I am recalling a flight to DC a few years ago. (Remember when we complained about the airlines? I even miss the airport.) So on this flight to DC, my older daughter and I got the idea from somewhere to write an “anti-bucket list.” This is the opposite of the ever popular bucket list, in which we are supposed to catalog all of the things we want to do in the this life and then not do any of them.
So we thought, what if we write down all of the things that we are sure we will never do, to get them out of the way? I fear we made a bit of a scene when we got laughing too hard. Here are a few things that we added to the list:
- Take up smoking
- Buy a motorcycle
- Learn how to ski
- Get a law degree
- Climb a mountain
- Walk across a suspension bridge made of rope (this one is just mine)
- Jump out of an airplane (daughter #1 has reserved her options on this one but as she is soon to be a mother I am fairly confident on this)
- Scuba dive through underwater caves
- Anything to do with caves, really.
I’ve been thinking lately about all of the planning that needs to be done to keep our local governments on track, rebuilt, and thriving again after the pandemic. Like many of you, I am overwhelmed by the effort to simply get through the day given the financial crisis impacting our budgets, the difficult and meaningful work of examining our structures through an equity lens, and meeting constantly about COVID testing and vaccinations (rinse, repeat). We need more head space to think clearly.
I often turn to one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers, Mel Robbins, for simple and practical ways to confront problems. In her YouTube video “How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed Right Now” Robbins asserts that being overwhelmed is nothing more than having a full brain. Her solution for clearing space is a “brain dump.” She suggests that we write down our to-do lists, worries, plans, ideas, etc. Doing this every morning can help us prioritize tasks and plan our days. More importantly for me, I find that if a task or idea is written down in a place where I know I can find it (fellow notebook lovers, you know who you are), then I can let it go for a while and concentrate on what needs to be done immediately.
I wonder if creating an anti-bucket list for local government will help? Even if it just makes me laugh it is worth it. Here is a sample of things I have committed not to do:
- Click on a link in an email from a foreign country
- Approve only the highest bidder
- Fall asleep during a cable TV license hearing
- Go back to wearing stockings
- Run for political office
- “Fight City Hall”
- Pull a fire alarm.
Practicing the daily brain dump and laughing about a work-related anti-bucket list got me thinking about the sheer magnitude of what we are trying to accomplish. I now resolve to do nothing new until FY22. That’s catchy enough to be our mantra for the winter and spring! Are you with me?
How about you? What would be the first thing you put on your anti-bucket list? Do you have any strategies for clearing space for thoughtful work? Let’s practice – notebook(s) in hand.