FAQ: The difference between Wish Lists and Now Lists

The Now List Department. Diligently working on things you'd like to do before you die.
The Now List Department. Diligently working on things you’d like to do before you die.

Plenty of people have asked me to explain the difference between your Now List and your Wish List and whether it’s ok if something makes both lists.

The short answer is it doesn’t matter. If you want to put something on both lists and that makes sense to you, go right ahead. What goes on which list is far less important than understanding how each list works and why.

Imagine you head up a corporation with two groups of people at your disposal. Over there, in the factory building, you have your Now List Department, whereas over here, on the fourteenth floor of your corporate headquarters you have the Wish List & Goal Division.

The Now List folks will diligently work through anything and everything you give them, albeit at their own methodical pace, trying to get as many things done before – well, before the whistle blows and they rush home to their families.

The Wish List & Goals Department. The seat of ultimate power.

The Wish & Goals operatives, on the other hand, will consider any request you throw at them, but until it’s passed rigorous internal scrutiny to see whether it should be adopted as one of your corporation’s three goals, won’t do very much with it. When it is a goal however, they’ll assign a deadline, introduce rewards and penalties, create a poster campaign, organise affirmation sessions, work overtime, and generally throw every resource they have at it.

So then, let’s take that wish you had earlier to ‘climb Mount Kilimanjaro’. Which group of your people do you want to give that to?

FAQ: Potential Boxing Day Problem #1 – “Haven’t you re-invented Saturday?”

Postman-Pat

Not everybody is able to see how a Boxing Day might be a good thing. Some people – let’s call them ‘young people’ – tend to look at me blankly for a moment or two before asking me how a Boxing Day differs from, say, Saturday. Or Sunday. Or virtually any other day of the week when they’re not at college. Which seems to be most days.

Before I became the grumpy old sod you see before you now, Saturday’s were sacred and followed a very strict routine: I would roll out of bed around midday, and settle down with a bowl of cornflakes in front of ‘the chart show’ before considering whether I should wander down to the town centre to ‘mooch about’.

This relaxed state of affairs continued throughout my teens and twenties, and might have continued into my thirties if it hadn’t of been for the arrival of…

The postman.

If you’re in your early twenties you’ve probably yet to appreciate the sheer amount of admin that awaits you the moment you get a bank account, a loan, a credit card, a car, or move into a place of your own. Suddenly there’s a mountain of paperwork to be addressed, most of it hidden amongst an even bigger mountain of junk from people trying to sell you stuff. And whilst you can (as I did) leave this stuff on the side in the hopes that it’ll kind of sort itself out, I don’t recommend it. Handing over your money to these organisations is only part of the payment required – the remainder is due in time sorting out all manner of insurances, MOT certificates, and taxes of numerous flavours. And that’s assuming that you never miss a payment, your car never needs fixing, your boiler never packs up, and that the Gas Board doesn’t decide to change your supplier without your knowledge. If you manage to juggle all this nonsense without surrendering the occasional Saturday I take my hat off to you. Personally I’d developed a morbid fear of ‘post’ by the time I was thirty.

Of course you might, as many people do, assume that there’s strength in numbers, and choose to combine forces with another. And whilst there are most definitely perks to giving up your single life it’s only a matter of time before your entire weekend is given over to ferrying the kids around, climbing a ladder with a paintbrush in your hand, or wandering the aisles of Ikea trying to find the damn exit.

When that happens, you might consider booking yourself a Boxing Day.

I’m looking forward to #BoxingDay. Here’s why.

Why I’m looking forward to Boxing Day, and why for me, and many other people, it’s no longer the day after Christmas.boxing day

Of all the ideas in the book the one people like the most, is Boxing Day.

But isn’t Boxing Day the day after Christmas Day? A slightly down-beat, re-run of the previous days festivities? More Turkey. More Christmas Pud. Perhaps a change of venue and/or relatives?

