Ever written a not-to-do list? 5 things that make my list 

By Sarah Cannata

I enjoy writing a good old-fashioned to-do list. While I’d love to say I came up with the idea of drafting a not-to-do list, I won’t lie. I ‘borrowed’ the idea from podcast host Tim Ferris. Am I the only one who finds not doing things much more attractive than doing things?

There comes a time in life when we get fed up. Rather than seeing this as a negative, I feel it’s a good thing because these feelings often allow us to unfold into being who we truly are. (As opposed to being worried about whose Christmas card list we’re going to get banned from.) 

Here are 5 things that make my not-to-list.

#1: Don’t say yes if something is only a maybe

This one has taken a while to sink in. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked to do something and have said yes because it seems like a long way away. Not something I’m going to have to worry about anytime soon. Suddenly, next year gradually becomes next month, which eventually becomes the next day and I’m catapulted into full-on dread mode. This is not a nice way to live. These days, I’m much better at leaning into the power of the pause and feeling into whether I wholeheartedly want to do something. That doesn’t always mean I have the luxury of saying no, but at least I am not entertaining full-body denial mode.

#2: Don’t rob yourself of the joy of writing because you think you’re not a good writer

I hear a variation of this line all the time, “I’d like to write, but I’m not very good at it.” After some prodding and curious enquiry, I often learn that once upon a time, someone (like a teacher or friend) told this person they’re a terrible writer. What is considered quality writing is highly subjective. I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of communications and writing. I’ll guarantee there are people in the world who read my content and think I suck at writing. Does that realisation sting? Of course. Does it stop me from writing? Nope. The beauty of embodied writing is that the quality of the writing has nothing to do with the process and what is gained from writing. At a certain point, if you’ve written for a lifetime like me, you realise you’re not going to be the next Stephen King or Elizabeth Gilbert. And that’s ok in my books.

#3: Don’t fear what must be seen

Now and again, I have an awareness I need to write something out, but I also feel reluctant to do so. Nothing I’ve identified as an issue in my life has ever gone away magically (sadly). Often, if something needs to be addressed, the Universe will go out of its way to force me to at least acknowledge whatever the issue is. Being free to express ourselves and tell others what we need is incredibly important. We can’t expect others to guess what we need or want. I’m not a fan of confrontation, but I have become better at communicating from a place of self-acceptance.

#4: Don’t resist friendships organically falling away

I’m fortunate when it comes to friendships. I have a couple of people in my corner who I can share anything with, and it wouldn’t matter to them. They wouldn’t think differently of me, judge me, or launch into life advice. I can allow these people to see me. Really see me. In the past, I’ve had several what I call ‘situational friendships’. People I’ve bonded with because we work together or share a challenging experience. Eventually, life moves on, and that bond organically falls away. Sometimes it stings when this happens, but it’s no one’s fault. Nothing is gained from forcing a friendship that is done and dusted.

#5: Don’t ever settle

Dream as big as you can. And when you achieve that goal, dream bigger. You are capable of so much more than you realise. We all are. I’ve encountered many people from many different paths in life through embodied writing and embodied processing. (Embodied processing is a body-based approach to working with trauma.) So many people amaze me. Not because they are famous or rich but because they keep going regardless. You deserve to create and live the kind of life you don’t need to escape from.  

Love the idea of having a regular writing practice but have no idea where to start?

Storytelling for the Soul’s Write Your Way to Healing Quick Start Guide has been downloaded over 700 times and is designed to teach busy people like you how to use embodied writing as a healing tool. In just 5 easy-to-follow steps, this PDF arms you with the basics for writing your way to healing and includes writing prompts to get you started. Set aside 10 minutes a day (or whatever you can manage) to write. Download the free PDF.

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