Stop Letting Your List Make You Feel Guilty

Over the years I’ve spoken to a wide variety of people about their lists, some who always cross every item off their lists and some struggling to make lists at all. But there is one thing we all seem to have in common when it comes to lists – guilt over not getting it all done.

Even when it’s a small item I haven’t crossed off my list I feel compelled to find some reason why. I couldn’t get milk because I left a meeting late or I didn’t go for a run because it was too cold this morning.

The excuses we make always find something else other than ourselves at fault.

It’s not because we are necessarily trying to shift the blame, but because our brains like stories. We understand concepts and ideas better when they are presented in narrative form. So when we miss an item on our list we want to have a ‘story’ as to why it’s still there.

These stories can sometimes have positive effects on our lives, just by believing you’re a more lucky or more confident person you can make it so. But the stories we tell ourselves can also hold us back. We might avoid trying something new or taking on a difficult challenge because we believe we aren’t good enough or smart enough.

Once you release that it’s mostly in your head you can start to break out of these negative behaviour patterns.

Here’s some thoughts you might be thinking and how to get over it:

I’m too forgetful – Do you rush to make a note of something the second you hear it just in case you forget? Do you make so many notes you often can’t keep track of them all? This doesn’t make you forgetful or disorganized. Everyone has a limited memory, it’s part of being human.

Try to take note of the things you do remember, like your best friend’s favorite song or the secret back road to avoid traffic. You’ll be surprised how much you actually do remember if you push yourself! When it comes to making notes – keep them simple – you don’t have to write down every detail. Trust yourself to work out the rest.

I’m not organized – Do you joke about how you’re always late or your life always seems to be in a mess? Eccentric creative people can often get down on themselves when they see other people with well planned out schedules, who are always perfectly on time. You might go to a friend or colleague’s house and wonder how they manage to keep it so immaculately tidy.

As an hyper organized person I’m going to tell you a secret – I’m just as messy as you are. But just like that couple on your Facebook feed who always seem to be on vacation, we only show you the glamorous side of our lives. You don’t see all the effort that goes into that scheduling or the hours spent tidying. Once you accept that everyone has to work at being organized you can start to take small steps to getting there yourself. It won’t come easy to you and it might not feel natural, but once you find a system that works for you it all starts to click into place.

I don’t exercise – There are some people who treat going to the gym like it’s a religion, and then there are the rest of us. I’ve never been much of a sporty person myself, so I’ve never really seen the appeal. One of my media consulting clients is a personal trainer and nutritionist named Jay Nixon. He wrote a book called, “The Overweight Mind” and he believes the stories we tell ourselves can have a huge impact on our fitness. He works with people who say they aren’t into exercise or that they don’t run. He has them start out with small steps like walking quickly, then jogging and finally going running. Many of the people you see running in the park once started out just like you!

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