I always found New Years Resolutions useless. Why would I need some outstanding start date to get a project going?
Here is what I do instead: I have three (3) ongoing lists in my Evernote account (click here if you want to know more about Evernote).
One is a “List of Blessings” for what is good and going well in my life. That List of Blessings helps me to better cope with setbacks that always happen, and it also helps me to prioritize those projects that I have in a second document, which is my “List of Plans”.
My “List of Plans” captures new ideas, which I receive often. From time to time I go through this List of Plans for thinking about what I could do next. This List of Plans is for reflecting on the big picture, and for connecting the dots. I find it inspiring to go through that List of Plans.
And I have a “Prayer List”, which is separate from the “List of Blessings” and from my “List of Plans”. My prayer list is for writing down my deepest feelings, it comes with write-ups of dreams and of incidents that made an impact in my life, be it positive or negative. And – important – I put my fears on that list.
These three lists have served me well ever. I have them at least since I went to university, although they have changed shape over time. What was paper sits today in the cloud.
I update my Prayer List frequently, and I revise my List of Plans often. My List of Blessings comes out if there is a setback in my life or when it is a good time to update it. Good times are my birthday, Christmas Eve, New Year`s Eve, and similar events that come with some quiet time for me.
I cannot precisely describe why my three lists work so well for me, that is why I put below a few motives and principles that guide me through my life. Maybe you find a good explanation for that. What I can tell you is that these lists work.
What I Am Good At
I have many talents, but I have many more shortcomings. When I was still young I was told that I should focus on improving my shortcomings. This had never worked. I have instinctively focused on my talents because that was also more fun. That brought in success, and that made my efforts also more enjoyable.
A few years back I found some useful tools that helped me to more clearly define my strengths. And I found models that help me to prioritize my ongoing projects on my List of Plans such that they leverage on my strengths.
And by doing so I also found out from what I better stay away. One thing I am not good at is having to assign motives to what people do. And another area is that – although having read psychology at university – I better stay away from psychoanalysis.
What studying clinical psychology taught me was that we all have unique personalities that are ingrained in our brains, and I would rather call it soul. We can change our behavior, but not our personality. We can train to feel more comfortable with new traits by every now and then deliberately leaving the box that our personality constitutes for us. Whatever we do, our personality and the talents that come with it will always remain as they were. That re-inforces what I am already doing for decades: to focus on my talents. There are so many opportunities out there, and seeing these opportunities right in front of me, it does not appear to be worthwhile for me to fight against nature in myself.
Where is Happyness in This Picture?
I have written before about the Pursuit of Happiness and why this is not a preferred lifestyle for me (click here). I also find that people that draw their life energy from happiness are very vulnerable for depression. It is simply impossible to be happy all the time because life constantly produces setbacks that in turn remove happiness from us.
Still, happiness plays an important part in my life. What probably contributes more to my happiness than any accomplishment in my ongoing projects is removing a negative aspect of my life.
That is why I have started to systematically de-clutter my life in 2020 from negatives. And that brought much happiness into my life.
Mistakes, Bad Things, and Fear
I find it always better to learn from others` mistakes than from my own mistakes. That is why I like reading about failures that come from mistakes more than reading success stories. I realized early in life that no matter how smart one is, one will always encounter these mistakes. In soccer, we say that a good defense line is worth much more than a bold center-forward. Applied to my own life, I am always grateful it when successful people share their failures with me. But I am digressing.
The issue here are my fears and my storage place for these fears, my “Prayer List”.
It is normal to have fears, and different people cope differently with these fears. “Ffear” is a sensitive topic that makes people leave the room when I touch this matter during a public talk.
What helps me with my fears is my Christian faith in God. The Bible is full of verses that promise that God will deliver us from every trouble.
I understand that not everyone has the Christian faith in God, and trying to convince people about my belief is useless, if not harmful. So I just let the Bible speak:
- “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (Psalms 34:19)
- “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (Psalm 34:18)
- “Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalms 55:22)
God invites us to present our fears to him. And this is what I do when I fill my “Prayer List” with all that possibly can bother me. If that works for me it may also work for you.
If that does not comfort you then you may refer to Master Yoda from Star Wars: “Named your fear must be before banish it you can.” and he has more insight about fear, click here
And the famous writer J.K. Rowling once said: “I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
These are all good reason to have a document where one puts all his fears in writing.
Call To Action
Start your three lists today:
- one list for the blessings in your life
- one list for all the potential plans that you have
- and one list for your fears.
Use Evernote for that, there is even a free version available.
And then you are good to go for finding out the #1 plan that you pursue in 2021.
Martin “Systematic” Schweiger