That’s certainly how it used to be in my family, but then my wife Kate came along and Boxing Day became ‘our’ day. We’d get up around midday, open a bottle of champagne, play with our presents from the day before, roast chestnuts in the oven, play silly board games, watch Christmas movies, and eat posh nibbles. It was, quite simply, a fantastic day. Our first Boxing Day together (before my wife was even my wife) I even ended up proposing. That gives you some idea how good Boxing Day made me feel about life, and there hasn’t been a Boxing Day since that hasn’t given me that same inner glow, that same joy for life. And I can speak with some authority here because in the last five years I’ve celebrated Boxing Day approximately sixty times.

That first Christmas after Kate passed away my mother, concerned for my welfare during the festive season, asked if I’d like to spend Boxing Day with them. It was a generous offer but, call me sentimental, I decided to spend it just as we always had.

I got up late, I opened a bottle of champagne, I sat in bed and browsed my collection of gifts from the previous day. Then I took the Brie from the fridge, a box of posh crackers (the edible kind) and worked my way through the whole lot whilst I sat in front of the telly and watched “The Santa Clause”. A little later I emailed friends I’d been meaning to catch up with, and followed that with a walk down to Old Leigh. I looked out at the boats resting in the mud, and then I went home, wrote down some thoughts, and did some planning.

By the time I went to bed I felt like I’d had a week’s holiday, and all I’d done was get out of bed and see how the day unfolded. It was such a good day that I caught myself wishing that Boxing Day happened a little more frequently than once a year, at which point I had the following crazy thought:

Why can’t it?

What was to stop me replicating the same structure – or lack of structure – on any other day of the year?

Answer: nothing.

From that day on I decided to have a “Boxing Day” once a month. Once a month I’d get up with absolutely no plans whatsoever and see how the day unfolded. And that was almost five years ago.

Principals of Boxing Day

boxingdayLet’s cover some basics here: Boxing Day isn’t a ‘day off’, it’s important to get that concept out of your head immediately. Boxing Day is a day when you get to live totally in the moment. And why is this important? Because living in the moment takes a lot less energy!

As adults we expend a huge amount of energy just juggling the day-to-day. Young children, on the other hand, don’t. They live utterly in the moment and the job of structuring their day is handled by (hopefully) a responsible adult. Within the confines of whatever structure is imposed on them their day is totally driven by what they want to do, at that moment, and what opportunities exist. They don’t have to expend any energy on thinking past the next few minutes, and as a result they seem to have bucketfuls of the stuff. You could probably power an entire city on half a dozen four year olds and a ball pool if you could just keep them in that ball pool long enough.

And four year olds never seem to suffer from that Monday morning feeling, they never seem to worry about how they’re going to make it through the week, and they never pace themselves. They throw themselves at life, and when they run out of steam, they’re done. Have you ever seen the way a four year old sleeps? They’re so out of it you can pick them up without waking them.

Boxing Day is a little like being a four year old for a day. It releases you from thinking about the future or the past. For twenty four hours everything else is on hold. If you do Boxing Day properly you should feel like you’ve had a mini holiday – by the end of a Boxing Day you should feel rested, and energised, and happy.

So, let’s reiterate how Boxing Day works in one concise sentence:

Boxing Day is driven by the moment,
the heart, and the opportunity.

Re-read that last sentence because the success of your Boxing Days, should you choose to have them, relies heavily on how well you understand the concept and implement the principles. To boost your chances the book contains some very special Boxing Day rules, and those rules are yours along with all the other goodies that the book contains. And being the festive season it goes without saying that the book (currently number one in two of amazon’s book categories), would make a fabulous gift for a loved one, co-worker, best-friend, boss, or any member of the national press.

In the meantime let me take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Boxing Day.

Peter


Competition results

We asked you to ‘tweet’ out the above post to be in with a chance of winning either the paperback or one of ten copies of the ebook.
And the winner is…

Gillian Holmes from Nottingham

A copy of the book is winging it’s way to you via Royal Mail, Gillian. Hope you enjoy.

