It’s a relief to my stressed-out mind when I’ve accomplished a long-term goal, like clearing space in my overstuffed, underused bookshelves.
I love it when my husband tells me that he’s arranged our entire travel plans, or when the accountant proposes a clever tax report that can be finished well before the deadline. It’s magical to be one step ahead.
So, when I tell people that “I will, I will, I promise I will . . . ,“ I say it with conviction, but cringe a little bit inside because I know I’m reacting – I’m trying to catch up. Perhaps a few failed attempts to get up early enough to have a beautiful morning of uninterrupted productivity. Probably too many caffeine-fueled days that did not yield quality work. A few missed school deadlines for my son that I thought I could easily accomplish.
Maybe that’s why I need five-star service when I go out. It’s a panacea, a quick fix to hear a waiter say “Certainly . . . Of course . . .” It makes me happy to know that something will, most certainly, be done.
Julia: My priorities seem to ebb and flow. Something that seemed really important two weeks ago is now at the bottom of my to-do list. There’s something far more important at the top now. Why? Because of “I will”, which I utter far too often!
I hear a request, someone moans and what happens? I cry, “I’ll do it!”. Everyone relaxes . . . except me. Why did I offer to do it? I grab a piece of paper and scribble a reminder to myself. I can proof-read the new flier on my way to work, I’ll stop off at the store and pay that outstanding bill, and I’ll pop into at my favourite gift shop to get a wedding present for Jack. I promise myself that I will stop saying “I will” some day.
But there are some “I will’s” that I really like:
When people drop into Hong Kong on their way to or from abroad. The hurried phone call saying “We’re free this evening.” “I will book a restaurant” I promise enthusiastically. We have a lovely dinner. The tasks ear-marked for that evening move down my to-do list.
Another “I will” that I enjoy, “We’re having a party, can you be there?” “I will, I will. Where? Venice? I will, I’ll be there.” I reply with delight. More tasks fall down that list.
But the best “I will’s” are for my family. “Can I see you for lunch?”, “Would you help me choose a new outfit?”, “I’d like to ask you about my portfolio.” These are the requests that bump all priorities down my list – and I love it that they do.