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Life is not a to-do list

Leave your comfort zone, define your fears, commit to learning, and discover your growth. That’s what life is about.

I started writing this insight when the world still seemed to be sort of normal.

I have a folder with topics and draft posts that I regularly update when I get inspired by an interesting topic.

After I write my first sentences down, I continue if the words flow immediately or pause if I want the topic to evolve a little.

I wrote this title when I overheard somebody bragging about his to-do list as if the way he managed it was the best thing to keep his life in order.

I added the quote underneath to my draft, and then I left it for what it was for some days.

In the meantime, the world has changed, and so have many to-do lists.

To the point that I’m deeply disturbed and concerned about where this world is headed.

Which gives the following quote even more meaning.

“We regret the things we didn’t do more than the things we do.”

Mark Twain

If you connect these words of Mark Twain to the title of this insight, there’s a probability I may have confused you.

The quote suggests you should do things, while my title suggests you should not live by a to-do list.

To clarify, let me start by adding the words of his quote that are not very often shown:

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Life is just too short.

The events of the last week are a painful reminder of this once again.

At least for me.

My to-do list in the title refers to a calendar filled with stuff that needs to be done to keep plowing along.

Planning. Calendar. Action. Responsibility. Accountability. Performance. Next day, week, month, quarter, year.

To do’s that have very little to do with “Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Those to-dos are not what life is about. Those are small do’s. What I’m talking about here are the BIG dos.

“Explore. Dream. Discover.” YES.

“Throw off the bowlines.” YES.

“Sail away from the safe harbor.” YES.

That’s what life is about. Leave your comfort zone, define your fears, commit to learning, and discover your growth.

“We regret the things we didn’t do more than the things we do.”

Life is not a to-do list.

Yes, I know there’s always context, and writing those words down is “easier said than done.”

But that’s why pausing and getting clear on your purpose in life is so important.

Life can change in a second without you having anything to do with it.

So it’s essential to ask yourself regularly if what you’re doing contributes to your purpose.

And if it doesn’t and you’re off for too long, you need to make a change.

I know I’ve been beating this drum for a while, but I believe it’s good to remind ourselves.

Your turn: what’s something you would regret if you didn’t do it now?

Do more of what makes you happy!

Erikjan

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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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