Making To Do Lists for the Spirit
It's that time of year again - running from pillar to post in
order to collapse at the finish line with your List marked DONE!
To help you remember your true priorities, I'm suggesting that
you create a
To Do List for the Spirit
- With My Partner - With My Family - With
Under "For Myself" goes everything you keep
saying you want to do when you get the time. It includes all possibilities,
from long, steamy bubble baths, to an evening with the novel you
bought six months ago, to a hike up the nearest mountain, to a
class you'd like to take, to a recipe you want to try, or to a
trip to a spa. Everything.
"With My Partner" is the column for planning
enjoyable time with your significant other. This could also be
wide-ranging, from having breakfast together to planning a cruise.
Day trips into the city, tennis lessons, week-end getaways, DVDs
to rent - plan something for just the two of you.
"With My Family" involves people you're related
to and would like to spend more time with. Here is where you put
ideas for events for the whole family to do together or with one
or two others: taking your children our for a meal individually,
so you can give them special attention, or inviting an aunt or
uncle to join you; possibly you could plan a family reunion, a
game of Monopoly, or a Sunday drive, or a trip to Disney World.
"With My Friends" identifies the people other
than family members you would like more contact with. Can you
plan an evening out with someone? A joint vacation? More frequent
phone connections or email? Meeting for coffee one day a week?
Now here is the critical point: This list is just as important
as your other to-do lists. Of course, many of us have been
conditioned not to even think about this list until The Other
Ones are completed, but you probably already know the truth about
that myth. You will never, ever reach the bottom of your daily
to-do list, and if you wait to take care of yourself until you
do, you will be in quite a sorry state.
To feel balanced, you need to integrate the two lists, or at
the very least pick one from each column of the Spirit List to
do each week. Because the truth is, it's generally not how busy
we are that creates problems; it's what we're busy doing. When
we feel out of balance, we start experiencing frustration or resentment,
and only by giving attention to the things we miss can we start
to feel whole again.
This isn't an easy thing to balance in December. But if you're
aware of what's missing and what would make you feel better in
a month of doing for others, you at least have the opportunity
to fit in small activities wherever possible. For instance, which
column in your life would you say needs the most attention right
now? Would you love more time alone? With your partner? Would
you like more quality time with your kids, parents, siblings or
friends? Whatever jumps out at you is where you should focus your
Remember, it's not a question of whether you deserve the time
to do these things. You don't "earn" time for fun. Taking
care of your personal and social needs is a must, and it's what
makes everything else doable.
I've found, though, that even when we make time to take care
of ourselves, we're often quick to sacrifice it if someone else
seems needier. One way to keep a check on this tendency is to
mark your "Time to Take Care of Me" hours with a yellow
highlighter in your planner book or on your calendar. Call it
your SunBeam Time. This is your special block of time, and every
day that you give it up is a statement that the needs of other
have taken precedence. During the holidays that may become a necessity,
I know, but it shouldn't be the rule if you can help it.
SunBeam Time becomes particularly important during the winter
months of the year. When natural sunshine is limited, you have
to create it yourself. And it's amazing how the opportunities
appear once you start paying attention.
I wish you much happiness this season, and hope that you will
make an intention to include your To Do List for the Spirit.