Thursday, December 16, 2010

The list maker


Since I was in my early teens I've been a frequent list maker. When I started writing the lists they were mostly centered around hooking up with idols, like Morrissey and Michael Stipe (clearly my gaydar was malfunctioning!) and loosing weight (I was somewhat pudgy when I was younger). Then it moved on to be less about my personal life and more about what I wanted to achieve in the future.

And when I look back at those scribbles, I am often baffled by how many of these goals I've actually achieved. 13 years ago I wrote that I wanted to support myself through writing. Which is something I've done full time for the last 7 years, and considering how cut-throat, recession sensitive and fickle this trade is, it's quite an achievement in my humble opinion. In 1999, while on materinty leave, I wrote that I wanted to do a non-fiction book. Just one year later I co-authored an internet guide that was then published in several editions. And early this fall I listed 5 things that I wanted to achieve with my Etsy shop before the New Year (being on the front page twice, reaching 50 sold items, being in more than 50 treasuries, etc). And looking at this list now I can see that I've succeeded with 4 out of 5 things. It should be noted that I don't have very lofty goals (like living in a castle or becoming a movie star), I try to keep the lists somewhat realistic. Also, as an companion to those lists, I make to-do lists on how to achieve those goals. But I don't beat myself over if I can't tick off those lists. They are a tool, not a must.

Even though list making is a recurring part of my life, I don't really talk about it with those who are close to me. I guess I'm afraid that this trait might appear somewhat self indulgent, like I'm this rigid, obsessive go-getter (and my ex-husband did in fact have some issues with me being a list maker, maybe that's why I am even more sensitive about it now?). On the other hand I think that sometimes friends doesn't quite understand how hard I work on things and how much I map my career actions. What might seem easy and by chance is in fact the result of strategic laid out plans (though just writing a word like "strategic" makes me cringe, maybe it's a Swedish mentality thing?).

Also as I mentioned above I hardly ever do lists about my personal life anymore. Partly because I'm pretty happy about my life as a whole and those things that are troublesome are usually beyond my control or at least beyond the scope of a list. And partly because I think lists about personal improvement kind of fly in the face of self-acceptance. In fact I think that a constant striving to become a better person is a sure fire way to feel more displeased about one self. So I won't write down any New Year's resolutions, but I wouldn't be surprised that when 2012 rolls around, I've filled at least one more note book with messily scribbled lists.

7 comments:

  1. As I was driving home from work, I was listening to the "youth" radio station TripleJ. The presenter had a new tattoo- a 'to-do list' tattooed on his thigh. He didn't say what was on the list but I guess they are things that will remain undone for a long time.

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  2. Hehe, that is awesome! The Swedish artist Helene Billgren has a grocery shopping list on her arm.

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  3. I am a fellow list maker! I make a new list almost everyday. I'm a stay-at-home mom so my lists are quite different than yours but they still help me keep track of what needs to be done and how much I have accomplished. I couldn't live with out my lists!

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  4. [Reposted because I accidentally included my full name in the original comment--would you mind deleting that one? Thanks!]

    I am a list-maker too. I keep lists everywhere. I have post-its and notepads in every room and at work, and I keep a piece of paper in my pocket always, to jot down grocery lists, to-do's, or recommendations for music, books, movies, sewing patterns, etc. I also have "favorites" lists and wish lists.

    I love to make New Years' resolutions, but I've found that my list gets shorter every year. I guess I'm getting better at focusing on what's important.

    I love crossing things off my lists, and like you, I especially love it when I find an old list and realize I've accomplished more than I thought I would, at the time.

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  5. What you've described is what I'd call goal-setting. You list what you want to achieve, but also what you're going to do in order to achieve them. I haven't bothered except once - and I believe that the simple act of clarifying what you want goes a long way towards getting it.

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  6. Ah this hit home for me. When I was in college and had my back against the wall time wise writing papers, I used to make elaborate lists of what had to be finished and timetables as to how I would accomplish it all. It helped me get through some busy times. I can totally relate.

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  7. I love lists! However, mine are usually just weekly job to-do lists and not so much goal-setting.

    I have a question for you. I am a relatively new etsy seller and after 4 months, I'm only in 1 treasury and never on the front page. I haven't made any treasuries - is that the step I'm missing? I do have a blog and I thought I could get enough traffic/sales to the etsy shop that way. What did you do to get yourself out there?

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