It's true. I'm a list maker and box checker. I make to do lists, grocery lists, bucket lists, chore lists...the list could go on. No time during the year makes me more excited about making lists than the New Year. That's when I am inspired to make the ultimate list. No, not a list of unrealistic resolutions. A list of my intentions for the New Year: my Annual To Do List.
I've written annual to do lists for as long as I can remember. The first list started as a piece of wall art in my childhood bedroom. I meticulously cut strips of paper and wrote one to do item on each strip. Some items were fairly standard for a teenager: “Get straight A’s,” “Elected as Math Club President,” “Get a Tattoo.” Other items were a little grander and less plausible: “Become President of the United States,” “Featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated,” “Go to the Moon.” Nonetheless, I wrote them all down just in case I might have the opportunity one day to check the box.
I sponge painted my bedroom wall black, which my mother abhorred, and taped each To Do strip of paper in place. As I accomplished an item, I crossed it off with a yellow highlighter. The wall fluoresced, and I stayed motivated to keep checking off items. There were times however, that I fell short of my goals. I red-lined those items. It would have been easy to remove them from the wall and bask in the delusion of my highlighted successes. But the reality was this: sometimes I failed. It was just as important to remember those times and reflect on the lessons that I learned from those experiences as it was to celebrate the times when I succeeded.
I believe the practice of writing out annual to do lists forced me to dream big by visually tracking my successes and to stay grounded in reality by acknowledging my failures. Writing my 2014 To Do List is no exception. I intend to reach for the stars, cheer when I succeed, learn when I fall short and bring as many people along for the ride with me as possible.
This year I incorporated an idea that I borrowed from my dear friend Jasper Kump when making my 2014 To Do List. The idea is to select a simple word as a theme that is personally meaningful and serves as an overarching way to distribute energy across all aspects of life. The word can be a concept like faith, freedom, authenticity or mindfulness. The theme could be a verb like achieve, grow, learn or change. I love this concept of choosing a theme for 2014.
The theme I’ve chosen: Gratitude.
Every day is a blessing. I appreciate all of the people who have been in and out of my life throughout the years. I am grateful for the experiences I have had thus far and the ones that are yet to come. In 2014 I want to focus on recognizing the daily blessings in my life and articulating my gratitude to people around me.
My theme is below along with a few items on my 2014 To Do List. What one word would you choose to guide you through 2014? How might it inspire and motivate you? How do your annual goals tie into your theme?
A feeling of thankfulness or appreciation
Spend quality time with my parents
Speak about acceptance and inclusion at a high school or university
Spend more time being active outdoors
Regularly play the guitar as a form of stress relief
Volunteer with an organization that assists female veterans in San Diego