The List

Oct 22nd 2008

Last weekend I talked at Calvary about being “with God.”  Talked about two steps to being with God; learning to listen and practicing gratitude. Talked about two very practical steps, take a media fast and make a gratitude list. So here is the thought that I’ve been thinking the last couple of days.  It’s somewhat of a combination of the ideas of fasting and lists.

No — I’m not talking about fasting from lists, although that might not be a bad idea for some of us.

I’m talking about making a “Not To-Do List.”

Jim Collins uses this exercise.  He calls it the 20-10 assignment.  It goes like this: Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you STOP doing?

It’s kind of the opposite of the day-dream question, “If you had a day to do absolutely anything you wanted to do, what would you do?” Instead the question is, if there is anything in your life that you would stop doing if you could stop doing it — what would you stop doing?  I know…about 90% of the people reading this post are filling their list with things like toilet cleaning, cooking for kids that complain about eating, paying the bills, and my job.

I realize there are some things we can’t put on our NOT-To-Do list…at least not at the moment.  Though the reality is that if your job comes to mind as the thing you would quit doing if you could quit doing anything — maybe you should start looking for a different job.  But enter into the assignment with the right heart.  What can I consistently stop doing, that will give me time to do stuff that really matters.

Sure you could stop cleaning the toilet, but how much time will that really open up.  Sure you could stop cooking for the kids, but they would die.  Sure you could stop paying the bills, but then you would have time but not the ability to do what you want — it’s called jail!  But what can you put on your NOT-To-Do list that will truly give you time to do what matters.

Because the reality is that time is one of our most valuable resources.  It is a treasure, that the stockmarket cannot diminish.

So, take some time.  Make a list.  Make a NOT-To-Do list.

I know.  Some of