List Power


I come from a family of list makers. My grandmother wrote her lists (both to do and grocery) with her black coffee and cigarette on the patio of her Miami beach home. My Aunt’s lists are written in beautiful cursive. Once I saw an item about halfway down, in between going to the market, and paying bills, ‘IB away” it said. When I asked her what it meant, she laughed, “Ironing board away!” The lists my mother kept when I was a child were also about the minutiae of her day, brush teeth they might have said, right above, finish thesis project and buy tickets to Crosby, Stills and Nash concert. My mother didn’t need to be reminded to brush her teeth, nor did my Aunt need a reminder to take down the ironing board, they just wanted the satisfaction of a beefy list all crossed off. Who doesn’t? I write lists all the time, with boring and aspirational goals. My husband has reams of lists which he rewrites on yellow legal pads. Sure, there are a million list apps, but I’m an old-school girl. Something about writing them out and crossing them out is supremely satisfying.


Why I love lists


    1. Lists organize us, help us remember, and make us feel good about ourselves.
    2. You can include on your list something you’ve already done so you can enjoy the buzz of crossing it off.
    3. Didn’t finish it? Carry action items over from one list to the next. For example, I’ve had finish my novel on my list for YEARS!  And lately I’ve been carrying over the item, tattoo?
    4. It is supremely satisfying and dangerous to write lists for other people, but I have done it, and it felt marvelous for me…maybe not so great for the listee.
    5. If you’re feeling blue, it’s okay to write, take a bath, take a walk, smile more to engage the feedback loop, on your list.
    6. Lists have space for BIG and small items, just below make a dentist appointment you can add, learn French! Or high dive in Brazil.
    7. Save your lists! They are a historical record of your life.
    8. List your favorite books, movies, meals, tv shows, etc… when you look back you’ll get a little frisson of happiness and discover what interested you.
    9. Save lists people have given to you.
    10. I start each day with a mini list: my g3/m3. Three things I’m grateful for and three things I want to manifest in my day. Sometimes they’re really pragmatic and sometimes lofty, I don’t write them with a cigarette like my grandma wrote her lists, but I do share them with a friend, nearly everyday, we swap our g3/m3 list to inspire and motivate one another.