Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

The Too-Long-Overdue List (and 20 Others)

I was daydreaming a couple of days ago, something I do with great pleasure now that I've calmed down after years of overworking.

The idea of making a Too-Long-Overdue list bubbled up. We should all have one if we are retired or thinking of cutting back on work. The clock ticks. The list nudges us gently toward greater fulfillment.

When there's more time in life, the overdue can finally be struck from the list.

But aren't lists for people trying to get as much done in as little time as possible?

Usually. List-making is the Type-A careerist's power tool. GTD (Get Things Done) has become a cult. Project-management apps — really just data-soaked to-do lists — drive the corporate world right alongside the hallowed spreadsheet.

To the mindful, the maniacal lister is a perturbing specter.

So you'd think listing would be contrary to mindful retirement.

It's not. As long as we remove one thing: the due date.

Lists become calmly benevolent when urgency is eliminated. Add a timeline and a list gets stressful. Dispense with due dates and lists become our friends. Our friendly reminding friends.

In January, I wrote a blog post entitled Lists For Living Large. For some reason, most of us decline clicking on links. But if you want to adopt the benevolent list as one of your magic tools in the post-career life, click on that post. I list six things lists can do for us. I also list 20 lists for this stage of life. These 20 lists — all variations on the Too-Long-Overdue list — could keep an aimless retiree occupied for the remainder of her/his days:

1. Unfulfilled yearnings and dreams

2. Regrets to avoid if you were to die tomorrow

3. Passions inadequately tended

4. Fun in short supply or in need of reclamation

5. Things to release and be done with

6. Things to learn and ways to be educated

7. Ways to be a better human

8. Ways to apply your skills to good for others

9. Experiences to have

10. Places you’ve always wanted to visit

11. Habits to form or break

12. People to know better

13. Ways to get healthier and stronger

14. Worthwhile risks to take for a larger life

15. Neuroses to reduce or eliminate

16. Fears to confront and shrink through exposure

17. Things that keep calling

18. Tasks and projects long overdue that might finally get done

19. Ways to prepare for the future

20. What you stand for — your values — and would like to be reminded of periodically by a list so you can stand a little taller


Need an identity anchor? Go home.

Our beds are not made.