3 Reasons Why I Upgraded from a To-Do List to a To-Be List 

By Ganteng Boy


Often times in life, it is far easier to get involved with our day to day lives. Remember to pay the bills on time, to sign up for that yoga class, to confirm the online invitation for that wedding later in the year, to call Mom and let her know that you love her, etc. The last one was actually really important. Never forget to call Mom.

Our lives have become one giant To-Do list. And for me, it got to the point where two years ago, I felt frustrated that some things on my To-Do list never got completed. It may have been that I forgot to do it, or that it wasn’t high enough on my priority list, regardless, I felt mad at myself for not completing the task at hand. It made me realize how shallow my life became – structuring activities around a never ending To-Do list, to only gain satisfaction when the box on the list was ticked off. 

And so I did away with To-Do lists, and started a new chapter in my life with a To-Be list. 

How is a To-Be List different than a To-Do List?

  1. A To-Be List is more strategic: A To-Do List is more immediate. A To-Be list focuses on what type of person you want to become in the next 6 months to 36 months. Take a minute, close your eyes and imagine how your future self would feel like if you got whatever it is that you wanted to accomplish – whether it is getting that new job, graduating from school, getting that promotion, paying off for your parent’s vacation, etc.  It’s important to be intimate with that feeling of finally accomplishing that goal. By associating that feeling to each point on your To-Be List, it makes it that much more concrete and real. 
  2. A To-Be List challenges you at a deeper level: A To-Do List challenges you at the surface. I know that we like to think that we are perfect human beings, and that it isn’t the norm to think of ourselves as failures. But with a To Be List, I challenge you to think about the last big failure in your life. Try to understand how your personality/character trait might have impeded you from being successful at that goal. For me, it was my last relationship. I was not bold enough to walk away, when it was apparent that the relationship was coming to an end. Long story short, I waffled and pandered to my immediate emotional needs. Both sides got hurt. I acknowledge that this was a character flaw on my part. And so, I wanted to address it. I haven’t quite figured out exactly how I am going to re-build my confidence; the fun part is actually seeing where life takes me. But what I am certain about is that I am going to remind myself and actively seek to improve this specific part about my character. It starts with a sticky note on my bathroom mirror. 
  3. A To-Be List gives purpose: A To-Do List gives a sense of accomplishment. By now I think I have made myself clear. A To Be List comprises of your most challenging tasks. Unlike a To-Do List, a task on the To-Be List often times can’t be done in one day, or even one week. If they can, then it really isn’t a task that should be on the To-Be List. Change is tough. It takes time. The ultimate goal of a To-Be List is to remind yourself of the change that you want to see in yourself. 

I can tell you this much: to finally tick the box on my To-Be List is far more satisfying than to tick the box on my To-Do List. Drinking water and getting a foot rub after running a full marathon (26.2 miles) is far more rewarding than to drink water and get a foot rub after running 2 miles. 

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