I’m a huge fan of to-do lists.
I scribble them in my nearest notebook whenever I need to plan something, I have them saved in my phone, I jot down my obligations on the backs of receipts, bank statements, and anywhere else with enough blank space. And I like to go above and beyond my daily duties. When I start writing a to-do list, I suddenly feel super ambitious.
Maybe tomorrow, I’ll wake up and go for a run first thing in the morning. Maybe tonight, I’ll set aside a few hours and work on that piece I’ve been dying to write. Maybe I’ll actually chill out and do some yoga before bed. I number everything neatly, certain that I’ll accomplish it all. The possibilities become endless.
Lately, I’ve noticed that so many of the things on my list that I really, really want to do…never get crossed out.
All those promises I made to myself the day before suddenly feel like too much work or a waste of time. Sure, my body would feel great if I rolled out my yoga mat or laced up my sneakers, but maybe I should spend that time working on assignments instead. And as much I would love to find time to write for myself, there’s always laundry to be done and dishes to be washed and carpets to be vacuumed, and maybe that piece won’t turn out as well as I imagined, anyway.
I was pushing everything I loved to the backburner and justifying it. Whenever the opportunity rolled around to do something just for me, just because, I didn’t show up. I hung back. I hesitated, I made excuses, I neglected myself.
Life is not short. Contrary to the popular saying, life is long. Long enough to live in different cities and meet hundreds of people and spend hours sipping tea and laughing about the good old days. Long enough to learn new languages and travel the world and earn a degree (or two). Long enough to get married and have children and then watch them live out their lives.
Life is just long enough that we always feel like we’ll have more time, and just short enough to prove us wrong.
So we waste our days scrolling through social media or binge watching Netflix whenever boredom strikes. We work too many hours at jobs we couldn’t care less about-sometimes to pay the bills, sometimes for the status symbol. We feel pressure to say yes to so many things we don’t want, and when it’s finally time to take on the things we DO want, we let the moment pass us by.
We’re not ready. We’re not good enough. We’ll have another chance later.
We don’t show up.
But the future belongs to those who show up.
We need to practice showing up for ourselves on a daily basis until it becomes habit, until the idea of putting off something that we’ve been dreaming about is unthinkable. You don’t have to attempt anything dramatic-it begins with those little extra efforts that add up to something meaningful over time.
Maybe for you, this means taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Or cooking for yourself instead of ordering takeout every weekend. Maybe it’s actually sitting down to make that budget you know you should be sticking to, or picking up a book that’s been sitting on your nightstand unopened for months. Or maybe you’re a little like me, and you need to commit to actually writing down all those ideas that have been brewing in your thoughts.
Showing up for yourself might feel uncomfortable at first. You’re going to be pushing yourself out of that space where you’ve been stagnating for so long, just waiting for something to happen to you.
But when you start showing up, every day, and stick with that process, you won’t have to wait anymore-you’ll be making things happen.
Go ahead and make that ambitious to do list. Follow through, show up, and cross it all off, one by one, day after day. And wait for the magic to happen.