That Annual To Do List

What is your To Do list for January? Put another way, what New Year’s Resolution are you planning to make for 2017? Are they new, or are you clearing the backlog of the usual suspects – exercise regularly, lose weight, go on a diet, quit smoking… Can your New Year’s Resolutions be life transforming? Here are some thought-provoking questions you can introspect upon before you jot down your resolutions for 2017:
What is the title of your autobiography?
Ask yourself, “What is the title of my autobiography, and what would it be if I continue to do the things I am doing?” Are you happy with these titles? Are the two in sync or is there a discrepancy? Reflecting on the present and future titles of your autobiography is a good exercise in catharsis. If there is a huge difference between what the title is and what you would like it to be, your New Year’s Resolutions could be steps you should be taking towards writing this new autobiography. Another way to look at this thought experiment is to introspect if you are living your life for your bio-data, which is usually only success oriented, or have you also considered what your epitaph would be?
What if you were to win a £20 million lottery?
But concurrently your doctor informs you that you have only three years to live. What will you do in the three years you have left? Cryopreserving your body till such time they find a cure for your dreaded disease is a possibility but we are looking at a more practical approach! Reflecting on this question brings clarity to what is most important to you. And, to really figure out the top priorities of your life you can imagine the time you have left to be shorter – one year, three months, 48 hours! These priorities could then become the drivers for your New Year’s Resolutions.
What if you were the only human on Earth?
Imagine, you are the only human on planet Earth. What will you do with your life? Of course, your first priority will be arranging nutrition, shelter from the elements, and safety from predators. Assume that to sort these bodily needs you only need a couple of hours of daily work and you still have the regular life span of a healthy human (80-100 years). What will you do all your life? The objective of this thought experiment is to look at your life through a non-comparative lens, which we humans are usually incapable of, and as a result, we set goals in life that make us feel better in comparison to someone else instead of setting goals that will make us truly joyful. As American humourist, HL Mencken, remarked – a happy man earns $100 more than his wife’s sister’s husband!
Finally, any To Do list works only if you simultaneously also create a Stop-Doing List.
Happy New (Resolutions) Year!

Atul Pant