The List

 Archers by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Archers by Alfred Eisenstaedt

When we talk to women about their success, we like to ask them about their everyday rituals. What grounds them? What gets them through the day to day? What keeps them energized and moving despite all the resistance and fear and bullshit? For Molly, it was a hot bath and an evening meditation. For Haley, it was her green smoothie every morning; but for most of the women, it was lists.

And I will confess to you now, that I am a list maker myself. I prefer paper and pen to iPhones and iPads. Notebooks are my list vehicle of choice, but every Monday I make a business to-do list on my Google Drive. And my to-do lists help me. I can’t get creative when I’m trying to juggle chores and meeting times. I can’t write with the “fear of forgetting” hanging over me. So I make lists. And I love them. I make them before meetings and after meetings (a trait that Christina finds mildly disturbing), I make them in the morning before I begin my work and in the evening before I go to bed. I’m even the kind of girl who puts things on her list that she’s already done just so she can cross them off. There. I said it. 

But, with creativity on our minds this week, I’d like to bring up a different kind of list. One with a capitol L. Every new years, my boyfriend and I come up with The List — intentions and goals for the year ahead. Sometimes, they’re totally dreamy (become a writer, take the Great American Road Trip), sometimes we repeat them (improve posture, drink more water) and sometimes they’re definitive (raise income by 20%, save $150 per month). We check The List throughout the year to see how we’re doing (and to remind ourselves about our posture). Two years ago, my list had on it “publish a piece I’ve written”. Now, writing is my job — full time. A year ago, our list had  “visit the Redwoods” on it and last Summer we spent six days camping in the Redwood Forest.

This practice has taught me that dreams are as tangible and achievable as you decide they can be. The first step for me will always be saying them out loud; then writing them down, then giving them a time frame. There is no punishment for our unfulfilled New Years promises. And no shame for those things unachieved. Sometimes our goals and intentions change, sometimes we make them more reasonable (or more daring). 

I’ve come to realize that The List may no longer be a New Year’s Eve exclusive activity. As I grow as a businesswoman, friend, traveler, partner, creator and writer perhaps I will update my List more frequently. Perhaps, I will spend a moment to dwell on my wishes and ambitions two or three times a year. How can I move forward if I don’t ask myself where I’m going? So today, or this week, or this month, or this Summer, I encourage you to make your List. (No errands or emails allowed.)





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