A client shared some humorous anecdotes with me about moving into her new house, and one of them stuck in my mind. “I found an old To-Do list in the back of my junk drawer, and you know what? I’ve accomplished everything on that list, even the projects that seemed out of reach to me at the time I wrote it.” Later that week another client said the same thing about one of her old boyfriends. “He was a French pop star and I was completely enamored of him. I put a date with him at the top of my to do list and kept it there for a year. Believe it or not, at the end of that year I was going out with him on a regular basis.”
In today’s fast-paced world many of us create daily to-do lists as a matter of course, to try and stay organized and on top of our lives. How many of us look at those lists casually, dismissing them as wishful thinking? Well, don’t. Try to see your to-do list as statements of intent, less a request than an order form. “This is what I will produce today”, or this week, or next month or this year.
Intention is a powerful tool. Positive, deliberate intent, written down, carried around and re-read frequently possesses the double whammy of intent plus action. You may not see writing something down as action, but it is, and it just may be your first step towards the culmination of a project.
Dr. Martin Luther King once said in his famous speech, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step”. Writing down our intent is the soul equivalent of taking that all-important first step. Maybe you haven’t a clue how to accomplish what you have on your To-Do list. Maybe you have a general outline in your mind but no specifics. Here is where magic comes to play.
In the book “The Magic Power of Deliberate Intent” by Esther and Jerry Hicks, the action of writing down your intention infuses your intent with power because words have power—ask any child. So be mindful. Word the intent on your list in a positive way. Say “I am” instead of “I want to” or “I’ll try”. As Yoda told young Skywalker, “There is no Try. There is only Do.”
My mother used to tell me, “Deborah, always be sure you live in a house with the kitchen sink under a window or you’ll never want to wash your dishes”. I considered those words poignant but old fashioned, an antiquated statement about a woman’s place. In fact, in the 1994 film ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ Muriel’s mother sets fire to a tree outside the window over her kitchen sink. For 20 years she watched that tree get taller and taller while she was stuck in the same place. I understood completely.
Yet as I got older and was faced with a life of renting houses, I found myself discarding choices where the kitchen sink faced a wall in favor of a window of any size over the sink. In this modern age of automatic dishwashers, we don’t spend much time contemplating life from the kitchen sink, or any other place, but we never get away from mundane chores. Mundane chores are a constant in our lives, no matter who we are.
I’ve found I like to use this ‘window-over-the-sink’ trick myself now, or something like it, to make hand-washing my dishes, or peeling shrimp, or loading the dishwasher an enjoyable experience. Now that I’m sort of a grown up and a homeowner, I can bust out any claustrophobic wall or too-small window with confidence. I recently knocked out my ordinary kitchen window and replaced it with a custom ten-foot monster, and I’m here to tell you, it changed my life. Now I get to look out over the Hill Country, let my mind wander and almost like magic, my dishes are done and all’s right in my world.
Now that I’m sort of a grown-up, I see my mother’s kitchen sink advice as an ‘always-take-the long-way-home-style metaphor. I like to find the best view of nature wherever I am because looking at beautiful things makes all mundane chores easier, don’t you think?
When we consider what this life demands of us choosing the prettier commute, or a nicer way to say something, or a window over our sink, can be imperative for our own inner peace. Now that I’m sort of a grown-up, I always try to find the best way to maintain my inner peace, and I’ve found it’s a little easier to do with a view of nature wherever I am. Try it—it works.