Personal ponderings from a natural night-owl!

Life Lists

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.

Comments on: "Life Lists" (3)

  1. Sandy McGuire said:

    Why do people tend to make life lists into statements and positions? Possibly because we hear so much negative about the wealthy stars and athletes in this world who don’t care what happens to others or what pain they cause, so long as they have fun and do what they want. Perhaps it’s because so much of our society confuses goals with dreams and tells us that we are defined by our goals. We are a success or failure based on what those goals are and if we meet them or not. Sometimes it’s not allowing oneself to dream because we have been warned about those who dream their lives away and are never responsible for anyone. We fear that if we take time to do something truly big, just for the joy of doing it, we are wasting time that could go to more productive endeavors.

    Sometimes a list is nothing more than taking action to open up your heart to the universe and saying “what should I be doing here?” If you open up your heart, sometimes you get just what you need to not only pursue your dreams, but you help others reach theirs. It’s looking forward to life in all parts of your being. It’s what makes you eat the broccoli to get to the desert. Your list probably helps you be a better parent if for no other reason than to teach your kids to hope and to remind you of how great that feels. Having hope means you’re more likely to encourage others to dream their own dreams. Who cares if the list is written on paper, bits and bytes, in crayon, in the sand, or simply remains in your mind?

    What if the person who is going to cure cancer decided that having a list is morbid. What if JK Rollin decided that creating a novel didn’t belong on a list? What if Mozart had not decided to create a symphony? What if Tiger had not dreamed of winning the masters, or his father had not had on his list to spend time with his son doing whatever his son felt like doing?

    I’m sure that Emily, Megan, and John are glad they are on your list.

  2. Hope is the key word, I think! I am amazed at the number of people I’ve met who feel hopeless or who have abandoned the dreams they had in childhood. It’s not that they CHANGED their dreams, it’s that they stopped allowing themselves to dream altogether.

    A child-like love of life comes from dreaming, hoping, expecting, and believing that your dreams CAN come true. Notice, I said child-LIKE, not childISH. There’s a difference, I think. Kids usually expect the best, notice the beautiful details, anticipate the joy, and look forward to the future with enthusiasm instead of dread. That’s how I want to live!

  3. […] mentioned SMART goals in a past post, but I really didn’t elaborate aside from linking to this summary website, which is an […]

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