Making a List

In spite of the joyous nature of the holiday season, this time of year is often experienced as downright chaotic and overwhelming.

There’s a general increase in required output, like social and gifting obligations, and it juxtaposes with the natural rhythms of the darkest time of year (in the Northern hemisphere). According to Nature, our energy ought to be quiet, inward focused, stocking up on rest. Think of the seed in winter. Its job is to lay low and survive winter. Come spring it will put down roots and grow, putting out lots of energy, but for now, dormant is the word.

Well—the holidays are here to stay. So is winter solstice. Short of getting Christianity to name a new DOB for Jesus, the juxtaposition is permanent. The question becomes, how to best cope?


One of my very best tools for dealing with overwhelm and chaos is a good old-fashioned list. 

When my clients show up frazzled, panicked or paralyzed, making a list is the first thing I turn to. I ask “What’s really important right now? Today? This minute?” Lists prioritize and itemize. They provide a clear way to choose a focus, and to focus on one thing at a time. This plus mindful breathing brings an immediate sense of peace.



The trick to making a list, checking it twice, is to include not only those things the world requires of you, but also the things that best express love and care toward yourself. Quiet time, time in Nature, time spent soaking in beauty—whatever your version is of nurturing your heart, mind, soul, and body.

A list also helps to set boundaries, in the most basic way. If you make your list and follow it, not only will you likely finish the day with a sense of accomplishment, but you will also have good reason to say “no” to the inevitable unexpected demands that come up. These demands are “fires” to be put out. They will be there, blazing away. The question is, can you walk by with a smile and a nod, knowing it’s not your fire? That’s someone else’s blaze, and stopping to battle its flames will only fan your own, increasing the level of chaos you face. Let it go. Choose peace. It takes tremendous discipline, but it’s SO worthwhile!

Coach’s Challenge: Help yourself during the holidays to keep on your chosen path—to avoid whirling in circles and ending up tired and unhappy. This week, make a list each night of the top 3 things you need to do the next day to achieve the greatest possible contentment. If you are unable to finish one of those things, it goes on top of the next day’s list. Go ahead, leave a comment below!


Lindy MacLaine of is a Life Purpose Coach whose messages empower and inspire those in the second bloom of life to reclaim their dreams, reignite their passions and rekindle their joy.

She is the author of the fantasy adventure book The Curse of the Neverland, for those ages 9-90 who loved the Neverland and wanted to go there for something far more than Spring Cleaning.