The start of a new year is so exciting, so full of promise. It’s easy to get carried away thinking about all of the fun things there are to do in a new year – all of the new habits you can make, classes you can take, projects you can start (or finish), places you can go. I personally have a long list of resolutions for 2015, and, for me, the practice of annual goal-setting hasn’t changed much over time – I love writing down goals for myself each January (and each spring and summer and fall, for that matter). But I’ve also found that there’s a necessary counterbalance to all of the resolution-making, an exercise inspired by Shauna Niequist. This year, in addition to writing down the things I hope to do, I’m starting a tradition of jotting down a list of things I don’t do. As Shauna writes,
“It’s brutal, making the list of Things I Don’t Do, especially for someone like me, who refuses most of the time to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a limit to her personal ability to get things done. But I’ve discovered that the list sets me free. I have it written in black and white, sitting on my desk, and when I’m tempted to go rogue and bake muffins because all the other moms do, I come back to both lists, and I remind myself about the important things: that time is finite, as is energy. And that one day I’ll stand before God and account for what I did with my life. There is work that is only mine to do: a child that is ours to raise, stories that are mine to tell, friends that are mine to walk with. The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.”
So! Here goes nothing – my 2015 list of Things I Don’t Do.
Oh, this is a shameful one to admit. I love writing, clearly – whether it’s here on this blog, for Darling Magazine, or for Bungalow Magazine. I have tried journaling so many times (and I have stacks of beautiful blank journals to show how that turned out). I admire people who journal, who carve the time out to write and write and write, just for themselves. I often think about what an amazing keepsake a journal is, a place to catalogue your thoughts and fears and dreams and hopes. But this year I am saying it aloud: I don’t journal. I don’t keep up with it, going months and months without penning an entry. I channel my writing energy into other places and journaling goes to the wayside. This year I am saying that that is just fine. I have other ways of documenting my life – through photos and this blog and such – and I think it’s okay to reserve my pretty blank journals for to-do lists and recipes and other notes.
Attempt Crafting/DIY Projects
If I believed in reincarnation, I would hope to come back in another life as someone who is so effortlessly talented at crafting and successfully completing DIY projects. I see so many amazing ideas on Pinterest, making me want to invest in crafting supplies and a dedicated space in which to complete projects. However, in this very real life of mine, the closest I can get to any sort of crafting project is putting pictures in frames. So, yeah, there is no need for me to pursue this type of hobby. The only caveat is if a group of girlfriends wants to get together to do some sort of craft or activity – I can always get behind a group project (especially if a little bubbly is involved).
Check E-Mail Before Going to Work…or Before Going to Bed
I have literally zero reason to check my e-mail early in the morning before going into the office or late in the evening before turning in. I am thankful that as far as Touch A Life-related e-mails are concerned, there is nothing so urgent that it can’t be addressed during work hours – and, if there is some sort of emergency, I will receive a phone call or text. Nothing pressing will show up in my inbox, forcing me to miss out on some important bit of information before I can get to the office. The only thing that checking e-mail before work or before going to bed does is stress my little mind out. In the morning it makes me feel rushed to get into the office (even if the e-mails aren’t that urgent – just knowing that they’re there makes me fired up) and at night it keeps me up thinking about my to-do list instead of drifting off to dreamland. There is no point to that madness, so it ends now.
Say Yes to Every Event/Coffee Date/Party I’m Invited To
I have been working on this a bit over the course of the last several months, but I want to make 2015 the year that it sticks. I love a full calendar, one that’s packed to the brim with project deadlines and weekend trips and dinner dates and exercise classes. But I am an introvert at heart – I recharge best by myself, soaking in some quiet time, whether that’s by done by reading or napping or going for a jog or trying a new recipe. So I burn out easily when my social calendar is packed to the brim. I have learned that it is indeed okay to say no to things even though I don’t actually have a conflict that prevents me from saying yes. Since I truly love spending quality time with people, I feel guilty when I turn invitations down without having a “legitimate” reason for doing so. But if I’m not refreshed and engaging, the person I’m with won’t enjoy our time together anyway – I frequently have to remind myself of that. I don’t need to run myself ragged in order to spend time with people I love.
Finish Books That Aren’t Good
There are millions of wonderful books in the world, so many that I don’t need to waste my time on reading the ones that aren’t great. This is not to say that I can decide, say, two pages in, that a book is bad – sometimes I’ve had to persevere through a tough section of a book to find out that, by the end, I love it. But if I’m over halfway through and the content or the writing style are just not improving, it is okay to put the book down and be done with it. The perfectionist in me rejects this idea wholeheartedly but I need to stop wasting time by finishing mediocre books. A plus – they can always be donated to good causes or sold at Half Price Books, majorly reducing clutter in our house.
There you have it! What do you think of a Things I Don’t Do list? Will you make one?
Image via Erin + Tara Photography for Ruffled
Love this thought, Rachel! Thank you for sharing;)))
I love this. So insightful and refreshing!
FINISHING BOOKS THAT AREN’T GOOD. I can so relate to that one. You are so insightful, Rach! I love that you give yourself (and others) the grace and permission to not do things that take away from our overall wellness. You so smart, gir. Love you!!