The following lovely people also won a copy of the ebook and have already been contacted via twitter direct message.

Sherieann (RedRoses4)
Victoria (sugarplum70)
Lilly (LillyLoveYou4)
Phyllis & Gerry Ellett (phyllgerry)
Tracy Nixon (tracyknixon)
Sara Wilson (tinkerbell34)
Tammie (ukusa1)
Jane Willis (janesgrapevine)
Barbara (babz229)
Julie Kenny (relisys222)

Many thanks to everyone who took part.
Subscribe to this blog (top of this page in the top right hand corner) to be notified of future competitions and giveaways.

Now List – The Importance of Being Earnest

mr earnest worthing

If you’ve read the book then you may remember that

  1. playing a part in The Importance of Being Earnest was on my original Now List, and
  2. near end of the book (page 209 if you have the paperback) there’s a throw away remark that could suggest that I had achieved that item.

Indeed I had.

This time last year, almost to the day, two things dominated my life. I was finishing up the first draft of How To Do Everything and Be Happy, and I was preparing to play the character of Jack Worthing in Oscar Wilde’s most famous play.

I first read The Importance of Being Earnest at the age of twelve or thirteen, in Miss Pyrah’s English Literature class. And when I say read, I mean out loud,  in front of thirty or so other kids. Back then reading out loud was possibly the worst experience I could imagine. Second only to having a love-note intercepted by someone other than the intended recipient. As Miss Pyrah handed out dog-eared copies of the script she proceeded, tyrant that she was, to allocate parts seemingly at random, and of course she picked on me. I realise now her casting wasn’t random at all, and though I, along with my class mates, feared this woman who we all assumed ate small children for breakfast, she was actually showing a huge amount of favouritism by casting me first as Algernon, and later as Jack.

By the end of the first act I had fallen in love with the play. I suspect Miss Pyrah always knew I would.

So, some thirty or so years later it was kind of inevitable that it would end up on my Now List.

Saying those words again, but without the script in front of me, and as if Jack’s words were my very own thoughts – I think it’s safe to say I’ve never been more nervous about anything in my entire life. Nerves that were both eased and aggravated knowing that I was performing alongside professional actors and actresses for whom I have a great deal of awe and respect. And whilst to you it might not seem as impressive as, say, mountain climbing or hand-gliding, when I was stood in front of that audience, made up of paying members of the public, the air felt just as thin, and the stakes just as high.

It was exhilarating. Terrifying. Wonderful.

Would I do it again?

No. Never. Ever.

What about a different play?

No.

Although… Miss Pyrah did manage to instil in me a similar love of Shakespeare. Hmmmm.

Anyway, sadly I don’t have any pictures of me actually on stage, but below are a selection of back stage photos.

If you have any acting ambitions lurking on your Now List, or if you know the whereabouts of Miss Pyrah, I’d love to hear from you. You can use the comments box below.

The Therapy Life Centre – Karen’s Story

If you turn to the back of the book, amongst the acknowledgements, you’ll find a small list of people who I describe as my “first readers”. These are the crack team of operatives (friends) who agreed to read my first draft and give me their brutally honest opinions so that I could hone it into the finely tuned masterpiece that I’m assuming you’ve read. Several times. One of those first readers was Karen.

Karen Revivo is my physio-therapist. Has been for many, many years. Long enough for us to become very good friends. So it was a no-brainer to include her amongst my first readers, and I wasn’t surprised in the slightest when she handed back my manuscript – absolutely covered in comments – just a week or two after I’d given it to her. I was however totally blown away by what happened afterwards.

“Peter Jones,” she said, “what have you started!?”

You’ll remember that one of the things I encourage readers to do is think about what they want (be that a slice of cheese cake, a new bathroom or fired out of a cannon into an enourmous tub of chocolate flavoured yoghurt), and compile those wants into a list. Whilst I never saw Karen’s list apparently the number one item was: “open my own centre” – which was short hand for, “find a medium sized building capable of accommodating up to a dozen or so different therapists with complimentary skills, and a room large enough to play host to yoga & pilates classes, presentations and lectures – and open a Therapy Centre!”

