Make Lists to Achieve Your Goals

Photo by Holden Baxter on Unsplash

I’m a filmmaker that specializes in sound. With each passing day, I’m moving closer and closer to my goal of writing and directing documentary films. How does one become a documentary filmmaker? They take the Werner Herzog Masterclass and follow his advice. 

“Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read…if you don’t read, you will never be a filmmaker.”
― Werner Herzog

Daily I have a rigorous reading routine. Most of my books line the shelves of every vertical surface in my home. Begging to be opened and absorbed. To optimize my time, I listen to audiobooks. My local public library offers up to five free audiobooks per month and I take advantage of Audible’s five-dollar book deals and purchasing credits in bulk. 

I’ve slowly yet steadily increased the intensity of my audible reading goals by gradually increasing the playback speed. Currently I “read” or listen to books at double the speed. Occasionally I’ll miss a word or passage and I’ll rewind fifteen seconds and relisten. Point is I read a lot of books.

Reading is a neverending lifelong process. If you are a reader, you’ll never ever finish. 

For the most part, I only read non-fiction. Life is too short and interesting to waste time with fiction. Memoirs, self-development, philosophy, and nature are some of my favorite categories. 

So this is an article on lists. Why are you talking about books?

Possibly because I’m self-diagnosed with ADHD. Or possibly because my interests are vast. Or possibly because I suffer from CRS (Can’t Remember Shit), I make lists. Lists of every book I read. Lists of books I never finished. Amazon hosts lists of books I want. 

How does a self-diagnosed weirdo keep track of where he has been and where he is going? You guessed it. I make a damn list.

What are your goals? Do you know how to get there? If you are feeling stuck, lacking in ambition to reach your dreams and goals, make lists. The list can be incremental steps to the final goal.

Want to travel to Patagonia? Make a damn list. Make a huge list that feels overwhelming with detail. Let the anxiety build and then work to strike out just one item on the list. Found your passport? Check it off. Researched flights? Check that shit off. Ordered plane tickets, found someone to care for your orchids? Check. And on and on.

What does a pseudo-documentary filmmaker suffering from self-diagnosed ADHD, turned writer, turned self-help guide, turned philosopher know about the subject? I know how to make a list. And more importantly, I know how to take incremental steps to check items off and make progress. One step at a time.

Stop Sharpening Your Pencil

I once worked with an architect. We will call him The Ostrich. Why The Ostrich? Because he spends most of his day doing two things. Sharpening pencils and shoving his head in the sand. Stressed and anxious about his workload, he would wander around the office, sharpening pencils, grabbing clean writing pads, wiping down his desk, filling his water bottle. I’d say “dude, I wrote my task list, stared blankly at the page, found the easiest task, finished it, and crossed that shit off. And you, you are making sawdust.”

He couldn’t make a list. The idea of the list overwhelmed him. WTF? Isn’t the idea of life the journey and not the destination? Do I only want to read one more book? Write one more article? Make only one film. Hell no. Every day I’ll keep adding to my lists. I make lists of my tasks, and lists of my accomplishments. 

Far ahead in the distance is a sandy mountain. The sun is shining brightly. Will I ever get to the top? Possibly not. However, look at each footprint in the sand as a goal on your list. Take one step, now another. Give it a week, a month, a year. Now look back at that list like footprints in the sand. Do you see have far you’ve come? Now keep going.

My advice Make a damn list.

Author: mtcwriter

Michael Competielle is a Creative Designer specializing in Sound, Brand and Experiential Design.

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