January Checklists

Those of you who know me well know my love of checklists. Checklists are one of the best ways for me to get stuff done. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, checklists bring life back down to size. If I don’t know what to do next, writing out a list of ideas is the best way to get going again.

And January is a great time for me to make lists for the upcoming year and to review lists from before. I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions–I have no extra weight I need to lose–but I do like to plan stuff out. If I don’t make a plan, I won’t get anything done. With a plan, the potential for getting things done rises from zero dramatically.

As you can imagine, not nearly all my boxes get checked in a year or a month or day, but many of them do. Progress. I love the feeling of progress, even if it’s small. Honestly, sometimes when I’m feeling really blue, I’ll make a checklist of all the things I managed to accomplish that day or week and check them all off. Then I’m ready to go again.

I do make my checklists, especially the big-picture ones, with the principle of “Lord willing” as my guide. I know I can’t see into the future, and I know we are not to worry about tomorrow, but it is healthy to plan and to hope. It gives purpose and direction where otherwise there may be only confusion.

This past year I found I was not making nearly as many lists as years before. There were so many new things happening all at once that I didn’t know how to plan. It is hard to explain how disorienting and discouraging that was for me at times. I decided to simply quit making plans. I can’t be disappointed if I have no expectations, right?

That didn’t work. I felt lost, unmoored. I was on the sea, and I was sailing, but I didn’t have my bearings. So I came back to my lists. Obviously, I always had the Lord in those times. Writing things out is merely a thought tool that is helpful for me. It’s a way to bring focus and clarity, a way to hear what God is trying to tell me, actually.

Checklists aren’t magical, but they’re powerful. So I thought I’d share some of what’s on my lists now. Maybe a year from now, if the Lord hasn’t taken us home, we can look back over them and enjoy where the journey has taken us in the meantime.

P.S. One rule of resolutions is not to share them because then your brain thinks you’ve already accomplished the resolution and quits remembering to do it. I don’t know if checklists work the same way or not.

P.P.S No, this is not my entire list. Only God gets to see that.

  • Body
    • Exercise daily
    • Walk outdoors daily
    • Follow morning routine
    • Average eight hours of sleep
  • Mind
    • Read Bible and pray to start day
    • Read fifteen minutes daily
    • Journal daily
    • Write something two to three times a week
    • Write and follow daily checklist
  • Personal
    • Post a blog one to seven times per week
    • [REDACTED]
    • [REDACTED]
  • Relationships
    • Make one more close friend in Izcuchaca
    • Monthly phone call to ministry Stateside
    • Visit with someone local every week
  • Family
    • Be phone-free between supper and bedtime
    • Do chores as a group
    • Praise each one daily
  • Church
    • Write a sermon in Spanish without using Google translate
    • Start a weekly Bible study
    • Grow the Bible study to half a dozen people
    • Increase Sunday morning attendance to half a dozen
  • Money
    • Find a local job that is around twenty hours per week
    • Do remote editing jobs on the side
    • Raise goats and ducks as sideline income