18 August 2016

The Power of Writing Things Down

I'm a list maker. I always have been. Going to the grocery store? Make a list. Have errands to run this weekend? List. Packing for a week in the backcountry? You sure as hell better have a list!
Some people find my list making and/or general need to organize everything annoying. I can see how my spreadsheets and To Do Lists and to-the-minute calendar updates (that I make retroactively) could be irritating. But I just can't help myself. Data is power

The truth is I don't know any other way. When I was 7 years old I opened my first bank account with $32.00..... in pennies. Yes, I went to the bank, handed over 3,200 pennies and said, "Iwde like a bwank accwound pweese." (I should mention I had a bad speech impediment until about this age...).

Future nerd.
How did I know it was 3,200 pennies? Because I counted them. For FUN! I remember counting when I needed to escape what was going on in my little life. And I had a system. I would make piles of 10 pennies, then take ten piles of ten and put it into one big pile for a dollar. I learned quickly that I could count them most efficiently when I grabbed a handful of coins with each hand and alternated counting. Right hand: 1. Left hand: 2. Right hand: 3. And so on until I had 10. Then I'd do it over and over and over again. By the time I was done, I was sitting cross legged surrounded by 32 piles of 100 pennies.

The money came from my Dad, who would come home from work and deposit his pennies into a special bin we had made together. I only decided deposit it when my handmade piggy bank was over-full.

I remember feeling very surprised to learn that the bank had a counting machine. I just assumed I would sit down and count it in front of them. Or that they would just take my word that it was $32.00. I mean, I was a very trustworthy 7 year old!

When the numbers came back it was 12¢ off. I knew immediately why. I had miscounted a stack of 10 and they had lost 2 cents in their counting machine! But even if the 12¢ error was my fault, a 0.0375% error rate isn't bad for anyone, let alone a little girl who was just learning to write in cursive.

Maybe this is why I love spreadsheets so much. I like to know where things stand. I want to be able to keep track of stuff without having to hold it in my brain. Being able to look back and definitively see how far I've come is powerful. It's a way of announcing your intentions and holding yourself accountable. It creates a paper trail of your life, and gives you the perspective to appreciate all changes big and small.

Gaining some perspective.
That's why I write so many things down. I honestly believe writing something down gives it the power to come true. When I turned 28 I started on a 30 Before 30 List, and for the most part I completed the list as originally outlined. I did things I never would have otherwise prioritized, and I pushed myself to go outside of my comfort zone.

Most importantly, I learned the list had power to propel me toward action. I remembered that, and made a new list in 2014 and again in 2015. At the beginning of this year, I wrote down "Buy a house". I closed on my house on my 32nd birthday.

That's why I want to encourage you - today - to take a pen to paper and write down one thing you want to do before the end of this year. Pay off a credit card bill, go for a hike, clean out your attic, take that vacation. The goal doesn't matter, but writing it down is the first step in actually doing it. I believe this can be the most powerful step you take.

1 comment:

Casey Price said...

I love this! This is so incredibly true, writing it down and reading it daily will make it happen.