Listful Thinking - by Paula Rizzo

Oprah Quotes

  1. "You become what you believe."

  2. "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."

  3. "Turn your wounds into wisdom."

  4. "You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it."

  5. "I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we're not wise enough to see it."

  6. "Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher."

  7. "When you know better--you do better."

  8. "I don't believe in failure. It's not failure if you enjoyed the process."

The act of writing something down is powerful. In fact, Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor at the Dominican University of California, found that writing down goals will make you 33 percent more likely to achieve them.

There's a therapeutic and calming effect to writing a list. Using lists to map out the pros and cons of a situation is also extremely helpful when making a difficult decision.


  1. Start listing. I write down whatever comes to mind--even if it seems like a minor detail. Think like a journalist: Who? What? Where? When? Why? Think of these details when you begin your list. You need to be objective and to look at the facts first. Try not to inject too much opinion while you make this list. Just get everything down on paper. You can prioritize and give each item weight later.

  2. Revise. Once you've written down all your thoughts, assign value to them. Also, consolidate similar points so that you don't end up with a long list that could overwhelm you.

  3. Sleep on it.

  4. Weigh your options. Think about each option critically and envision what your life would be like if you had to deal with each one.

  5. Talk it out. If you're having difficulty deciding what to do, talk with a friend, your spouse, or a coworker.


The idea behind a research list is that you can work out the details for just about anything you need help planning:

  • Places to get your hair cut in your new neighborhood

  • Finding a housekeeper

  • Learning to eat better

  • Finding a home

  • Taking a trip

  • Ways to make more money

Begin by making a list of all the things you hope to accomplish or to learn about your given topic. I often use this type of list when planning a trip or a big event. Everything can be broken down into lists to help you organize your thoughts.


When I said I make a list for everything, I wasn't kidding:

  • Books to read

  • Restaurants to try

  • Clothes I need to buy

  • TV series to catch up on

  • Websites I want to visit

I like to call these lists catalog lists. These are lists of things, not tasks.


This is one of my favorite types of lists because it's so personal. If you aren't a list maker yet, start with a life list. A bucket list itemizes all the things you want to do before you "kick the bucket." Any dream, however big or small, should go on this list. I like to write my life list in a notebook, but you can do anything that works for you. The value of a life list is immense. Yes, it's great to dream, but I believe that once you write something down, you set an intention that moves things in that direction--whether consciously or subconsciously.



  1. Just write it down.

  2. Organize your list. Once you know many of the things you have to do, organize this list. Break it up into categories: work, home, kids, play, etc. Each area of your life should have its own list. Without categories, your list will overwhelm you, and then you will ignore them.

  3. Prioritize. Once you have your separate lists, go over the items on each and order them by deadline or importance. This will help you to stay on track and focus only on what needs to be done right now.

  4. Rewrite.

  5. Repeat.


I now make a list when I get together with friends. When I know I'm going to see a friend, I start jotting down things that I need to tell her. Sometimes I do this over time by keeping a separate page in a notebook or a list dedicated to just that person in one of my many apps. I'll include everything and anything noteworthy to tell this person. Silly and serious things make the list, and it's important for me to write them down or else I'll never remember everything I want to tell.


Dinner Parties

  • Ask open-ended questions, not ones that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

  • Compliment someone. This could spark a conversation about where the earrings you pointed out came from, which could get the ball rolling for an interesting exchange.

  • Bring up current events. I would stay away from politics and religion until you know the person better, but all other subjects should generate some good banter.

  • Talk about food. Ask about restaurants the person likes or places they have visited in your city. People are usually very passionate about this subject.

Questions to Keep on Hand

  • What was the best part of your day today?

  • What was the last movie you saw?

  • What type of books do you like to read?

  • If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

  • Do you play any instruments or speak any other languages?

  • What type of kid were you?