“We have to start putting ourselves on the to-do list.” – Giuliana Rancic

I don’t know about most people, but I’m an inveterate list-maker.

I have to-do lists for pending bills, lists for appointments for myself and separate ones for other family members, lists of groceries to buy at different stores, lists of deals to take advantage of, lists of birthdays, anniversaries and other important life events, lists of TV shows to record on the DVR, lists of new TV shows or movies to check out, lists of websites (so I don’t forget them or can’t retrieve them in case the computer dies), and so on.

Sometimes all these lists need a thorough cleaning. Translation: I find the best way to deal with them is to revisit each list.

Why bother?

Already I hear a chorus of “Why bother?” I admit, the task can seem intimidating, particularly if I’m trying to clean up a website list.

What really got me started on that project is trying to figure out what my username and password is for a beauty site or sporting goods stores, or even if I created one to begin with. This was long before any availability of password managers or other such clever inventions to do away with the tedious prospect of retrieving said supposedly safe information. Even though I now use a password manager, I still maintain my lists of websites. I go through them periodically to eliminate ones I no longer visit or can’t stand receiving incessant emails from.

The reason I bother revisiting my lists is that it simplifies my life. Take the example of upcoming TV shows or ones I want to record on the DVR. When I jot down the title, network, channel number, date and time of the shows, it saves me from trying to scramble through the on-screen guide and scrolling to find what I need.

Many times, what I’m looking for is weeks or months off, too far away for me to remember. Some shows switch networks, while others are canceled. It’s easy to see where a list can come in handy. I value my time, as I’m sure most people do. Why waste it in a sometimes-futile attempt to find what you’re looking for? Do what you can ahead of time and make a convenient list. Then, revisit it as necessary. Works for me. The practice also eliminates much stress and anxiety from my life.

What about important life-goals on your list?

Lists that contain life goals are incredibly important. If you’ve never constructed one, I highly recommend the practice.

For one thing, putting down on paper or in an electronic form goals you deem worthwhile can help provide direction. You can see the trajectory of progress to-date or where you may need to modify your path by taking certain action in a cadence.

For example, if you’ve been cruising along in college taking courses that fit your major, more or less, but have also added a few that captured your interest and you find you like the subject or area of study a lot, it might be advisable to reconsider your end goal and redefine it.

Do you still want to pursue that career in architecture or biology or are you now more excited by the prospect of working as a coder or a veterinarian? Take time to seriously reflect on what is most important in your life. If you want to be fulfilled and feel a sense of purpose, you must do what gives you that satisfaction and pride. If not, you’ll forever feel short-changed, disappointed that you neglected your values and ignored your hopes and dreams in favor of the more convenient or what’s expected of you.

Does it matter if you face intense criticism or opposition?

Granted, making changes on important lists such as life goals can be an attention-getter. And such attention may not always be what you want to deal with.

Parents, spouses, possibly friends and bosses, may object to the new path you want to travel. It doesn’t fit with the plan, they may remind you, or chide you for not being able to stick with something that’s going to benefit you. Remember, it’s your life. It’s up to you how you live it. Do you want to be the person who just goes along, never fully happy, only skirting the periphery of a vibrant existence? Or, do you intend to eke every possible moment of a rich pursuit of what matters most to you?

Be prepared for criticism or opposition that may be intense and hard to ignore. Choose how to respond, according to the source and how obligated you may feel to that person. Ultimately, the choices you make are the ones you will live with. Choose wisely. This means being ready and willing to revisit your to-do lists as often as necessary.