These days I have a sticky note on each of my two To Do lists (one is for work and one is for music). Lost most people, I can get lost in the weeds and the larger picture can escape me when trying to accomplish tasks on my To Do list. The day can default into the “I have to” grind without remembering why I’m doing what I’m doing. This week, the stickies are helping me remember the larger purpose behind my tasks.
On the work list the sticky says, “This is in service of…” And it’s up to me to fill in the blank at the moment. Work can be pretty demanding, with endlessly looming deadlines and lots of grunt work to move a project along. When I can name what an action such as writing an email is in service of, it helps. Sometimes I remember the original reason why I designed the program I’m working on, or why I’m in this field, or what the money I’ll receive will pay for – mortgage, food, gas, and from that the sweetness of a life I’ve built for example.
On the music list there’s a question: “What is this in relationship to?” I can get pulled away from my original mission in music to just get better for getting better’s sake. There’s a feeling that I should just be better than I am for no apparent reason. Or I’ll unconsciously try to work on music like crazy to avert some imminent disaster I’ve conjured in my head. If I can place my practicing music into the relationship of finding a way to deepening my relationship to joy, to beauty and to connecting with people through the feeling behind the notes, I’m in a much better place.
These stickies don’t always help of course, but even if they help once, they’re worth me having written them down. How would you like to remember the purpose behind a task on your to do list today?