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by Sara Luther
with all due respect...

…the “didn’t do list” matters

I was on LinkedIn recently to see what everyone has been up to and there was lots to celebrate.

Posts that started with “So excited to share with you….” Or “It was great to present at…” Or “I’m so honoured to accept [insert award] …” Or “I’m looking forward to spending time with…

And I wondered to myself, how are you all doing this?

Then I went down the rabbit hole of 15 follow up questions.

Including…in order to make those things happen, what didn’t you do? What was the compromise? The sacrifice? What fell of your plate? Got no attention? Was minimized? Who did you disappoint (if anybody)? Would you do it different next time?

I want to know the whole story!

Then I reflected on my recent days and realized where this line of questioning was coming from.

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here’s the combination of my “DID” and “DIDN’T DO” lists for the last week(ish):

    1.   Went to a conference on Wellness in the Legal Profession, but, didn’t exercise.
    2.   Prioritized a new client’s “urgent” needs, but, didn’t follow through for a long-standing client.
    3.   Spoke about how important it is to say hello, but, was too busy to do it when I saw someone I knew on the street.
    4.   Ensured there were refreshments for the session participants but didn’t drink any water.
    5.   Celebrated a colleague; but, held back sharing how much they mean to me as a friend.   
    6.   Thought about wonderful people I’d like to reconnect with, but didn’t do anything about it.
    7.   Told my kids I loved them, but, didn’t make time to cuddle.

When you see this side-by-side, there’s insights and appreciations.  It can also illuminate if what we are/are not doing aligns with how we want to be in the world. Looking at my list, you’ll see I have some grappling to do.

So, I’m committed to starting a new practice of honouring the whole day, the full week, the complete story.  We make choices, prioritize, go places, and hopefully do great things.  And, I believe these can be best appreciated if we acknowledge the “didn’t do” or “didn’t show up as” list at the same time.

My dad told me when I was young, I could do, and be, anything I wanted.  But I’ve learned I can’t do it all at the same time.  Nor, will I always live up to my own expectations of how I want others to experience me.

Let’s not ignore that speaking at a great conference didn’t come at the cost of not having dinner with your family.  Or, that saying kindness is easy ensures we are always kind – with ease (wishful thinking!).  This isn’t about complaining or inciting pity from others.  Instead, a transparent, full story enables us to see the humanness in our lives. The DIDN’T DO” list is a rich database to explore and may help nudge us to rethink the “TO DO” list.

I guarantee this week is being infused by those reflections.  Cuddles are moving up to priority #1.

Does my “didn’t do list” resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear from you.  Reach out to me at saraluther@forwardworking.ca.

Boldly share what you DIDN’T DO, I promise you’re in good company!