The Decision to Try

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. —Unknown

by Rachael Dupree

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. (

OK, I have something I must confess. Are you ready for this? Deep down among my craziest quirks and idiosyncrasies, I am, at heart, a list maker.

That’s right, a list maker.

I like to play it off sometimes that I’m carefree and spontaneous—that the best things in life happen in pure acts of serendipity—but it just isn’t so. I’ve got my life so completely organized that I can’t function without a list.

I have lists for work …

… and for the grocery store.

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Lists for crafts I want to make…

… and presents I need to buy … 

… and recipes that I hope to goodness I will finally get around to making one day.

It can be exhausting sometimes, especially when I lose a list, and to my to-do list, I add a note to recreate another list.

The truth of the matter is, though, I’m at home around my list-making comrades. I was born into a long line of listmakers, and my co-workers are particularly adept at list-making. (We’re editors and farmers; it must be in our blood.) Even most of my friends are the list-making types—in fact, as I’m writing this, a friend and I are making plans to cross an item (#6 Lick drippy ice cream) off our “Seize the Last of Summer” list.

Doesn’t it feel good to cross off list items? (Especially when drippy ice cream is involved!) To put a strike through text on a notepad gives you the complete satisfaction that, why yes, something was actually accomplished today. If you’re lucky, maybe it was even multiple somethings. The feeling is decadent.

I think that the reason we list makers linger in the lusciousness of a big ol’ checkmark is that it is evidence that we made the decision to try something, and then we actually succeeded in making it happen.

Some of my life’s deepest pleasures started out as simple scribbles on paper:

  • Order seeds: This led to a garden full of juicy red tomatoes.
  • Apply for class: Tips on the best time to harvest my lavender and dill
  • Buy plane tickets: A trip to Washington state, where I (quite serendipitously in fact) met an organic farmer with the most beautiful garden I’ve seen and most delicious lettuce I’ve ever tasted
  • Call Jane: Beautiful, locally grown zinnias to grace my coffee table
  • Pick up garden fencing: A compost bin full of nutritious homemade dirt
  • Shoot bee video: Fodder for and some honey for my morning toast
  • Make quiche: The chance to delight in the tastes of the season in the presence of some of my dearest friends

Sometimes items stay on the list for a long time—days and even months—but I can guarantee that nothing quite as amazing as the things above would have happened if I didn’t make a decision and write it on paper.

So whether you think I’m a complete kook or, in your own list-making finesse, can whole-heartedly relate, I dare you today to make the decision to try. Cross something off your list, and bask in the sense of accomplishment it brings. 

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