Are you more TDL or TBL? This one letter difference can be the change you are seeking in life.

Photo by SOULSANA on Unsplash

Each year, it is the same movie playing out before my eyes.

It is the beginning, and we have it placed everywhere on the whole company walls, even in front of the toilets.

Each year, we have the company’s top objectives at the beginning of January. Then it is the moment the dance starts.

For each division of the company, for each function, for each department, those objectives are detailed, customized, and tailored to fit what people must be doing for the coming next 12 months.

Then I got the email notification that I have to read and accept those SMART objectives. Like Moses, I have been on the top of my HR mountain tool. I came back with a new version of my table of 10 bullet points objectives for this year.

Each year I am told that they contribute to a greater vision, a light so bright that a simple employee like myself cannot understand it. I say “Amen!”. And I go back to my cubical with my latest tablet. I put it on top of the previous tablets on my desk, covered with dust.

Are you familiar with this situation?

Well, you are not alone.

The digital era we are living in has provided us with innovative tools. And we love to use them to create lists for everything.

A list for the grocery store? Done. A list of my top 10 things to do today? Done. A list of my to-do lists? Done.

Yes, we Humans are fans of to-do lists. And don’t get me wrong. I know how powerful they are. I know how powerful they can be to help us achieve great things.

Yet To-Do Lists (TDL) are just one side of the coin. They are the visible part of our moon that we love to show to the world.

Yes, it is a beautiful moonshot, yet only a partial one.

What about the dark side of our moon, that hidden part that not most people talk about?

That hidden face looming on the shadows of our TDL is where resides the actual force. Yes, in that dark side is where we can dig for the most powerful energy that will transform our life.

In this article, we will explore how to go from TDL to TBL.

What is TBL, you asked?

Well, let me explain in a moment.

First, let’s see why TDLs, while being great tools, just remain that: tools.

TDL OR FEAR UNDIRECTED — When using TDL, we want to reassure ourselves that we are in charge, that we can control what we are doing.

Most importantly, they give us a sense of control in a VUCA world.

I want to hold my TDL in front of me as tangible proof of my power in a volatile world.

My TDL gives me an unquestionable comfort in an uncertain world, as I feel more like an expert.

In a complex world, my TDL is simple and holds bullet points, one after the other.

In an ambiguous world, a black text on white paper is so prominent.

And each time we tick a box in our TDL, we have a hit of Dopamine. And we can put whatever we want on our TDL. We can even find pleasure in adding things to it and watching our list from time to time.

With TDLs, we always have FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

So we multiply the lits, their length becomes longer and longer. We try to dilute our fears by spreading them into multiple TDLs.

Often, TDLs are not in line with who we are or who we want to be.

This is where a TBL becomes handy. Like the dark side of the moon, it takes courage to venture into those uncharted territories reserved for the happy few. Those are the people who want to harness true power: the power of being themselves.

A TBL is a To-Be List. And if you imagine who you want to be, you can quickly see that it will be a list with maybe 3 to 4 entries.

And most importantly, you will only have one single list. And this is the power and the challenge of a TBL.

TBL OR FAITH DIRECTED — The challenge of having a TBL is all the hard work we have to put up front. The power resides in the compound effects of knowing who we want to be.

Often in the list of things we do, most are done to get something from others, please them, or avoid conflict.

We are seeking external validation and keeping us busy to avoid the pain of reflection. Yet, we are depriving ourselves also of the pleasure of being our true selves.

Having our faith built from within will liberate us from the VUCA world and help us be more resilient against external changes if required.

Knowing who we want to be will direct our faith to a mission of being that individual we have been looking for our entire life.

We can do so many things in life. Yet if we want true evolution, we cannot go in all directions. We must remain focused and direct our faith to shed light from within.

The power and compound effects of striving to have a TBL is that a TBL is the ultimate TDL. Indeed if we truly pursue who we want to be, we will also accomplish things that we would have never imagined in our wildest To-Do list.

Coming back to my yearly SMART objectives, I often have found that I do not always see how achieving them can be beneficial to me.

What I mean by that is the fact that hitting targets just for the sake of the exercise does not make me a better leader. It does not bring me life values to guide me when the going is tough, like right now in the aerospace industry hit by Covid-19.

Maybe I have been too complacent and too lazy to rely only on my professional life to make me a better being. Perhaps I have invested too much, I have sacrificed too much for where I am today that the “who I am” is paying the price.

I will share with you what is in my TBL. I just want to wear that my TBL is a living thing. It evolves as I grow and continue my journey to a meaningful life.

In my TBL list reside 3 beings:

  • The student of life: I want to see life as a learning opportunity both from experiences and people.
  • The waterman: I have to go with the flow as much as possible on things out of my control.
  • The ray of sunshine: I want people I interact with to remember me, not as someone who dimmed their light, more as someone who fed their shine.

By having those 3 beings as my companions in every interaction, I have the best of To-Do lists in every action. I need nothing more.

So TDLs are great tools if we just want to tick boxes. If we’re going to achieve the ultimate change in our life, we have to go for the giant list: the TBL.

How long is your TDL? How many do you have?

Do you have a TBL? Would you like to create one?

What are your tips and tricks for a great TDL or TBL?

Leave a comment below.

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