What’s On Your Don’t Do List?

So what’s On Your Don’t Do List?

We all have lists and most of the time our lists consist of things we need to do, must do, want to do or wish that we could do. There are apps galore out there to help us create and manage our lists. I’ve got mine, and I’m sure that you have yours, too!  But what about Your Don’t Do List? I’m guessing that you, as I once did, may never have thought about creating such a list. Today’s post, “What’s On Your Don’t Do List?” explores the value of naming, listing and perhaps (Oh no!) dealing with some of the real things that we wish we didn’t do, or, really don’t have to do in the first place.

What if, by creating our own “Don’t Do List” and adding one or more things to it that we would truly like to stop doing, that it helped us to begin whatever kind of change that we seek? Sometimes just committing such things to words, even when it’s hard, or it hurts to do so, is the best place to start.

Certainly this is not a new concept. Yet I was reminded of it by a recent Daily Question at Gratefulness.org. Then I remembered the following story from someone I’ll call “Carrie,” from almost a decade ago. Carrie was a former client, then a former student intern in a children’s support program that I ran for many years. She had just finished her first year of college, a disastrous one at that, when she called and asked me for help:

Carrie’s Story

Carrie arrived at my office out of breath. She came in, sat down and slowly calmed down as we shared what was new since last seeing each other a year ago. Then Carrie reached into her shoulder back and pulled out a clipboard.So What's On Your Don't Do List? Clipboard

“I have a list,” she said. I have started a don’t do list of all of the things that I need to stop doing so I can get my life back under control.” She then rattled off about fifteen things on her list and said, “Can you help me decide where to begin?”

Let’s just say that Carrie’s list contained a rundown of things that first-year college students frequently do that typically lead to poor grades and poor choices. I was struck more by the sheer honesty of what she had written and revealed than I was of the items themselves.

“That’s a huge list!” I said. “It’s too much to tackle all at once.”

We went through each thing on Carrie’s “Don’t do list” and identified which made the most sense to work on first. We started with two easier things on her list to address and decided to meet in a week and see how it went.  Then we tackled two tough ones and one more after that. With each successive thing that she stopped doing she scribbled it out with a red felt tip pen so that it was hard to read what was written before. Soon, the summer ended and Carrie headed back to college.

But Carrie’s idea, her determination and the concept of her “Don’t Do List” stayed with me long after Carrie moved on with her life. I even used it as an exercise in my teen support group for several years thereafter.

And what about us?

What might our own “Don’t Do List” look like? Would there be one, three or a dozen things on our own list too? Can we be totally honest with ourselves, as brutally honest as my former client appeared to be? And I get it that there may well be some things that some of us would like to add to our own “Don’t Do List,” but that they’re too private, to personal, perhaps even too shameful to ever write down using a pen or a keyboard. But if we know what they are we can still list them front and center in the privacy of our own minds, can’t we? That’s a start, at least.What's on your Don't Do List? Decide how to live

As I explored with Carrie years ago, here’s a bullet-list of questions that I offer as a place to begin:

  • Take a day or two to begin creating your own Don’t Do List.
  • What things do I do that are not mine to be doing?
  • What things do others seemingly expect me to do?
  • What consequence comes from stopping this thing?
  • What benefit comes from stopping this thing?
  • What things am I doing that cost me the most?
  • Am I still doing things that my parents expected me to do?
  • Are there things that I do that I know are just wrong?
  • How might I feel after stopping this thing?
  • If I lower the things on my Don’t Do List, what new thing or new joy might soon have room to take root?

Don’t let the following get in your way

I can’t do it. (You can! Click HERE for some inspirational nuggets!)
People will be mad at me. (So.)
Nobody else can do it but me. (Really?)
It needs to be done right so I’ll do it. (More really.)
People will be happy if I do it, so I should. (Are you happy doing it?)
Remember the phrase, “don’t should on yourself!” (It’s a recovery term… they’re experts!)

Final thoughts

Need a bit more encouragement? Consider visiting My Rise Up Quotes section here at Rise This Day, and read Making Sense of Change, a page of quotes devoted to change!

Besides, what do you have to lose? It’s your life and your future! Let me know if I can be supportive in any way with a note in the box below. Remember, I have my list too. We all do. Cheers!

Text and images by K. Lee

Author: Kevin Lee

In a nutshell, Kevin fesses up to the following: He's a retired youth advocate-counselor, a blogger, writer, photographer, rower, Friends Minister, grandpa of six and married to a terrific woman for 43 years and counting!

Leave a Reply