The To-Don’t List

Photo by  Fuschia Foot

Since I was old enough to write, I’ve kept a to-do list. It’s a necessary tool in my daily living and I don’t apologize for it. I acknowledge and honor it.I’ve started a different kind of list, a totally “selfish” list that’s designed to keep me from letting my time get sucked up by things I don’t want to do and/or things that leave me feeling resentful of the time that can never be replaced. Or just things that take up WAAAAAAY too much of my time that other people are completely oblivious to. These are the things I’ve had a hard time saying no to in the past but over recent years, I’ve developed a new mindset of “I don’t do _____” that I don’t—and won’t–apologize for, though I will readily explain because the person asking has usually never thought about why I might say no.This is a powerful tool that prevents me from going back to the days of working an extra 40 to 60 hours a week at work for someone else, whether that work is for a charity or a download of guilt or a feeling of “I have to do this.” It’s much easier to have my own established guidelines, and I’m less likely to get trapped into something I really don’t want to do because of pressure from colleagues or relatives. There’s no waffling on my part because I know my limits.

“You want me to sprout wings and fly? Oh, I don’t do that. You want me to make one of my yummy turkey lasagnas and bring it to the office luncheon tomorrow? Oh, I don’t do that, either.”

Here are a few of my to-don’ts and why:

– I don’t do fundraising. Never on the selling and very rarely on the buying. I hate it. Have always hated it. Maybe because it feels too much like begging when I’m hawking junk and I’m resentful when I’m asked to buy it. Maybe because I still remember the company VP who was making 10 times my salary (I helped with payroll) but would bring his little kids to my office to guilt us into buying $2 of junk for $25 when most of us were so poorly paid that we couldn’t afford lunch. I have sold my last overpriced candy bars, cookies, calendars, magazines, cheese cakes, gift wrap, candles, whatever. And I’ve bought my last overpriced candy bars, cookies, calendars, magazines, cheese cakes, gift wrap, candles, whatever. If a kid wants to wash my car or pull weeds for the same amount of money, terrific. I want a benefit for what I buy and I want the kids to earn it without expecting a hand-out. (That said, I’ll still direct my own kids to start their fundraising by going to all the people who sent their kids to pester me over the years. Guilt works both ways!)

Thank you for reading!  The complete version of this article is now included in Give Your Life Direction.