Even though my personal life list of things to do before I die has been around since the mid-1980’s, apparently the trend of creating such a list is catching on nation-wide! There was an entire story on NPR’s Talk of the Nation this past Tuesday about life lists and there is even a movie coming out about life lists called “The Bucket List” (things to do before you kick the bucket!) starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
It was interesting to hear people’s opinions in the story (one person called the entire idea of a life list “pathetic and sad”) and to read the blog comments on this story. Some people truly find the idea of a life list appalling, though I really don’t understand why. Perhaps these are the people – and I have known some – what think that if you never have expectations, then you can never be disappointed. But I believe they are also missing out on some of life’s highs trying to avoid the lows.
Some were puzzled by the fact that there are actually professional life coaches to help people accomplish their goals. But really, EVERYONE needs someone to be a cheerleader and support person in his or her life. I am blessed to have a spouse who serves that role for me and saddened for my friends whose spouses treat their dreams as unimportant.
Some people were like me and had been maintaining a list like this for years. Personally, making a life list helped me identify and clarify my heart desires, the things I really wanted to do with my life. Having had an 8 year old sibling die suddenly when I was just 12, I certainly understood sooner than most that life is fleeting. I wanted to be sure to focus in on the activities I truly wanted to accomplish. As I became a parent and my focus shifted away from myself, the list helped to keep me grounded in my own desires so that my personal identify wasn’t subsumed in my children.
In general, I believe goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. (Read more about that here). In contrast, my life list items are more like dreams than goals: they may or may not be attainable and definitely are NOT bound by realism – the point is to dream and dream big! Many of my items aren’t time bound, either, although some are time-related (like earning enough money for John to retire at age 52).
Do you have a life list? What is the most wild, far out thing on it? Do you believe in your heart that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to? That kind of belief in myself is perhaps one of the greatest gifts given to me by my parents – and one of the greatest gifts I hope to pass on to my children.