A year later she’s done exactly that. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you – just a few doors along from the Southend General Hospital – the Therapy Life Centre.

You can find out more from the Centre’s website, or on facebook.

Well done Karen – and all the best with your new venture.


Southend Today’s coverage of the Therapy Life Centre

What to put in your Diary

You might think it’s pretty obvious how to use your (appointment) diary, but you’d be surprised – especially if you’re a ‘diary newbie’ – how easy it is to screw things up. So here’s a quick reminder of what should (or shouldn’t) be on your schedule:calendar

1)  Put ALL your appointments in it. Not just your appointment with your Physiotherapist or Family Planning clinic. Everything. Even the appointments you know you won’t forget: your band rehearsals, your evening classes, even WORK. The only possible exception is IF you work a regular 5 day week (in which case put the times you’re not at work in your diary – such as a vacation). If you don’t work a five day week – if you work part-time, or shifts, or you’re on a contract – put the work days in. Yes, it looks crowded! Now you know how busy you are.

2) Unless you have another system for this (one that actually works) add all birthdays and anniversaries, and potentially extra reminders a few days ahead of the real event (e.g. you might want an appointment entitled ‘it’s your wedding anniversary this time next week’).

3)  Add public/bank holidays[1], Easter[2] (remember Easter moves around from one year to the next), Mother’s Day[3], Father’s Day[4], Christmas Day, Boxing Day (the real Boxing Day), Valentine’s Day, and both days when they change the damn clocks[5] – in your diary. If you’ve elected to use Google Calendar you may be interested to know that you can get it to do this for you by clicking the small down-arrow (next to ‘Other Calendars’ in the bottom left hand corner) and then browsing ‘Interesting Calendars’

4) If your diary has a reminder function I recommend you set it to remind you several days in advance. Yes, days. Mine is set to 10 days (and the day itself). Birthdays are set to one month. There’s no point in getting a reminder about an important birthday or anniversary on the actual day itself – not if you need to get a card and a gift (what d’you mean you always buy the card and gift on the day?)

5) Add your own birthday. You’ll be surprised how many years I agreed to work on my own bloody birthday!

6) Delicate one, this one – you may wish to add your menstrual cycle, or the cycle of someone you’re close to, to your diary. I’m just putting the idea out there. Moving on….

‘The List’ – a 13 point survival guide for curing ‘the blues’

In the first edition of  ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’  I discussed five Bullet Proof Layers to protect yourself against those pesky ‘External Forces’ that would trample your happy mood into the dust if they could (you can find them here).

My Bullet Proof Layers were inspired in part by my friend Agent Sparkles who a long time ago created a 13 point survival guide for preventing and curing the blues. Sparkles created her list after a difficult period in her life struggling with depression and amongst her friends ‘the list’ has become quite famous. So here it is for you, unabridged and unedited.

1)      First, and I would argue, the most important – get out of bed. Before 9am. Get up, have a shower, get dressed, put on some decent clothes, make up, and do your hair. Shave your legs. EVEN if you have no plans for the day. Don’t give yourself an excuse to feel bad about yourself.

2)      Eat good food. An example would be: Breakfast, poached eggs on brown bread. Snack, piece of fruit. Lunch, chicken salad. Dinner, piece of fish pan fried in butter with lemon (yum). No caffeine after about 2pm.

3)      Do some exercise. In a way that isn’t an excuse to beat yourself up (e.g, I can’t run, I’m too unfit, I look awful in these gym clothes, etc etc). Walk to the park. Buy the paper on the way. Lie in the sun and read. Or, go to a dance class. Walk to the gym and do the easiest thing there is, e.g sit on the stationery bike for 20 mins. Get into the pool and just float. Do a yoga class. Or, just walk to the corner store for a pint of milk. Something that used to make me feel REALLY good about myself was going to over 60’s aerobics. Yes I was fat. Yes I was unfit. Yes I was unemployed. But, was I the slimmest, youngest, fittest, and most likely to be alive in ten years person in the room? YES.

