Step Away from the List

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Soaring not Striving

How do you feel when you ask someone to do something and they reply:

I’m just….

For me – it is a start of a sentence that I really dislike hearing. It basically says “You’re not as important as this…..”

And yet those two words find themselves at the start of my replies far too often – even when I am talking to myself!

Child: “Mum are you coming through so we can start the film?”   

Me: I’m just wiping the table.

Me: Can you come down to lay the table? 

Child: I’ll just finish the page.

Me to self: You’re getting a bit frantic about this, take a break and come back to it. 

My reply to self: I’ll just finish this bit.

And the worse thing is that I’m just….is rarely followed by the truth. I SAY “I’ll just wipe the table”, but in all truth I am planning to wipe the table, sweep the floor and make myself a cup of tea!  My child SAYS “I’ll just finish the page” but what they really mean is “I’ll get to a good bit to stop”.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s often absolutely appropriate to ask someone to wait while you finish something – but there is a way to say it that makes it clear that you value them, that you are ready to obey (i.e. when we have asked our children to do something) or to come right now if that is what is really needed, and that is honest and realistic about what you are planning to do.

Image result for long list
I’ve just got one or two things on my list – won’t be a moment!

There is no just!

You are either coming or you are not coming. You are either ready or not.

(Sounds a bit like a game of Hide and Seek doesn’t it?!)

Otherwise not only are we not being honest with others we are probably not being very honest with ourselves. In my case at any rate, a day full of “I’ll just ….” should act as an alarm bell that I am trying to juggle too many things. In the words of my last post – that drips are dripping all over the place. That the lists are taking over!

Before we go on let’s be clear:

Lists are great – I like lists!

BUT..

I am realising that perhaps they should come with a warning. Certainly in my case anyway – because if I am not careful I quickly let them dominate my life.
Let me explain:
I make a list so I don’t have to rehearse everything over and over in my mind. The list is an enclosure where a job can be kept until I get to it without the risk of it running away!

Note to self: Just because a job exists / has come to mind does NOT mean it has to go on the list! Some jobs are better running free!

But then I go on going over and over it in my mind. I go over what I have got done from the list, what I haven’t got done from it and what I need to add to it. So I end up emotionally ‘paying’ for each item on the list at least twice. Worse than that I think the people close to us can see the list in our eyes – see us scanning it as we ‘listen’ to them.

Our lists become like the ring in The Lord of the Rings – we want to turn them over in our minds, fiddle with them, look at them and master them. But we all know that the ring can’t be mastered!

OK so that is a bit dramatic – but you get my point.

Apologies if you have never read The Lord of the Rings and have no idea what I am talking about!

I’m not suggesting throwing our lists into the fire of Mount Doom – I think I would find that harder than Frodo did! But I do think we need to regularly put them down and walk away. Deliberately leaving things undone, deliberately ignoring their calls to us. Like Bilbo we need to give them up of our own free will to free us from their dominion over us. When we try to become The Lord of the Lists, the Lists rule the day. But when we regularly put them to one side and treat them as the suggestions on scraps of paper they are rather than the Holy Grail of our day – well then their power over us wains.

So stop constantly doing just one more thing! Stop chasing the end of the list like a dog chasing its tail.

Let’s see who is boss today!

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