Writing My Life List
I just posted my life list a couple of days ago and I can’t stop feeling like I owe you guys more than that, more than just a list of one hundred things. After all that list is much more than just a list of goals to me. So here’s a little insight into what motivated me to write that list and my thought processes while writing it.
Life isn’t really going the way I planned right now and I was starting to feel really lost. All I had ever really wanted to do in my life was go to college and graduate and well… I hadn’t really thought about what came next because I didn’t think I should worry about that until the time came for me to graduate. I felt like my life couldn’t absolutely go on because I wasn’t preceding in the order I had been expecting it to and that terrified me. The good thing about life is that it’s not that linear. Life isn’t a ladder. Just because you can’t do step one doesn’t mean that every other “step” is shut off from you. That’s why I decided to compile a list of things I wanted to do.
I think I must have read Maggie’s guide to starting a life list 20 times before actually writing my own hoping that I could capture what she had. I wanted people to see me in the list. The person I am now and the person I want to be. I wanted my list to capture my sense of wonder and my desire to do great things, but I also wanted my list to capture my core values and I wanted it to be filled with experiences that I could share with others. It wasn’t easy to say the least. I tried to write a list of things I wanted to feel more of, like Maggie suggests, but I still kept coming up short. What really helped was when I tried to picture 75 year old me and all the experiences I/she must have gone through. My list turned into more than just a simple list of goals and more into a legacy. Then came the actual process.
I wanted my life list to have a good ratio of whimsy to awe to practical. Hence painting my nails (#27) and seeing the 7 wonders of the world (#22) being on the same list as having no debt (#87). Life is just like that. The whimsical and the awe-inspiring draw their allure because they’re unlike the practical, but the practical is necessary for the whimsical and the awe-inspiring to exist. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a house with a backyard (#31) in which to build my snow family (#94).
I also wanted my life list to be about me doing things. Having someone write a song about me isn’t really something that I can control, but I can write my own song (#43). As much as there are plenty of famous people out there that I want to meet I didn’t really want to fill a slot and then have that celebrity turn out to be a jerk or… die on me. And maybe I’m just crazy, but I’d rather tell my grandchildren about the time that I wrote an entire novel in a month (#32) than the time that I totally shook hands with Justin Bieber. I’m smart enough to know that I’d just be greeted with a confused look and a “who’s Justin Bieber?”
My favorite part (and the most essential part imho) of my life list is the first ten items. I like to call it my list of things I’ll fondly regret. You see, I’m kind of a “goodie-two-shoes.” I think things through very thoroughly before I do them and because of that I’ve haven’t really done anything characteristic of people my age. I’m not a stupid teenager, it’s just not in my genes. This is good and bad for many reasons. Good: I’ll never get arrested for getting so drunk that I throw up and urinate on a cop car. Bad: My kids are going to think I’m the most boring person in the world [thanks Ted Mosby for setting the bar so f'ing high]. I decided to come up with ten things that any normal 20-something would do on a fun weekend (like having sex with strangers or drugs), but that I would never in a million years think of doing. Hence the strip club (#9), mardis gras (#10) and the skinny dipping (#3). My kids are going to think I was some sort of rock star. Mission Accomplished.
I’m not going to lie and say that this list completely changed the way I look at my life, but it’s a good start. There are still times when I feel lost and I still haven’t completely stopped looking at life as a series of steps, but this list is proof to me that I’m wrong. My life is just beginning and now I have a “plan,” I have goals to work toward and I know now more than ever what’s important to me.
Oh and PS:
If you’re looking to start a list of your own here are some of the sites that helped me:
- Maggie’s Mighty Life List
- Maggie’s Guide to creating a Life List of your own
- John Goddard’s life list [warning: super ambitious]
- A guide from the New York Times
- Project 183 (not a life list, but has some good ideas)
- 101 ideas and some pointers
- 1000 bucket list ideas
- The Greatest Books, a site that compiles top book lists into one super list
- The AFI’s list of top 100 movies of the past 100 years
- 43 things
- Barefoot List
I would like to take the time to say thank you to Colin for helping me come up with some of the items on this list and for his never-ending patience. Without him this list and my sanity would be non-existent.