There is a certain magic in writing a list. It gives me this sense of control over my life. In fact, as long as I act on it, it is exactly what it is – a tool or remote that can help me shape my life in whatever I want to be. All I have to do is to write down a list of my dreams. Then break them down into goals. Then break them down into plans. Then identify steps and have a list of actions to achieve each. It is really that easy. What makes to do lists work is actually what action follows once the list is completed.
Let’s say I dream of having a Masters degree and I am in high school right now. I can read about enrollment rates, requirements for getting in, I can have a list of courses I will need to take, and I can even calculate the grades I need to get to get in. I can write a list of things I need to read, I can write a list of people I need to talk to, a list of solutions for using my time better to study better. However, if I am going to just write this list and put it on my table and then turn back and continue watching TV, I will not get any closer to my goal then I was yesterday.
So lists alone don’t help you achieve things. Most of us have a sense/roadmap how to get where we want to be. If we don’t – we know where to go to read about it, who to talk to, and so on and eventually we will know what to do. The biggest barrier, though, is to actually get up from the sofa/bed/chair and begin doing things. It is this first step that really matters. If you begin doing things today, right this minute, you will see a huge difference. Trust me, I love tomorrow. Tomorrow is when I will finally go to gym, will lose weight, will write to all friends & family members. Tomorrow is when I will begin eating healthy, read more books and maybe even write one.
However, just like I delay doing things to what seems to be just another day, I also delay my happiness – I also push it till tomorrow. If you think that losing weight/building muscles/learning to sing (whatever it is) will make you happier or will improve your life, then, by definition, by not doing these things you continue having the status quo and thus the situation does not change. It takes a significant external factor (e.g. losing job, running out of money, having to take care of someone’s kids/dogs, etc.) that pushes people to act, to do things, to live today. Sometimes it pushes people to do things they secretly always wanted to do (e.g. gives them more energy and they lose fear and perform better at workplace) but it can also take their chances/time/energy/resources away from the one thing they always wanted to do but now really do not have opportunities to do. What you have today is just a result of your action up to today as well as your inaction (perhaps if you acted in a certain way you could get different things/different life). Every action is a choice.
You can never know what tomorrow may bring, but by living your life today and doing things today you can at least use the time and opportunity you have today to achieve your goals or face your fears. Don’t wait for change, be the change. Do one little tiny thing, but do it today. Then, maybe another tiny one – tomorrow. This is how You will get control over your life, and not your circumstances.