my dream life – such as building a name for myself as a famous transformational speaker and author – in other ways I find that I’m constantly and naturally being drawn to the activities that move me closer to this.
For example, I often delay on my emails and business tasks for the day because I want to spend my morning time reading, journalling, being inspired and then writing a new blog post or article. Stuff that most definitely is NOT on my to-do list and that most definitely IS aligned with the real life and business I want for myself.
Take a look at your own typical day or hours work: what are the things you find yourself drawn to doing again and again even when they’re not on your task list? And what if instead of telling yourself to get back on track with the day, you decided instead to go with it and become more strategic about your ‘time-wasting’ or procrastination activities?
For me this would mean that instead of writing countless non-related articles and blog posts, many of which often are never published, I’d instead create a plan around my writing and do things like publish more books, pitch my articles to appear on other blogs, create ‘pillar’ or series articles that would more effectively help people and therefore more effectively build my brand.
Of course one problem with turning your natural leanings and inclinations into a strategic plan for success is that it requires you to put yourself on the line.
In some ways it’s far easier to let ‘indulge yourself’ by procrastinating with (for example) creating something new before getting back to your ‘real work’ of often mindless and unnecessary Things That Must Be Done To Be Successful.
And the truth of course is that for most of us, the items on our to-do list are not at all aligned with who we truly want to be nor who we truly are born to be. They’re aligned with who and what we think we NEED to be.
The really sad thing about this is that if you keep living by a to-do list constructed on this basis, you are ultimately choosing to neglect your big dreams and goals in favour of Getting Things Done.
Is that how you want to live your life? I know I don’t.
So here’s a challenge for you, if you care (or dare!) to join me.
Take a good hard look at that to-do list of yours. Do it now. If you have the niggling sense that there are SO many things that should be on there, take the time to write them all down first. It’s important to get all of this stuff out of your head.
Next, write a (separate) list of all the things you’d love to be spending your time on.
For me my list is not so long –
Journalling pretty much daily
Writing from the heart/authentically about dream business and life creation; again pretty much daily
Calling people to take action to create THEIR dreams
Being inspired enough to write and create the way I love to (which means taking daily time out to read other inspiring work, to meditate, cloud-gaze, go on a ‘thinking’ walk and so on)
Taking the time to workout the way I want to
Spending regular time in nature
Having lots of ‘spontaneous’ time to do whatever I feel like doing either alone or with my family
Write your own list now.
The next step is to look at your original to-do list. Separate the items that actually must be done (must means MUST it does not mean you think they should). Those can stay on the list. Then (and this is the scary part) delete any items that are really just shoulds that you think you need to do.
This includes things in your business like learning about SEO, answering every email or comment you receive, finishing off that ebook you started 2 years ago that’s really not at all aligned with your true message.
In your personal life it might include things like cleaning the house daily (or at all lol – you know you can hire people for that right?!), ironing clothes, answering your social media notifications, catching up with people who you don’t really want to, and so on.
Here’s the thing – yes it will feel scary to stop doing these sort of things that most people consider a must. But which is scarier – deleting a bunch of unfulfilling stuff from your daily routine, or allowing your to-do list to rule your life to the extent that you never achieve your true business or life dreams?
It’s totally up to you, but I know what I’d prefer.
The final step: taking the leap toward making your dreams your reality
The very last step is possibly the hardest of all.
As much as just ‘going with the flow’ and doing what you want each day might be fun and certainly freeing for a while, it’s probably not going to be strategic enough to actually allow you to reach your dreams.
For example, one of my top 5 big dreams is to become a famous international transformational author. If I ‘go with the flow’ I would write something most mornings, such as this article.
While that would certainly result in a lot of blog posts published, I’d say there’s only a very slim chance it would lead to my becoming the kind of leading success author and coach I want to be.
So even though it’s easier to not assign myself a strategy around my writing it’s certainly not smarter. When I say it’s easier not to, I mean it’s easier in that if I do get ‘more serious’ about it I acknowledge that I’m truly committing to achieving it and therefore I also have to deal with my fears of rejection or not making it.
Here are the kind of actions I might take if I were seriously committed to achieving my dream of becoming a famous transformational author –Create and self-publish a book around the concept of creating your dream life
Take the time to market the crap out of it (or get somebody to do so) rather than just publishing it and hoping for the best
Write article and blog post series’ and promote them properly, rather than just publishing endless new blog posts on a random variety of topics and only ever promoting each one once on Facebook or over email
Affirm my success around this area daily Hire somebody to promote my existing writing even if just to re-market it on my own Facebook page regularly
Read some books on writing, and consciously aim to improve my skills
Can you see how this then gives me actual actionable tasks I could put on my (new and improved!) to-do list to follow each day? And how if I actually implemented this stuff it would give me a far greater chance of achieving my big dream than simply using my writing as a tool to procrastinate on my so-called must-do tasks?
The idea here is not that you need to throw out your own to-do list in order to ever become the you who you want to be. But the truth is that your current list very likely is filled with musts and shoulds rather than tasks based on moving you closer to your one day life.
The more horrifying truth is that most women entrepreneurs will never escape running their business and life this way. For most of us it’s just not in our nature to assume we could be successful by doing exactly what we like.
But here’s the thing.
You’re going to spend hours, days, weeks, full months and even years of your life taking action and Getting Things Done anyway, aren’t you? So why NOT get things done that really matter. For you. In the big picture. Why not?
Yes it will be scary putting yourself out there like that.
Yes it’s easier to fill your list and your time with Things That Must Be Done that don’t fully relate to what you actually long for.
And yes you very well could spend your entire life moving forward this way.
The only problem, of course, is that in doing so you wouldn’t be moving forward at all. Not really.
I hope you’ll join me in giving your to-do list a makeover today. It’s time to start actioning those dreams beautiful!
Don’t forget –
Life is Now. Press Play.