Thursday, October 28, 2010

What I Learned from My 2010 New Year’s Resolution

I have always been a list-maker.  To me, it is simply a natural part of being an organized human being, like having a planner or a box of blank labels.  As a kid, I methodically catalogued each and every one of my stuffed animals (and there were plenty, I assure you).  It was basically a list of their names and a brief description, you know, just in case Floppy fled to Canada and I had to file a Missing Beanie Baby Report.

Today, I keep lists upon lists upon lists.  Some are more useful than others.  There are lists of restaurants I like for brunch, restaurants I like to recommend for dates, restaurants I want to try.  Then there’s a list of jobs to apply for eventually.  A list of books I want to read.   And of course, The To Do List.  Naturally, I don’t have any old ordinary to do list.   My to dos are separated out into errands that I can definitely run when I have downtime at work (CVS), errands that I could possibly run if I have a LOT of downtime at work (Saks), errands that I have to run on weekends (ikea), household items I need to get (swiffer refills), groceries I’ve run out of (olive oil), things to ask others (get gyno rec from Jane), things that I want to look up on the internet (population of Vermont) and things that I want to buy but will require some comparison shopping (tan boots).  Just reading my list of lists (which doesn’t even cover all of my lists) stresses me out.

The great thing about lists is that I don’t worry that I’ll forget something.  The bad thing about lists is that I don’t forget anything.  I am constantly reminded that there are all of these things that I need to do, get, try.

Now, my 2010 resolution had nothing to do with ridding myself of lists.  My resolution was to stop buying kitchen accessories.   I realized I had a problem when I bought a corn stripper and stuck it in my gadget drawer next to a cake tester, mushroom brush and melon baller.

Looking back, I began to realize just how much time I wasted unintentionally shopping for kitchen gadgets.  Because of that damn “To get for kitchen” list that was always stored in my phone, every time I passed a kitchen supply store – even the Williams-Sonoma that I passed at least weekly – I had to go in.   I’d pluck out my BlackBerry and peruse the store for items that I could potentially erase from the “To get for kitchen” list.  Four out of five times, I’d decide I just couldn’t justify spending $40 on a box grater or $200 on a stand-mixer and leave the store empty-handed.  Stand-mixer has been on my “To get for kitchen” list for at least 5 years now.

So on January 1, 2010, I deleted the “To get for kitchen” list from my phone.  It was strangely liberating to know that it wasn’t there anymore.   That I couldn’t access it when I walked into a kitchen store.   Looking new set of red wine glasses no longer seemed like something I needed to do on a Saturday afternoon.  I still went into kitchen stores every now and then to admire, but at some point, my former preoccupation with kitchen gadgets started to fade.  The last time I went into a kitchen store, I got through the portal and walked back out.  Why was I in there?  I couldn’t buy anything anyway (without breaking my resolution) and more importantly, I neither needed nor wanted to buy anything.   Once I let go of my obsession with clearing my “To get for kitchen” list, I had one less idle obsession occupying my time.

I worry some about becoming too set in my own ways, of getting into a habit of doing things and not really knowing why I’m doing them (like walking into every kitchen store I pass).  I worry about becoming too preoccupied with the list itself rather than focusing on what’s really important or necessary on that list.  I could probably draw some deeper parallel here to relate it to the general theme of my writings here, but I’d rather not right now.   My point is really just this: getting rid of my “To get for kitchen list” was just one small step toward letting go of obsessions that bring more bad than good into my life.

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