I must admit that my to do list inevitably grows larger than hours in my day. I see that a meaningful, active life perhaps demands that. And I see others who share the incomplete list at the end of the day. In a busy world, this is quite common.
Stressed Out Over Everything to Be Done?
Most folks I see in my practice experience stress over their to-do list. They are very active, moving from task to task and getting much accomplished in their day. If you look at any day, they are quite successful as much is ticked off the list.
And yet, there is limited fulfillment and happiness. Not by my assessment, but by their own reports.
One problem has to do with HOW they play the game of life and failing to recognize what brings value, meaning and happiness to a day or a moment. Let’s discuss one way to address this.
To-do intentions are where most of us live our lives. We are focused on living a life where we seek to get our desires fulfilled, and the to-do list reflects those intentions. This makes sense, of course. And the to-do list is not the problem.
The issue is the exclusivity of those intentions, and the impact that exclusivity has on the quality of our lives. It impacts how we treat others, how we react to our children and spouses as well as how we treat ourselves.
If we examine the values reflected in most to-do lists, most will readily acknowledge that their higher values of kindness, compassion, gratitude, generosity and peace of mind are distant ideas as they pursue the daily to-do’s. There just isn’t time for that! Our intentions are almost solely based in the realm of getting stuff done!
First, this is not some woo-woo psychology thing. It’s doesn’t require reading a book or spending a month to get it. I promise you. This is quite practical and real.
This conversation is about recognizing that we can all play this game of life in a bigger way…in a more meaningful way. And one of the simple ways we can do this is by setting intentions to live in ways that cannot be marked off the to-do list. These also cannot be measured by bigger homes, new cars, a swimming pool or a better social status.
To-be intentions are not counted or measured. You can never win at this, but you can do your best and you can get better and better at it. To-be intentions are about who you want to be, not what you want to be. And not what you want to get done today. Higher values, held through intentions of HOW we want to BE, can never be won. They cannot be measured. We can just simply commit to those intentions and then do our best.
Thought experiment: If you get hit by a bus going home today, will you have been the person you want to be?
Will you have perhaps brought a smile, or will most be frowning at the thought of your interactions? Will you have lied to get what you want, or did you bring integrity to your actions? Were you self-serving only, or did kindness prevail? Did you judge, critique and complain about others or will you recall your compassion to others?
This thought exercise is important, because brutal honesty will reveal the truth. The more the ‘to-do list’ mentality prevailed, the more likely this little experiment brings a cringe rather than a smile.
Here’s the simple idea that helps keep me on track:
How I Do Today…Is More Important Than What I Do Today.
This translates to the following: I want to make sure that HOW I get to work is more important than getting to work early. I want to make certain that HOW I react to others is more important than getting my way. I want to make absolutely certain that HOW I show up reflects the best me possible, and not the greedy, petty and picky part of me. These all point me to how I treat others and the world I live in.
From this, I can then set my intentions to be the person I want to BE today. For me, the daily intention to be loving and kind reigns supreme. The to-be intention sounds like this in my head: ‘Be loving and kind…regardless.’ And yes, the regardless is important!
For you, your values may be different. And thus, your ‘to-be intention’ may be different. However, wherever your values point you and your intentions, use this idea as a guide: How I do today…is more important than what I do today! You will discover your value driven intentions immerge very quickly, if done sincerely and repeatedly.