A couple of years ago, Liz (a friend of mine) and I, while out for drinks celebrating my birthday, started talking about “To Do Lists”. Not “to do” like: “Pick up dry cleaning” or “Pay bills”. More like: Things we felt we HAD to accomplish before we shuffled off this mortal coil. We got so into it, that we wrote them all down on a sheet of loose-leaf (which I still have, and which I am looking at right now.)
After this enlightening exercise, Liz mentioned that there were some things that she felt she never had to do. These were decidedly random, and also – things that a lot of people would LOVE to do. But Liz was saying No to these things. She never felt she had to go into outer space, she never felt that she had to go to a desert country in the Middle East, she also never felt that she had to waterski. She had made it this far in her life without waterskiing, or competing in an equestrian event, or ski diving … and she could check those off her list.
So we came up with another idea: creating a “To Don’t” List, comprised of things which we never felt like we HAD to do. There is sometimes anxiety surrounding “To Do” lists, an urgency, an anxiety … Before I die I MUST see the Great Wall of China!! Etc. We felt that compiling lengthy lists of things we felt we NEVER HAD TO DO could be empowering. And it was. It was also hilarious.
Obviously, much controversy arose. I would mention something I felt like I never had to do, and Liz would freak out, saying, “Oh, but it’s so FUN! You’re missing out!!”
Too bad! I still don’t EVER have to do it. There’s a freedom in that. There’s a freedom in saying ‘NO’ to something other people may find irresistible.
That is the whole point of the To Don’t List. It is completely personal.
As a matter of fact, there were a couple of things on my “To Do” list which showed up on Liz’s “To Don’t” list. And vice versa.
This is the nature of humanity.
One woman’s dream come true is another woman’s utter shrieking nightmare.
I will list here, for you, the “To Don’t lists” of both Liz and myself. Hopefully it will spark up some rather amusing conversation in the comments.
Are there things you feel you NEVER have to (or want to) do? Remember, most of these things are usually considered fun and amazing by other members of the population – It is just that you, of your own free will, have decided you don’t ever have to experience such pleasures. You are fine without them.
(Oh, and by the way: Grammar nags? I know there is no such thing as “To Don’t” and it’s not correct, grammatically. It just is a catchy phrase and Liz and I enjoyed it.)
Liz’s To-Don’t List
Make an outfit from scratch
Places I never need to visit: Iran, Iraq
Compete in an equestrian event
Go into outer space
Be CEO of a company
Work on Wall Street
See a ghost
Do a Triathalon (Interestingly enough: Since compiling her To Don’t List, Liz has now done the New York Marathon two years in a row – not a Triathalon though!)
My To Don’t List
Teach myself complicated recipes
I don’t need to go to Mexico
I don’t have to go to Disneyworld
Read the works of Agatha Christie (I KNOW, I KNOW – I KNOW she’s great – but life is so short, and there’s so much to read, and I am crossing her off my To Do list)
Sew an outfit or make a scrapbook or do anything craft-like
Become proficient in Power Point
Traipse through a wild jungle
Please comment. Add your own. I’m sure I’ll think of more. It has the potential to be an endless list.