Tell Me What To Do

Let’s face it, we all want to know what to do. What is the expectation? We spend the first 18 years of our lives begrudging bossy parents telling us what to do at every turn. Brush your teeth, make your bed, and eat your vegetables. It is maddening. I hear my kids remind their Dad and me that they don’t need us to remind them to clean their rooms. Hmm, then why? Yeah, we will move on from that topic. 

The bottom line is that we want to be told what to do. We do want to know what the expectation of us is. It is ours to decide if we choose to meet the expectation, but knowing how it is defined is paramount. Those willing to tell others what to do are revered and paid handsomely. Think of those that make a living telling people what to do:

  • Nike – I mean seriously, first and foremost is their slogan, “Just do it.” They don’t define it because “Just do it” covers everything. Do what? Hoping that you will identify with their mantra and wear their logo as a badge of honor; representing yourself as someone that “Just DOES it” is enough for Nike.
  • Tony Robbins – “If you want to own the island, you must burn the boats.”  Tony is the master of telling people what to do, as proven by his ability to get hundreds, maybe thousands of people to walk across hot coals at the end of his handsomely priced seminars.
    • Diets – Not just one but ALL; tell those that want to lose weight what to do in various forms. Ultimately we all know what to do; get active and stop eating. DONE! Yet according to CNBC, the “weight loss (industry) has grown to be a $71 billion industry, yet according to studies— 95% of diets fail.”  What a business, selling people on what they already know, knowing they will fail and keep coming back. BRILLIANT!

    The last example, and the best proof point for me, is that my husband will get ten times the amount of things done on a list than when left to his own devices. (Shhh, let’s keep that secret weapon between us.) The fact remains that we want to be told what to do.

    Here is what you need to do now:

    1. Look at the roles you hold in your life—wife, mother, employee, citizen, etc.   Consider the roles you want to keep or things you want to do.
    2. Consider the expectations of these roles, all of which you are/do now and those that you wish to adopt. Are they in accordance with one another, competing, or conflicting?
    3. Write the lists! Write the list of what it takes to fulfill each of these roles to meet expectations. Compare the lists. Combine the tasks, and remove duplicates and what is not in agreement.
    4. Combine the lists to create a master list. 

    If only it were five simple steps. The reality is that each of these items can take days to ruminate over. However, your reality will improve significantly if you are willing to do the steps. By understanding the expectations of “you” across your landscape of responsibilities, you can identify what is working and what is not. When you know what is not working, you can decide to remove it, change it, or overcome it. 

    I am always searching for the best way to organize my lists and more importantly how to make time for everything I want to do while still meeting the expectations of my obligations to those that rely on me and most importantly myself. I did this recently to overcome my lack of a finite way to record my “To Do Lists.” I discovered that I was incredibly overextended. By putting all of my lists together and then going one step further to put it all on my calendar, it became clear that there was not enough time in a day to do all that I wanted to do. What to do? I cannot carry on exhausting myself while not meeting the expectations of my various roles. It was time to get a bit deeper.

    Next up, how do you decide what to let go? For this task, I will call on the master of decluttering our lives, Marie Condo, and the “KonMari Method.” Yes, this works for your closets, and your To Do lists!!! 

    If you take these five steps and apply them to your list-making, from up above, you will start to find your way to a Master To Do list that, when used daily, will become habitual. It will make daily decisions and remove the guesswork allowing high-value routines to take shape in your life. 

    Think it through with me:

    1. What are the various “To Do” lists in your life, including those you want to adopt?
    2. Break them into categories like personal and business. Break them into subcategories; family time, strategy sessions, budgeting/finance, etc.
    3. In this case, the next task, “keep only those things that spark joy,” can be literal or applied. You can remove things from your life that no longer suit you, aka “spark joy.”  However, there are those things we all must do that will never “spark joy” but still need to be done. In these cases finding the best-case scenario should be the application. 
      • An example might include cleaning the bathroom. No one wants to clean their bathrooms. However, somebody must do it. In the world of good and evil, cleaning a bathroom that is gently used is better than the sheer misery of cleaning a “dirty” bathroom. (Insert vomiting face emoji!) in this case, putting more frequent bathroom refreshes on your list will serve you better than a bathroom deep-clean once a month.
    4. Just as noted above in the KonMari method, once you have put everything in its place, now create a master list that you can follow, allowing you to check all of the boxes in your life.
    5. And as KonMari notes, “Do it all in one go.”

    While we all want to be told what to do at times, we can also admit that we already know what to do in most of these cases. Those resources that tell us what to do typically remind us what we want to do or, in most cases, need to do. As we wrap up this year, start your New Year’s Resolutions by reviewing your current lists. Meet yourself where you are before deciding on the next year’s resolutions. 

    Resolve today before starting tomorrow. 

    Life as I live it – L.

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