My “To-Not-Do” List

More often than not, it’s harder to define what you want in your life than what you do not want. To-do list is overrated.

After I wrote a previous article about what I want in my 24-year-old life, I honestly still haven’t figured out what an “ideal life” looks like for me. Maybe that “ideal life” doesn’t exist at all. The truth is that life is fluid and it’s changing all the time, so am I. It’s almost impossible to accurately forecast what will make us happy in the future, as we’re often projecting what we want now into what we might want in the future, often forgetting that the “future me” is different from the “present me”. There is an entire book telling you why it’s like that (That book is Stumbling on Happiness.) So I might have just been focusing on the wrong thing by trying to define what an “ideal life” should be.

Instead, I am thinking about what I don’t want to do in my life, and it’s relatively easier to come up with that list. Thus, this post is dedicated to my “To-Not-Do” list, instead of the to-do list. My top 3 items on the list are:

1. I don’t want to waste my time procrastinating

I was going to say “I don’t want to waste my time not doing anything”, but then I realized it’s not accurate, as “not doing anything” does not always equal to “wasting time”. Life shouldn’t be about “doing things” all the time, it’s better to not do anything than doing the wrong kind of things. As Laura Riding wrote,

The wrong kind of doing is doing that people do not for comfort or fun but in order to prove to themselves and to other people that they are people. Of course, the only kind of people that people of this sort could impress would be people like them, who wished to seem people in a general way although they weren’t particularly speaking people. In a place where most of the people were like this the object of life would be busyness. And, dear Catherine, this is the way the world is. Only a small part of the doings in it are done for comfort or fun. The rest is just showing-off.

What I mean by “wasting my time” is closer to “procrastinating” or not doing anything when I know exactly what I want and should do. If I’m just relaxing and really enjoying myself when I’m not “doing”, I don’t consider it as a waste of time. However, if I’m putting important things off by staying in bed for extra long hours or watching boring TV shows, and actually feel worse after I spend time doing those, I’d consider them as a waste of time.

2. I don’t want to “put up with it” when I am feeling unhappy about the current situation

More often than now, people decide to stay exactly where they are and not to change when they are supposed to make some changes in order to be in a better place. They choose not to change because they feel safer that way. That’s exactly what I want to avoid because it’s one of the most common trap that prevents people from getting into a better place. The fear of change is often fake. Once you take a step forward and jump, more often than not you will land in a much better place, as long as you can somewhat limit the downside.

A lot of good things happened in my life after I became frustrated with certain life situations and decided to change. Those changes might seem to be very hard at the very beginning, but once you act upon them, you will see a brand new world with new opportunities ahead of you.

3. I don’t want to stay where I am, not making any progress

Life is fluid and it’s changing all the time. I want to explore as much as I can and get closer to truth and knowledge, instead of staying exactly where I am feeling stuck in “the same me” without making any progress. We only have limited time in our life, and I’d want to spend that time explore as far as I can possibly go.

I believe by keeping those 3 “to-not-dos”  in mind and constantly reminding myself not to do them, I’ll be able to at least keep myself on the right track. Maybe that’s the secret of how to get closer to the “ideal life” 🙂

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