4)      Sleep. Go to bed at 10pm, with a chamomile tea, and sleep. Don’t f*ck about pretending you’re too stressed to sleep, you can’t sleep, you’ve got insomnia, blah blah blah. Count sheep. Read an algebra text book. SLEEP.

5)      Daylight. This  ties in with point 1. And I’m not even talking about SAD. If you spend all day in bed or on the couch with all the curtains closed, you are going to feel like sh*t by the late afternoon. Go back to point 3. And note: LEAVE THE HOUSE.

6)      Make a list of all the things that make you feel bad, and another list of all the things that make you feel good. Be honest. Don’t put things on the list that make you feel good just because you think they ought to make you feel good. For instance – calling or visiting your mother. If it makes you feel bad, (are you still unemployed? Are you still seeing that awful man?) don’t do it. If it makes you feel good, even if your brain says it’s lame (e.g, finding a sheet of bubble wrap to pop), do it.

7)      Have faith in a Higher Power. I know this is very AA, but it works. In my opinion, the difference between people who hang in there until life gets better and people who decide to check out early, is having faith that things are going to get better. Even if you’re an atheist, pick something to believe in. Believe in science. No matter how bad your life feels, the sun is going to rise tomorrow. And the day after that. The tide will come in. Rain will fall, grass will grow, the seasons will change. Life will get better.

8)      Do not listen to sad music. In my mind, this cuts out: Radiohead, Coldplay, Dido, Leonard Cohen, Portishead, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Smiths, Eminem and anything of a similar ilk. Make yourself a ‘happy’ play list. This will include reggae. I defy anyone to be depressed whilst listening to Shaggy’s ‘Mr Boombastic’. Beware of music that seems like it ought to be uplifting, but in fact isn’t. Perfect case in point – The Carpenters. Karen wasn’t exactly on ‘Top of the World’ was she?

9)      Ditto for literature. Do not, under any circumstances, read any Jodi Picoult. I always find Paolo Coelho to be a good one for uplifting the spirit. Give the Alchemist a try. Avoid, like the plague, self-help books – particularly the ‘you can heal your life’ sort. Light hearted detective novels work too, Agatha Christie worked for me.

10)   Let it go. The only person that you’re hurting by hanging on to your ‘demons’ is you. So your mother was controlling, your father ran out on you, your husband turned out to be an arsehole. You and the rest of the world. Maybe you have had a truly traumatic experience. Just let it go. I read somewhere that it helps to physically let things go – such as buying a whole lot of helium balloons, then writing the things you want to let go of onto a scrap of paper, tying it to the balloon, and literally letting it go. This sounds lovely in theory, but obtaining the helium balloons seems like a major hassle, and also, a lot like littering.  Other options are just to imagine your problems floating away one by one. Or think about it logically – yes, I can hold onto this problem like a barnacle, because it defines me and it’s part of who I am – but who’s going to win out if I do that, and who’s going to lose?

11)   Stop picking the scab. There are studies that show that Vietnam war veterans who received ongoing counselling to talk about their experiences, had higher incidences of self harm, alcoholism, etc, than veterans who didn’t attend counselling. Evidence suggests that talking about an experience is similar to reliving it over and over again, and actually extending recovery time. To this end – hang out with people you don’t know very well, rather than really good friends, so you can’t spend the whole time moaning.

12)   Don’t drink alone. Ever.

13)   Make a pledge that one day, when you’re ok, you’ll pass on the good turn that someone else has done you whilst you’ve been down and out, by helping someone else who needs it. I once got a call from my flat mate to ‘please come home’ – when I got in she was rocking back and forth on the floor with a kitchen knife in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other. Five years later she’s 100% okay, happily married with a baby.  I was the 6th person she’d called (including her best friend and parents), and the only one who agreed to drop what I was doing and come over.

There’s a downloadable PDF version of this list here