When I went on Facebook this morning, I saw an advertisement to create your own logo. I dare say that if one was created for me, it would be of a to-do list. I have mentioned this fact in chamber columns of yore, but I have more than two decades of chamber monthly project lists in my desk drawer that read more like a time capsule. Honestly, it is part of who I am to keep myself on track like that. These lists not only remind me what tasks need to be done but keep me in focus when I’m trying to balance a number of projects at the same time.

I have always drafted to-do lists at work but it was only after my husband passed away in 2017 that I started doing them in my personal life. Many call them an “Aspire List,” items you want to test yourself on and accomplish over the next year. My first one, in 2018, was actually written on a restaurant napkin and I am rather proud to say I ticked off most of the boxes that year, including venturing up a mountain in a gondola, staying in a lakeside cabin with my sister and learning how to shoot a gun, so I could target practice with my former Marine son.

If truth is to be told, there is a big difference between crafting an aspire list, of endeavors you would like to tackle, and a to-do list, of duties you have to actually accomplish. In chambers, there is a form of such an aspire list, but it hardly inspires mirth, the one/three and five-year action plans… not the same at all. This year, I vow to branch out more in my work life and draft up such a lofty list, and it is looking to be a combination of whimsical and serious wishes for the months ahead.

This may sound trivial, but I want to figure out a way to have cookie parties at my office with members, once this blasted pandemic is over, breaking bread over cookies. I want a bird feeder outside my work window and I want to hear laughter and life outside my office doors. I want to combine the very best characteristics, and there are many, of my dear colleague and friend, Jenn Garand, in my work life, so her memory is always with me, despite passing away in November. I hope that will help ease my grief, frankly.

I spoke about solving more workforce concerns in last week’s column, but that subject alone will mean an aspire list of its very own, so challenging are the issues facing our businesses. I really want to solve so many more of the problems they face in the years to come. I also want to walk during my lunch hour with my dog, instead of constantly being holed up at my desk, as I am known for taking no work breaks. Like I said, serious and fun tasks.

I also want to take the two bags of beautiful cards I purchased from Green Mountain Books over the last few years and write at least a card a day to members, checking in with them and seeing how they are doing, and, more importantly, how I can help them. Sincerity is an important component of these messages, as these business people are more than just chamber members to me.

The jobs I have done over my decades of work – being a reporter/editor, college marketing manager and chamber executive director – have all been because I wanted to make a difference in this world, trite but true. I don’t want to say at the end of my life that I just pushed mountains of paper. I aspire to change life for the better, at work and at home.

I encourage you to do the same this year, whether you write your work and personal aspirations on a diner napkin or fancy stationery. It doesn’t matter what you write the list on, just that you do it. I think you will find, especially after this last torturous year, that it will be something at year’s end that will give you a real sense of accomplishment.

Darcie McCann is the executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.

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