I Love/Hate Checklists
One time, I went to a training seminar in which teachers were there to learn about differentiating instruction to meet individual student needs. In one of the opening activities, the instructor held up four pictures and asked the room full of teachers to walk towards the corner of the room that held the picture that they identified with the most. The four pictures were: 1. a microscope 2. a checklist 3. a puppy 4. a beach ball. For anyone who has a clue about me, it will take you about 0.00005 seconds to know which one I chose. Obviously, I marched straight to that adorable puppy picture and waited for the rest of the room to join me.
But they didn't. Three other teachers stood alongside me beneath the ridiculously cute puppy while about 70% of the group made a beeline for the checklist. I was shocked and appalled! The beach ball was clearly my second choice. Followed by microscope and then checklist...dead last. The instructor told us that people who chose the microscope were usually scientific/analytic types (high school teachers!), beach balls were outgoing and fun, checklists were organized and structured (of course the majority of teachers went here!), and puppies usually wound up being the sensitive nurturers...aka the kindergarten/1st grade teachers. The instructor told us she was a beach-ball trying to be a checklist. She hated lists, but being a beach ball, she had to make them to rein in her impulsive tendencies.
In the same way, I am a puppy trying to be a checklist. I love checklists for the same reason I hate them. Because I need them. Without checklists, I would never, ever, ever get anything done. I mean that. Never. For this reason, I love them. They help me function and focus. They create order out of chaos. They help me control situations that seem daunting or overwhelming. I need them. But I hate checklists too. I hate adding stuff more quickly than I can cross it off. I hate leaving things hanging. Wouldn't it be great if we always were able to check everything off at the end of every day? No unfinished business. No worries. But it's not that neat. Life is messy. When it comes down to it, checklists simultaneously calm me down and stress me out. Remember the sensitive puppies? That's me! Emotions run free....good when it comes to love, joy, compassion, etc. Bad when it comes to sadness or anxiety. I feel everything. Strongly and deeply.
I have to break up with checklists.
I'm not saying I'm done with lists. I already told you- I need them. But, I am done with my negative relationship with them. I am done focusing on all the things left to do, instead of all the things I've accomplished. I am done feeling guilty for not "doing it all". I am through with letting lists create anxiety instead of managing it. DONE!
Why the rant about checklists? Well, because I didn't get everything checked off of my Happiness Project list for May...and now it is June. What's left?
Create a visually happy environment (Project Micro-Makeovers!) Eat right & exercise (Project Un-preggify!) Focus on the “here and now” (Project No More Flashbacks and No More Flashforwards!)
- Spring clean (Project Declutter!)
Avoid “baby bombs” (Project Stay Happy!) Maintain the right attitude (Project Pooping Butterflies!)
- Accept the One who really has control (Project Let God Do His Thang!)
My goal last month was to focus on the things I could control, rather than the things I cannot. Good idea, and I think I did ok, but the problem is that some of these items are not checklist worthy. They cannot be simply crossed off and forgotten. For example, Pooping Butterflies...maintaining the right attitude. I have to make this choice every single day. And guess, what? Sometimes, I don't! Sometimes my attitude stinks! I realized that I am allowed. I am human. A human who's been through a lot!
And for the things that are not crossed off...well, that's because they are the hardest or longest for me. Project Declutter...I started! I really did. I got one closet completely cleaned out. I also cleaned out a purse last week. This will give you insight into why decluttering takes me forever. Inside I found (amongst a crapload of old papers and receipts): a roll of magnetic tape, a pouch of instant hot chocolate, three different zip drives, cotton balls, five shades of lipgloss, a pair of socks, and of course, seven different checklists...all of them incomplete. Those are just the highlights. Decluttering is not a strength of mine.
Lastly, I have tried...really, I have!...to do Project Let God Do His Thang. I have prayed every single day for some degree of acceptance, for my trust to be restored, to be renewed. I think I am closer, but I know I am not there yet. If I was, I would feel better than I do. I would feel peace. I do know that God has a plan for me. But right now, I am kind of mad at Him for giving me this plan, for taking me down such a rocky road. I am angry a lot and have lots of negative thoughts that are swimming around with the positive, hopeful ones. Nope, not at peace, not there yet. So I can't cross it off. And that's ok.
Because me and checklists? We are through. I'm just going to be content being a puppy instead of a puppy-trying-to-be-something-else. I don't get happiness from lists, so creating them for my happiness project was self-defeating. What will I do in their place? I don't know...
Maybe I should make a list?
haha, I kid.
When I figure it out, I'll let you know. xoxo.