Write it Down!

I just figured out why they give you a written license when you marry.  Because if the union wasn’t on paper, you might not stick around when times get tough. Anything important is always put down in writing.  Then you have to do what’s on the paper.  It’s a clever idea. For me, lists and written agreements are the key to a well-organized, productive and happy life.

I have found that if I write something down, I am more likely to keep that commitment.  For example, I may talk about having a party but until I create the invitation, it won’t happen and once they’re in the mail, I really get moving.  It is amazing how motivating a small piece of paper can be.

I keep several lists going at once.  I have a list for Dominick’s, Target, Home Depot, Costco, house chores, and a various list.  I just discovered Notes on my iPhone, which allows me to type a list and email it to myself where I can print it.  This comes in handy when I have the urge to create a list and have no pen and paper.  Lists certainly help me to be more efficient and stay organized.  I have a white board in my kitchen (tastefully framed) to keep track of everyone’s commitments on a given day.  Without that list, I would forget appointments, parties and other crucial stuff.

My four siblings and I share a beach house. We know that it is unlikely that this arrangement will be successful in the long run.  We’d heard that it is the small things that kill these arrangements. We felt the best chance of making it work was to have a detailed contract.  We use the contract to settle any problems.  Interestingly, the most invoked clause in the contract is the “clutter” clause.  We feel that it has been the key to our success over the last four years.

On New Year’s Eve, my family and I list our goals for the upcoming year.  We break them down into Personal, Family, Work or School, Civic, 5 year, 10 year, and Things Accomplished, Not On List.  This last one is very exciting.  It is like getting an accomplishment windfall. We go over our lists in July to see how we are doing.  At the end of the year, it is very gratifying to see what we’ve accomplished.  I truly believe that if we did not commit our goals to paper, we would not accomplish them.

Something that is always on my list:  go to the gym 5 times a week, which I do, get down to 125 pounds, which I don’t.  It dawned on me that I needed a written commitment as to how to achieve that weight loss goal.  In January, I wrote out an Ideal Body Commitment.   Nice official name.  It spelled out my exercise and eating commitments. I am nearly at the six-month mark and my contract in regards to weight loss was not successful.  I couldn’t believe that this was the only thing in my life that something in writing didn’t work for.  I went back over my Ideal Body Commitment.  I notice a loophole in the last paragraph that says something like “I’ll accept myself as I am…” Hmmm, maybe I need to rewrite that contract…

Originally Published in The Doings Newspaper in Hinsdale, IL

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