Staring at My To-Do List

I have a habit of looking at my to do list quite often.  I pick out things that I feel like doing and I do them.  I see lots of other things that I don’t feel like doing and I figure that I will do them when I feel like doing them.  The list grows as things get added and some of the new things get done while some of the old things remain, as I wait for the inspiration required to do them.  This is true at work and home alike.

I think back a few years when I was a runner.  I always hated running until one day, after losing a lot of weight, when I decided to try to run one lap around the Georgia Tech track.  I couldn’t do it.  But I didn’t get discouraged.  I kept going back, day after day, and was eventually able to run a mile.  Running became a habit.  I would run every day and eventually ran a 5K.  Then I found a training schedule for a 10K and I followed it and ran a 10K.  Same thing with a half marathon and even a marathon.  Being able to complete the races was not the big accomplishment.  Being able to lace up the shoes and run in the rain, heat, cold, whether I felt like it or not, that was the big accomplishment.

So how can I translate this motivation or discipline to my to-do list?  I read an interesting article entitled  How to Do the Work You Really Don’t Want to Do by Adrian Granzella Larssen.   The author quotes Heidi Grant Halvorson as follows:

“Somewhere along the way, we’ve all bought into the idea—without consciously realizing it—that to be motivated and effective we need to feel like we want to take action. We need to be eager to do so… Yes, on some level you need to be committed to what you are doing—you need to want to see the project finished, or get healthier, or get an earlier start to your day. But you don’t need to feel like doing it.

In fact…many of the most prolific artists, writers, and innovators have become so in part because of their reliance on work routines that forced them to put in a certain number of hours a day, no matter how uninspired (or, in many instances, hungover) they might have felt.”

So it doesn’t take motivation or inspiration.  It takes a plan or a routine.  Just like my running schedule.  I had a plan which became a routine.  There were days when it hurt just to walk but I was out there running.  Personally, I believe that there needs to be a goal attached to the plan, such as completing a marathon, or losing 25 pounds, or exercising 3 days a week.  So, even if my goal is to get those to-dos off of my to list, that should be enough.  One of the things on my to-do list was to write a blog article today.  Done!


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