Does Every Treat Have a Trick?

I’m going to tell you a true-life story. I hope you can relate to it.

About ten years ago, Prince Charming and I took a long-anticipated trip. We were both in high-stress jobs at the time, so this getaway was very important to us.

We planned every detail in advance, because we wanted to start our vacation stress-free, with no last-minute rushing about. We had a list of items to pack, which we dutifully checked off, one by one, as we put things in our suitcases.

We had a list of things to do, like holding our mail with the post office, and notifying our home security company of our trip, so they’d make extra rounds while we were away.

We even had a time table for the morning of our departure, starting with the time we wanted our alarm to go off, all the way up to the moment we checked our bags and entered the lines at airport security.

We had everything planned out, anticipated every problem, accounted for every contingency.

The big day arrived. When the alarm went off, we got up, dressed, and headed to the airport, right on time. We were happy. We were stress-free.

And we were proud of ourselves because all that pre-planning was paying off.

Then it happened. We were in the car, on the freeway, almost at the airport for our early-morning flight, when Prince turned to me and asked, “Did you remember to turn the coffee pot off before we left the house?”

So much for stress-free travel.

No, of course I could not remember turning it off, and my stress level immediately went from 2 on the scale to Red Alert level.

In those days, our coffee maker didn’t have an automatic turn-off mechanism. And since I couldn’t remember turning off the burner under the pot—and, incidentally, neither could Prince Charming, which was kind-a why he asked the question—I had an immediate vision in my head of the coffee maker melting down from its own heat and catching the house on fire. Prince had the same vision.

We immediately abandoned our beautifully orchestrated timetable and returned to the house. Prince kept the motor running, while I ran in, only to find one of us had turned the burner off under the pot, after all. So, it turned out, there was no need to rush; there was no reason to panic; there was no cause for worry.

We just had to get back on track and finish what we set out to do, and get that vacation started.

Why am I telling you this story?

Because I had a coffee pot moment not long ago; but this time, the thing that got off track wasn’t a vacation. It was a book.

Back in January I set a goal for myself to finish a novel I’d been working on. And guess what?

I did it!

I finished the novel and sent it off to a couple of beta readers and a proofreader.

Confident, I had a cover designed, wrote a book blurb, and set a date to publish my book in print and e-book formats.

And then I heard back from my readers. They all liked the overall story, loved the hero, and Miss Proofreader spotted only a couple of typos.

But they all agreed there was a problem with one of the subplots. And I had to admit, once they brought it to my attention, I saw the problem, too. But why had I not seen it before?

I was so busy concentrating on writing “The End” on the last page of my manuscript, and reveling in the feeling of having accomplished a major goal, that I didn’t see a hole in my plot.

And now I have to do some revisions throughout the story so that plot hole can be fixed.

So, the good news is, I did achieve one of my goals for the year. I finished writing my book. But the bad news (if you can call it that) is I still have some more work to do to on it.

So I’ve re-calibrated my timetable, and I’m now busy with rewrites.

And while I do that, I want to give a shout out to beta readers and proofreaders all over world.

Thank you! You help make dreams come true.


Without My Lists I’d Be Listless

Many years ago I read The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, and Amy D. Wallace. It was a best-seller that captivated me and millions of other readers.

Cover The Book of ListsAs the title suggests, it was a compilation of weird facts and fascinating trivia that was downright addictive (I also read the sequels, The Book of Lists 2 and The Book of Lists 3).

Something in those books clicked with me and I became a creator of lists. Many years later, I still use lists to organize my day, keep track of family members’ birthdays and anniversaries, and remind myself of seasonal tasks around the house.

I list books I want to read, books I have read, movies recorded on my DVR, and items to add to my next Amazon Prime order.


Why am I a lister? Because it’s immediately rewarding. There’s a certain amount of gratification I get when I cross an entry off my list. It’s empowering and no matter what else happens that day, I know I had at least one triumph. I accomplished something. I can point to my success. It’s there in black and white on the page: a bunch of letters symbolizing a need, want or requirement, with a big old black line running through it. I’m a winner.

But there can be a downside, too. If I reach the end of my day and have to carry a task over from one day to another, I feel a little bit of pressure. Did I not manage my time well? Was I over-confident in my abilities to get everything done? Was that hour I spent playing Candy Crush (which I justified with an “I deserve it because I’ve been working so hard”) a mistake?

To Do List from Yesterday

The truth is, I don’t have to perform some deep analysis to know why I didn’t get through every task on my list; in my heart (and head) I already know I wasn’t as focused and efficient as I could have been. And If I’m really serious about achieving the goals I set for myself in all my many lists, I know I have to get on track and stay there. I know I have to make coffee in my own kitchen instead of jumping in the car and heading to Starbucks. I know I have to fight through those human urges to procrastinate and keep focused on what it is I’m trying to achieve.

Keep Calm 2In the end, my lists help me remember my dreams and how I’m going to achieve them. And since I never run out of dreams, it’s a sure bet that I’ll never run out of lists.

How about you? Are you a lister? What methods or tools do you use to stay on track every day with life’s big and little things?