I have always been a list maker. A task master, if you will. I have been known to make lists within lists to help keep myself organized. (I have also been known to rewrite lists simply because things got “out of order” and I had written the list in pen…yep, you guessed it, I can be a bit OCD about some things.) Bottom-line: I love lists. They keep me organized and focused. And they help me stay on track with deadlines. It doesn’t matter to me if it is a simple thing like remembering to respond to an email or if it is a bigger, more complex task like rolling out a new program at work. I like to see it on the list…and then I LOVE crossing those things off my list! The sense of accomplishment I feel when I look at my list with all those items crossed off is incredibly satisfying.
But what I never realized was just how hyper-focused I was on finishing all those tasks, and what that meant for my focus on everything else happening around me. Then I heard Nancy Levin talking about honoring the space between no longer and not yet, in a podcast interview. By far, one of the most powerful quotes I have come across in my journey these past few years. So profound, that I actually wrote it down when I heard it…then I typed it in large font in a Word document and printed it out so I could hang it up. I wanted to be able to see it everyday…to remind myself daily to slow down and to appreciate the whole process…to enjoy life…to savor each moment and all the people and things in those moments…to be grateful for each day and all the blessings in it. You see, what I was missing out on when I was so intensely focused on my lists and my goals was the importance of the journey. Oh, I had accomplished lots of things, but I never stopped to notice how I was feeling or what I might be missing out on in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed life all the while I was focused on my lists…but my focus was not on the here and now…it was not on the process I was going through these past 2-3 years. Instead it was on my goals and all the things on my “To Do” list. I had my eye on the prize and could only really see “it”, not the path I was on to get to it. The level of enjoyment I was experiencing in my life while being so focused on reaching my goals and crossing things off my list just wasn’t the same as the depth of enjoyment I found to be available when I slowed down and started to appreciate the journey. There’s so much to love about every moment of everyday…not just in the moments when something gets crossed of the list or some goal is achieved.
We all spend so much of our conscious existence going through the motions in our day-to-day tasks (on our way toward some goal or objective), without ever taking notice to all the things around us as we are going through those motions. We aren’t stopping to smell the roses. We aren’t taking time to soak up the sun. We aren’t pausing to be thankful for all the blessings in our lives (in fact we often don’t even see the blessings in our lives because our focus is on achieving some goal and not on all that is around us). Most of us plan to do those things…they may even be on our To Do lists. But it’s always “after I get through this next thing on my calendar”. The problem is, there’s always another thing before we get to those more important things. It’s a never-ending cycle that prevents us from enjoying the journey we are on.
I suppose if I were to leave you with a parting thought today, it would be this: Be present and enjoy your journey in this life. Don’t rush the process or get caught up in “crossing off the next thing on the list”. Enjoy life – it is short, so savor every moment you have. Appreciate the journey and all it has to offer you.