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My Top One Lists | An Essay by Dennis O’Toole

My Top One Lists | An Essay by Dennis O'Toole

My Top One Lists | An Essay by Dennis O’Toole

Chicago writer Dennis O’Toole interviewed our Sue Becker when researching his Morning News essay, My Top One Lists about his resolution to become more culturally aware.

…I have resolved that 2015 will be different from 2014 (and ’13 and ’12 and ’11). This year, I will keep up. I even have a plan.

I expect our conversation to begin with my first steps, but Becker, strangely, does not start by praising my ambition or my capacious curiosity. Instead, she asks if I have a bigger goal. Am I trying to consume movies and music and novels more mindfully, or am I going after a number?

‘Uhhhh,’ I say.

‘Those are things that are supposed to bring you joy. Your pursuit of a number is going to be counterproductive.’

Becker offers no to-do list, no schedule, no secret key from the shadowy underworld of time management. What I get instead is a mirror held smack in my grill. And brother, was it ugly.

Becker is right; the pursuit of numbers has been counterproductive. ‘I’ve a thirst on me I wouldn’t sell for half a crown,’ James Joyce wrote, and that’s how I feel. So why am I planning to sell my thirst to any new thing that comes along?

What would become possible if you or a productivity coach held a mirror up to your resolutions? What might happen if you gave up the number to pursue the joy? Read the full essay here to see how Dennis kept his plan yet changed his approach.

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