Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Project You! Abandon the To-Do List

Project You!

Week 3: Avoid Goal Setting and Abandon the To-Do List

Last week we looked at how to stop feeling guilty, you can read that post HERE.

Today, I want to talk about NOT setting goals. Don’t adjust your monitor; I did just suggest that you avoid goal setting – me, the queen of resolutions!

Over the past year, I’ve had to abandon some challenges due to my health; it was upsetting and unnerving as I saw this as a ‘failure.' As the year rolled by, I began to understand the importance of living without a purpose.

My to-do list was, and still is but in a much smaller scale, a great comfort to me. I love a schedule and a deadline, and I find it helpful to run the household events/tasks using a paper diary and calendar.

However, how often have you looked at your to-do list and felt defeated? Not because you haven’t managed to tick off all the tasks but because you find those particular duties hold no meaning. It’s just ‘stuff to do’ instead of activities that drive your real goals forward.

These days, my to-do list includes scheduling blog posts, author interviews and book reviews. I’m fortunate that I love doing this. However, I used to forget to plan in writing time for the books I’m working on. It’s all very well promoting other books but not to the detriment of your own career! I didn’t want to lose any enthusiasm for blogging, reading or writing, so I made sure to block out sections of my diary to work on my WIP.

If you find yourself getting caught up in a to-do list that fills you with dread rather than inspiration, then it’s time to re-think your strategy. It’s your well-being and sanity that could suffer if you don’t.

We all wish to wake up in the morning full of purpose and passion for our daily work, tasks, or events. When this fire begins to splutter, or worse, go out altogether, then you’ve spread yourself far too thin and your health, both physical and emotional, will be at risk.

Try listening to your inner guru. What is it telling you? Be instinctive in your actions and shift towards activities and experiences that thrill you. Grab a piece of paper and have a speedy brainstorming session. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What inspires me? (Gardening, reading, crafting)
  2. Who inspires me and why? (Friends, family, celebrity figures)
  3. Where can I go to feel motivated? (Gym, coffee shop, stately home)
  4. What can I do to feel enthusiastic? (Hobbies, going for a walk, joining a group)
  5. If money was no option, what would I do with my time? (Dream big!)

We get so caught up with our job or family that we become like robots, moving from one to-do list to the next and never daring to deviate. It’s okay to allow yourself to step out of that comfort zone of goal setting, just as it’s okay to abandon your to-do list and see how the day progresses. Without this structure, you may just find new opportunities that delight your soul.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. As a dedicated goal setter myself, it took time for me to let go of that stability and go with the flow. Now, I enjoy a balance of both.


  1. Ha ha, my To-do list is long...sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. You're right, it's all about finding a balance. I've posted several times about achieving dreams/goals, and it's about finding what works for you! I love your five questions, it really helps with perspective.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. Glad you liked the questions :-)

  2. I like the questions, too. I don't think I could abandon my lists completely, but I know what you mean about them sometimes setting me up for a fall. Maybe all lists should be limited to five things, and perhaps the last item should always be a reward. For instance, having rung the bank, finished that proofreading task, cleaned the bath and done my filing, I could go and sit in the garden with a book for 10 minutes. Or perhaps the list should just be one thing: to live the day with a good heart and an open mind.

    1. I love that idea, Julia (especially the reward bit!);-)

  3. This is exactly the reminder I needed this week, Shelley! I felt myself drowning in unsatisfying appointments and obligations, with a long to-do list of equally unsatisfying phone calls and chores. Yesterday afternoon I took off for an hour of walking in the woods with my camera and came back refreshed.

    Another thing I often do is put the most satisfying activities at the top of my to-do list, in order of importance, with the chores beneath. I may not necessarily do things in that order, but it's a reminder of what matters most to me.