Every Sunday evening I used to write a to-do list for the week ahead. It was usually about 30 items long, and not once did I ever get to the bottom of it. After a many weeks of failing to complete all the tasks on my list, I noticed myself getting disheartened. I judged myself for falling short, for failing, for not being good enough.
One Sunday, I decided to stop doing and start being. I realized that life isn't about what we should do, or ought to do, or have to do. It’s not about what we’ve got to do, what we’re supposed to do, or what we’re expected to do. What’s really important is who we are and who we want to become. My "to-be" list was born!
A ‘"to-be" list is different from a "to-do" list. It isn’t an action plan to be worked through, ticked off, and moved on from. A to-be list is about focusing on the qualities we want to nurture in ourselves, then choosing to live them each week, each day, each moment ...
Being is a process. We'll never be finished being openhearted or emotionally self-sufficient. You can't be finished being fully present. Being isn’t about achieving or accomplishing. Being is learning about ourselves, nourishing our spirit, and making a conscious decision of who we want to be.
Here are three reasons to write a to-be list:
1. We're human beings, not human doings.
Society expects us to be human doings — to work, to earn, to achieve. We begin to define ourselves by our jobs, by our hobbies, by what we do on a day-to-day basis. It natural to introduce ourselves by our professions, completely ignoring the "being" part of our humanity — who we actually are.
When we embrace life as a human "being" we can move deeper than our job title and our social identity. We see ourselves not just as a teacher, but as a caring, dedicated, passionate person who teaches. We see that we are more than just yogis — we are strong, powerful, loving beings who practice yoga. Human doings are limited to our activities and achievements. Human beings are limitless.
2. Being is enough.
Many of us feel guilty if we're not crossing something off our to-do list. When there's laundry to be done, meals to be cooked, emails to be sent, phone calls to be made, kids to be fed, and dogs to be walked, we feel guilty to just be. We feel that when we’re not doing, or giving, or achieving, we're wasting time.
But who you are is more important than what you do, and just being is a necessary and productive part of life. You may have a wonderful career, a busy social life, and an array of hobbies, but without taking time to be it will never be enough. We may never do enough. But we'll always be enough.
3. Being encourages us to think about what kind of person we want to be.
Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to do for work, what we want to do at the weekend, what we want to do in our gym session … but we give very little time to who we want to be. Only by becoming aware of our current state of being do we have the power to change it and to grow.
We may be fearful, or impatient, or reactive, and only by becoming aware of these negative states, can we explore more positive ones that will leave us feeling empowered rather than defeated. We can choose to be grateful, confident, and peaceful. We can choose to be grounded, fearless, and tolerant.
By bringing awareness to the person we currently are, we can transform any destructive states into constructive ones, let go of limits or judgments that are holding as back, and be the person we're capable of becoming.