What’s on Your To Do List?

I read this quote today and it really struck me:

“At the center of our being there really are things
we have a huge desire to do or accomplish.
We keep putting those things off because we live in a frenetic, busy world
and tend to spend most of our time reacting
to the demands of our external influences,
other people, financial problems, physical ailments, and so on…
Life’s real fulfillment comes when we honestly answer these questions:
What really matters most to me?
What would I really like to accomplish?
What legacy would I like to leave behind?”
-Hyrum Smith

I always seem to have a two mile long To Do List. But some of those “to dos” are immediate (like how I really need to remember to pick up from the drycleaner) whereas others are more long-term (like painting our basement playroom, something we’ve had on our household to do list for 3 years now, though my husband has big plans to do so while he has some time off around the holidays this year).

We don’t always get to our To Do List items, immediate or long term, because we’re so busy just treading water to keep up with the everyday. We’re responding to the constant flood of snail mail, email, text messages, phone messages, invitations, and offers. We get sick, because (as comedian Louis CK describes perfectly) our kids cough right in our mouths (yeah, just one of the many indignities of parenthood). We have unexpected hassles and expenses (like how our refrigerator and freezer broke last week right after we’d spent the time, energy, and money stocking up and cooking up a storm!). We try our best to keep up with friends and family. We attend social occasions (both the obligatory and the fun). The holidays swoop down upon us and consume the better part of late October through early January. And of course, we all need to sleep sometime!

But if we’re honest with ourselves (even when it doesn’t make everyone else happy) and we ask ourselves what really matters most to us, the next step is to ask ourselves what we need to do in keeping with that so that we can be at peace by keeping our actions in harmony with our values (and avoiding cognitive dissonance like the comment to my last, guest, blog post). Then we need to move that to the very top of our To Do List, and we really ought to cross that off first letting the other perhaps more urgent but nowhere near as important things take a number.

So I’m doing some introspection to determine my top three (because that makes it finite and manageable) values and making a list of what three specific steps I need to take to ensure that my actions are in line with my beliefs as much as possible under all the circumstances. How about you? What matters most to you and what are you doing about it practically? What’s first on your To Do List?

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About Danielle G. Van Ess

Danielle G. Van Ess is a Massachusetts (born and raised), experienced estate planning and small business attorney who helps her clients protect and preserve what matters most to them. To learn more, please visit: dgvelaw.com or call: 781-740-0848

One thought on “What’s on Your To Do List?

  1. HI Danielle! Like you, I make lists, lots of them. But a few years ago I started making a really meaningful list. Around the turn of the new year, instead of making resloutions, I made a list of things to do/peace of mind/dreams for that year, the items on the list are the same number of years I'd be turning that year. The only guideline is that the list is all about things that better ME. Some of the items have been on mind for years, before I started writing them down, like: learn more Slavic and learn how to crochet something real instead of one long chain. Others are things I really want to get off my mind, like: my family's estate plan (honestly). Planning for the unfortunate is not something I am afraid of but something that has been overwhelming since my husband and I have bought homes, had kids, switched careers, rolled over 401Ks, consolidated loans, you know the drill. As for my list for 2009, almost everything is crossed off, except for a few, and one really big thing in particular. I'm not going to stress about, I'll jsut move those things up on the 2010 list, or reconsider there place on my “to do” list in the first place. The two things I will make a priority in 2010 are finalize our estate plan and get a tattoo. 🙂

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