“10 Ways to Happiness in the New Year”

Since about mid-December I’ve been either reading on Facebook, or receiving in my inbox, all sorts of lists. Sure I saw them throughout the year, but they seemed to increase exponentially toward the end of the year. Even now I am willing to bet that if I were to scroll through my Facebook news feed I could find several posts from friends titled something such as “10 ways to Happiness in the New Year”, “5 Tips for Securing the Job of Your Dreams”, or “7 Things You Didn’t Know Could Freeze in a Polar Vortex”. Each of these lists is well and good…I suppose. I read a top ten list for how to keep warm, and did almost half of them, but was still cold on Monday when it was -9 as the high (not including windchill)–I’m actually still cold now. I worry that if the students I teach focus on all of the tips being given to them regarding the job search process they will forget to be themselves and won’t realize that they, too, are interviewing the place of employment. Perhaps it makes sense that many people leave their first job. I also do find myself chuckling when I read a list that allows me to identify myself–“20 things that people from Iowa do” or “10 items those who went to college in the 90s can relate to”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a list maker…a “to do” list maker. I learned a long time ago that making a “to do” list for my day helped me to get more done, or so it seemed (and still does!) each time I crossed an item off the list. And I’ve pretty much stuck to this method. Each morning I wake up and write my “to do” list for the day (sometimes I do it the night before). Crossing items off throughout the day, and moving things to the next day’s list that I didn’t accomplish (occasionally I feel guilty for doing this, but often chalk it up to my own fault for having put too many items on my daily “to do” list). This method of creating a “to do” list works well for me, but of course I don’t put things on my list that I think I can’t get done. I certainly don’t need one more list telling me 10 things that really just aren’t achievable with my skills and habits.

Maybe the lists are rubbing me sour these days because they present the information they are offering as though it is a simple checklist. “You, too, can have balance in your life if you just follow these five tips” and then the site goes on to list tips such as “put yourself first” or “make time to exercise”, as though either of those tips is easy to just wake up and start doing. Maybe a worthwhile list would be one that outlines the process of hard work, energy, and renegotiating that often goes into being able to check anything off a list. Such a list would be much more congruent with my experience, although perhaps it doesn’t seem as inspiring as all of the other lists floating around. I’m sure that such a list exists…perhaps I will put locating it on my “to do” list for tomorrow.


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