Lists have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Most recently as we got ready for retirement, I made several lists. One was about finances, another was the invite list for the retirement celebration party. Actually there were several parties, so several lists. Another big list covered possible things to do with all that extra time after work was no longer part of the picture.
One of the items on the activities list was “write a blog.” For me, a thought becomes real once written down. Mere thoughts or spoken words aren’t enough. Saying it out loud for God to hear doesn’t nail it to my memory. That was good enough for the Biblical Israelites, but not for me. Adding that little item to my list two years ago planted a seed for me. It had been ignored for over a year. Then one day last spring the thought germinated. Guess what I did with that? I made another list. That became the list in the photo, and then this blog.
An earlier list proved to be a major turning point in my career. Our project at work was in the toilet. We weren’t making any progress. There were no obvious solutions. For whatever reason, the boss put a bunch of us mid-level engineers in a room and told us to figure out a plan. None of the senior people were part of the meeting. I think they maybe had given up? Remember the scene in the movie Apollo 13 when some nerd said “Failure is not an option.”? Well, failure was an option here, and it wouldn’t be pleasant, not as bad as losing an astronaut crew, but bad.
The discussion went around in circles for an hour or two. No progress. Eventually my frustration exceeded my shyness and I walked to the chalk board (chalk board!?) and started making a list of what we needed to do to get the project back on track. Over the next year, that list turned into a plan to save the project, a new role for me, then a promotion and an appointment to management. The list / plan wasn’t perfect, but it got people to think progress was possible, and it jump started my career.
For well over twenty years Judy and I did formal New Year’s Resolutions lists with friends. Those lists served us well, they were constant reminders throughout the year that we had committed actions to our friends, and we’d have to report on our progress at our gathering next January. Judy and I still make those lists and challenge each other.
Many other times lists have served me well. They have become an ingrained habit that works. Without a list my little brain spins, running through the same issues over and over, usually at two o’clock in the morning when we all want to sleep. Simply writing down the problem statement in list form, probably with several actions to take, stops that mindless repetition. Then I expand on a few list items so that each item is easier. I can do that!
Oh, there’s one more list I’ve been working on. In the biography I started in the early 1990’s there is a list of over 200 stories to share with you all. How do I prioritize that list? Any stories you’d like to hear?