A Simple Little Total-Life Evaluation

TotalLife-EvalI didn’t know till I was seated at a table across from the evening’s speaker that I had come, unwittingly, to a talk on fashion. I, who believe that God invented blue jeans so we wouldn’t have to think about such things, was about to get the scoop on what to wear, as though perhaps a small committee had met privately and hammered out the guidelines. As my wardrobe will convincingly attest, I learned no fashion tips that night, but the speaker did say one thing that to this day is etched onto my brain.

She began by saying that we will all die with to-do lists. She noted that our lists seem only to grow, never to shrink. And so, her wisdom was this:

Accept the fact that your to-do list will never be completed, and so, while you are whittling away at it, make relationships the centerpiece of your life.

This wise woman—dressed, I must say, most becomingly—suggested that we might trade in the frank impossibility of ever finishing a to-do list for the entirely possible endeavor of forming relationships that matter. I may not have her phrasing precisely as she spoke, but I’m quite sure of the meaning.

When it comes to our to-do lists, there is a behavior we persist in without rhyme or reason. With no evidence whatsoever that we can, or will, complete our list of tasks, nevertheless we get up every morning determined to give it just one more try. Every morning. Every day of our lives.

But what if, instead, today we got out of bed and said, “Today while I am nibbling away at my to-do list, I’m going to keep my focus centered on being with God and other people in ways that are loving and important, growing in bonds that will last for time and all eternity”?

totallife-eval_bioLinda McCullough Moore is the author of more than 200 works of fiction, essay, memoir, and poetry, including a short story collection, a literary novel, and The Book of Not So Common Prayer (where you’ll find this story and many more). She lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches creative writing workshops.

From The Book of Not So Common Prayer ©2014 Linda McCullough Moore (Abingdon Press) Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. 2 months ago
    Venessa Crawford says

    Hi i spoke to a clinical psycologist the other day and she also gave me the best advice ever…. i was always trying to do 50 things at one time with the idea that there is not enough time to do everyting… she just told me your plate is way to full. take the things you can do something about and keep them on the plate, the things that have happened you cant change or do anything about. push them off the plate. only keep what you can do, you cant control how people feel, what they do, you cant control the loss of a loved one…. empty that plate.

  2. To Do List:

    1) Throw away the “To Do” list :-)

    Thank you and blessings,
    Sandra Brooks McCravy <3

  3. 2 months ago
    Peggy Haines says

    I never used to have this problem, but I have been hurt by mean and harsh words for quite some
    time now, and I know it is not all my fault. It really breaks my heart when I learn that people I trust
    are deceiving me and trying to trick me. I do not think that is kind or fair.

    I have gotten better at overlooking people’s cruelness, but it is never easy for me. I do have some
    long term relationships that I love and enjoy and want them to grow more beautifully. Sometimes I
    have way to much to process because there are so many judging me instead of loving me that life gets hard. It always surprises me because I spend alot of my time caring for my family and other
    ministries. Why cannot they not see this? I will try harder to be loving, quiet, and patient.

  4. I love this,I believe if we put God first in our day and then stop and look at what is most important next we will be so much more happy and blessed,there is nothing like starting your day with our Lord.Next friends and family are so very important,the cleaning laundry,etc.will always be with us but friends and family won’t.God Bless!

  5. 2 months ago
    Christina says

    I concur! we are so focused on making to-do lists not realizing we won’t be able to fully complete the list. If we do our mind is so focused on getting though the list that our focus on God isn’t truly there! I love this post!

  6. Great reminder….. God, family and relationships to me are very important… the to do list will always be there , like bills!

    Passing on your message !
    Thank you!
    Kangen Girl :)

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