AAAAHH lists. How I love you.
You help my grocery store runs, my daily productivity, and even my gratitude abounds with you around. I could sing your praises for hours.
This post, though, is not about my affection for lists. This is about reminding us all that life doesn’t exist within the internet, and that words are not the same as action.
Let me first make a confession: I’m clickbait’s best friend; I’m a sucker for lists, and oh I how I wish life was a simple, easy to understand formula, so “32 ways to savor your children while they’re young” and “15 ways to declutter your digital folders” get me 99.9% of the time. These are actual articles I have saved in my Facebook right now.
Recently though (last night), I read something about business that smacked me upside the head in regards to my longing for easy-to-digest, quaint lists. The basic premise was that a young female entrepreneur had essentially said, ‘Nobody prepared me for growing my business. I had no real resources, and pretty much had to figure it out on my own, one day at a time.’ (highly paraphrased from an interview out of this fabulous book:)
This got me to thinking about how many things in life I’ve done and just figured out with no instructions, no lists, no tidy paint by number process. Let me be even clearer- I realized I’ve figured out everything in my life that matters without instructions, lists, or step-by-step directions. From nurturing a marriage to giving birth to my daughter, from starting a business to hiring employees, from finding joy to building mental health, every meaningful journey in my life happened naturally and organically with no “7 step plan”.
Sure, I’ve had LOTS of helpful information. Ask literally anyone in The OWN right now about my affection for reading, and you’ll learn that I’m constantly devouring no less than 3 books (2 of which are usually self-help or personal growth) at any given time. I’m a book monger. I’ve also collected plenty of hand out materials from marriage devotionals, birth classes and doula’s (hi Alicia and Meredith!), legal advisors, the SBA, therapists and friends. I have no shortage of “information” in my days, yet when I really take a look into where I’m the strongest in my life, it’s not areas where I’ve read the most “X Number of Steps” articles. It’s the areas of life that I’ve lived out- slowly and painfully practiced- that I’ve grown the most.
I know. I know. Doing the work and putting in the time is the worst. I don’t like it either, so rest assured I have a list of ways to fast track breaking your addictions to lists:
1. Understand deeply that life isn’t a final exam. You don’t have to memorize any lists to “pass”.
2. Nobody knows what they are doing. Seriously. Whether in business or personal achievements, the person you admire most has moments where they think “I’m a total fraud and everyone is going to find out.” or some variation of it. The people I’ve been the most intimidated by have ended up being some of the most comforting and relatable people once I’ve taken them off their throne in my mind and seen them as humans rather than experts. The person who wrote the list you clicked on still doesn’t live that list out roughly 50% of the time. We are all one very large, confused family just trying to find our way to our next meal.
3. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” in life, and mean it. Rather than finding anecdotal information for any challenge that might come up in our lives, be okay that you don’t know it all, and you don’t have an answer for everything. You’re not supposed to. That would be weird. And probably annoying.
4. Know that nothing that deeply matters in life fits neatly into a little square package. Except chocolate.
5. You’re still reading? I don't know then. This list may not have worked at all to break your addiction to lists.
At the end of the day, life is to be lived and experienced and tried, not kept tidy and orderly and every step strategically planned out. Yes, some things in life are to be followed for best results (like making a meringue, what’s the deal with that?), but most of life is more of a dance than a march. Even in business- ask how many OWNers have 100% stuck to the business plan they wrote when they first started. It just doesn’t happen.
If you’re out there living the dream, and finding yourself a little wrung out, looking for answers in online lists, maybe it’s time to come in and chat with us about joining the network. We don't have all the answers, but we get it, and we’re here for you!
See you soon!