Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Positive list

Once again I got inspired to a blog post by Bob the Valley woodworker.

He is listing up all the stuff that he has made during the year and compared it to what his plans had been.

Years ago I would often feel that I never got anything done, and when I went to sea, I was frustrated and irritated that I hadn't completed anything while at home.

I discussed it with my mom, and she told med that she once had the same feeling after a long summer holiday, but her way out of it had been to make a "positive list". This list contained all the things that she had done, some big and some small, but writing them all down had helped her remember that she had done things during the summer, though not all of them were visible.

One of the drawbacks of being a seaman is that about a week or so after joining the ship, it is easy to suddenly feel sorry for yourself because you miss your family. If you immerse yourself in that sorry feeling, it is really difficult to get the mood back up again.
I think that the same might be true for a lot of other professions/people, maybe people have great ideas and expectations to a summer holiday or a long weekend, and then come Monday - not all that was dreamed of was actually completed.

My solution to this has been to write a "positive list".
I generally write it one week after coming on board, because that makes me remember the time at home.

There are no limits to how small or big a project that can enter the list. If I deem that it was a positive thing - it will go on the list.

In the beginning it is easy to think that "nah - this is too silly, I can't write this", but it is your list, so if eating a hotdog on a Friday afternoon make you happy - it can go on that list.

Once all those little things are written down, there is suddenly a long list of stuff that you have completed - and you wonder how on earth you had the time to do all that. And then you might forget that you were feeling sorry for not completing one specific part of another project.

As an example, my list for July - August 2018 looks like this: (It is the actual list, not something I have made up)

  • Washed Bent (horse) with a water hose.
  • Riding in the forest with Mette.
  • Sold the Lambretta scooter.
  • Made MiniMax hydroplanes with the boys.
  • Processed a little bit of firewood from the treeline next to the field.
  • Distributed rodent poison.
  • Installed new hinges on a door in the stable.
  • Attended Vildbjerg Cup with Asger and Mette (4 day soccer tournament).
  • Attended two FCM games with Asger (pro soccer games).
  • Attended Danmarks Cup Kallehavegaard with Gustav (3 day horse tournament).
  • Picked Up Laura in Viborg upon her returning from Interrail.
  • Driven Laura back to her dormitory after the summer holiday.
  • Visit from Jens in Japan (my younger brother).
  • Driven a lot in the green Volvo Valp.
  • Went to the beach with Bertha numerous times at Sillerslevøre (near our summer house).
  • Visited mom and dad.
  • Had mom and dad visit us.
  • "Delivered" Gustav to his boarding school.
  • Driven Asger and his soccer team to Lemvig for a match.
  • Made apple cider.
  • Changed the battery on the Wheelhorse and the ATV.
  • Helped Asger to change a tire on his moped.
  • Had a visit from my coworker and his family.
Often there will feature bullet points about food that I have made, or had morning coffee with one of my friends in his garage. 
The general idea is that all this is something that I feel have contributed in a positive way to me.

So if you ever feel just a bit down and sorry for yourself for not reaching all your goals, it might be worth trying to make a list like this. 
Just remember that nothing is too small to go on the list. If it meant something positive to you, write it down.  By keeping those lists, you can later look back at them and remember specific positive moments. Some of them might have been positive to others as well, like giving your wife a bouquet of flowers, or walking the dog etc.

Positive moment from November 2018.

Positive moment from November 2018.

Very positive moment from December 2018.
(Asger is taking the picture)



  1. Replies
    1. Hi Brian

      It is so easy to get caught up thinking that. I didn't do diddlysquat this time at home, but such a list is proof to yourself that you actually did.


  2. Good inspiration for a new year :-)

    Hope you are doing well and congratulations on the new job.

    1. Hi Mikkel

      My first list sadly disappeared since it was on the computer of my first ship in Troms Offshore, and that ship was suddenly taken back by the owner while I was at home, so I lost the first 3 years.
      Not that it is a huge deal, but I actually like to look over the list once in a while.

      Happy New Year to you and your family as well.


  3. Your Mom was right Jonas, I have been making such lists for as long as I can remember.

    I have long switched to using Excel Spreadsheets (more convoluted that way :-) and breaking down one liner tasks into a myriads of subtasks.
    that way I can make progress however slow :-)

    Bob, and his bursting at the seams, convoluted Excel spreadsheets

    1. Hi Bob

      It has sure helped me, and especially since it is so easy to feel sorry for yourself after a week or so on board a ship.

      I only make the lists for positive stuff that I have done, and then there are maybe 6 bulletpoints of things I would like to do when I get home, but that is just as a reminder to myself.