October 13, 2015

Expectations are the Devil: Why I’m Throwing my “To Do” Lists Away.

My five year high school reunion was this summer and I’m still having recurring nightmares about it.

I’ve been dreaming that something was wrong with my diploma and I needed to go back to those dusty, soul-draining halls.

I graduated college over a year ago and I still wake up terrified that I’m late for a final.

Last month, I got my yoga teacher certification and I’m having dreams that I still have homework to turn in.

I just can’t escape this feeling that I’m behind or that I’ve done something so wrong that it’s just not possible for me to reach my dreams.

During the daylight hours, I make lists. I have about three beside me on my desk even as I type this. They’re not just grocery lists, but they’re papers full of things I wish I’d done, need to do, and things I want to do if I have time after everything else is done.

But nothing ever gets done.

I’ll make more lists tomorrow and half of the stuff on it will have transferred over from today’s list.

Nothing is ever done.

Nothing is ever good enough.

Nothing is working for me.

I have all of these hopes and dreams, wishes and lofty goals. I wish I was debt-free and back on that beach in Nicaragua walking barefoot in the sand and watching the sky turn a dozen different colors as the sun set. I wish I was making someone smile. I wish I was changing the world. I wish I was jumping back in my Ashtanga practice like a ninja (aka, my teacher). I wish I could put both of my legs behind my head like Kino. I wish…

I wish my to-do list would stop yelling at me as I dream.

We all have expectations of how our lives should be. I have a five year plan, though I can honestly say that I am not anywhere near where I thought I’d be five years ago. So, why do I make those kind of lists?

Things change.

Life happens.

Sh*t happens!

We change our minds about what we want.

We get injured or sidetracked or inspired to do something new or crazy—like going to Nicaragua to get our yoga teacher training instead of a boring office job.

We have expectations.

We have dreams.

But, none of it really matters.

So, please tell me, why do I make these lists?

Please, I’m begging you, take away my pen and paper to stop me from making more.

I have those dreams about failing or being late, because I truly believe that I am running behind.

I am not where I should be at this point in my life. And, if I’m being honest, part of me thinks I’m running in no real direction. I’m just going in circles—or worse, I’m stuck in one spot.

But I’m not.

Logically, I know I’m not.

I’ve traveled to many different countries. I’m certified to do what I love most. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, and a dog to hug. I may not be winning a Nobel or making a lot of money, but I make people smile. At the very least, I hope I’m making people think. What more could I ask for?

We can’t get the important things in life—the things that matter—from checking off anything on a list, anyway.

We can only get the important things in life—the things that matter—when we actually experience them.

Expectations are set in the future.

Our [perceived] failures are set in the past.

Life is now.

So let’s forget the list and go live.


Relephant read:

Today’s Mantra: F*ck Writing Lists. {Adult language}


Author: Stacy Porter

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Images: Authors’s own


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