I was the Queen of check-lists.
I crushed the workday as I sailed down my list. A hit of dopamine rushing through me as I tick one box after the next. As the list whittled down, my sense of accomplishment and satisfaction soared.
My checklists weren’t confined to work. Oh no, this impulse was strong, seeping into every part of my life.
My future goals were a checklist:
✅ Meet an amazing partner
✅ Get a dog
✅ Get my MBA
✅ Get promoted
✅ Find the right balance between work and life
Vacations also had a checklist. The must-eat places, the must-see sights, the must-experience activities. I’d check out everything I’ve been told to check out, so I didn’t accidentally miss out.
Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
As I checked off the boxes, I knew I was doing it right. I was intentionally rigging the game to get the most out of life. I was accomplishing the most things and gaining the most experience. I was working hard and playing harder.
I spent decades honing my craft to achieve the coveted title of Queen of Checklists.
But, I made a mistake.
Checklists have their place—don’t get me wrong—but checklists don’t belong everywhere.
Checklists don’t leave room for serendipity. The unexpected door that’s more interesting than anything I could have imagined to put on my checklist.
Checklists are the tangible expression of doing. Doing one thing after the next. When you spend your whole life doing, you forget how to be. You forget that it’s precisely because of the silence between the notes that allows you to hear the music.
Without the silence, what’s it for?
Taken to the extreme, all you’re left with is chaotic noise: Check. Check. Check. Check.
A life spent buzzing here and there. A life spent rushing from dopamine hit to dopamine hit, but never truly experiencing any of it.
Life isn’t meant to be distilled to a checklist.
A checklist doesn’t leave room for living.
Slow down my fellow checklist bees. The trip is so much more enjoyable if you take time to play in the flowers on the road to making honey.