I have a friend who is a ‘life coach’ and she gave me a piece of free advice once that has stood me in good stead. It was simply, don’t underestimate the power of lists.
If you want to focus on yourself and define who you are and what you like, make a list. Limit yourself to one choice, favourite colour, book, song, movie, food, piece of jewellery, item of clothing, city in the world etc. If you had to spend six months on a desert island or in the jungle what would your luxury item be. Water? No, that’s cheating, I said luxury. I suspect if you were on a desert island water would be a luxury. What can’t you do without? I mean REALLY do without? Wouldn’t you rather be banished to a dessert island?
Another useful exercise is the pros and cons list. If you have to make a decision and you are procrastinating about setting the date to start thinking about beginning to make that decision, list the pros and cons. Take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. Write ‘pros’ in one column and ‘cons’ in the other. Then write all the goods points in one and the bad points in the other, without thinking or filtering. Just write until you can’t think of anything more and then apply the filters of logic, financial circumstances, consequences etc.
If you’re trying to be creative and the muse is alluding you, try the creative list trick. Write a one word answer at the top of the page and list as many questions as you can think of. Write down the name of a household utensil and then list as many wacky uses for it as you can think of. Write a word that relates to your work, “blood” for crime, “passion” for romance, “guns” for war, “honesty” for drama etc. and write down word association as fast as you can without any filters. All these exercises stimulate creativity.
And the most important lists of all? Goals. When you write them down they become real and achievable. Give yourself a time frame. By the end of the year, by my 55th birthday, before I die etc.
I’m a Virgo and I make lists about lists. I am less structured than I used to be, I do buy things that are not on the grocery list sometimes, I watch a TV programme that is not usual viewing for that evening, I decide that tomorrow at 1pm I am going to do something spontaneous. Seriously, lists work for me. They focus me and I love the feeling of crossing something off a list. Either because I’ve achieved it or because someone else has married him.
So what would I take to a desert island as my luxury item? Simple. A pen and paper.