WHAT IS A LIFE LIST?
A life list is a simple list of adventures you want to experience.
While some people refer to this as a bucket list, I much prefer the term life list. I’ve found that many people who create “bucket lists” often place too much importance on the quantity of things they want to do. They’ll race through a 100 things on their list just for the pleasure of crossing things off!
I’ve even known some people who put together a “bucket list” and then found that it became more of a burden than a joy. By using a life list, you can more easily place a spotlight on the quality of your experiences. While the speed at which you reach your goals may be much slower, I guarantee that the adventures themselves will be much richer.
THE LIFE LIST OF JOHN GODDARD
“To dare is to do … to fear is to fail.”
I first heard about the concept of creating a life list when I was in my mid-teens. I read about a man named John Goddard who, when he was 15 years old, had created a list of 127 life-time goals. This list included not only mountains to climb and rivers to explore, but also things to accomplish – like becoming an Eagle Scout, learning French, Spanish and Arabic, and building his own telescope.
(At the time of this writing, Mr. Goddard has completed all but 12 items from his life list. You can check out the full list on his website at JohnGoddard.Info.
After being inspired by Goddard’s list and the life he created with it, I became inspired to make a life list of my own. The difference between Goddard’s list and mine, though, is that while I lost my list somewhere along the way and proceeded to drift through life with no actual plans for adventure made or achieved, John maintained his list and took active steps towards achieving his goals. He used his list as a jumping off point for an incredibly adventurous life.
HOW TO CREATE A LIFE LIST THAT WORKS
How can you create a life list that you will actually use to add adventure to your life? After much thought, consideration and experimentation with my own list, I offer these suggestions:
Begin Your Life List with Brainstorming
Sit down when you’ve got a good block of time to work, grab a pen and paper (or a keyboard!) and prepare yourself for fun!
If there are already certain adventures that you’ve decided are “must be’s”, then write these down. Then, take some time to brainstorm some additional goals.
It might help you to work within various sub-areas. John Goddard’s categories included:
- Study Primitive
- Explore Underwater
- Swim In
You might also consider using categories such as:
- Travel (Visit the Top 10 National Parks…)
- Experiences (Ride in a hot air balloon…)
- Physical Feats (Biking, Running…)
- Skills and Knowledge (Learn to speak Italian, take a calligraphy course…)
To help you with your brainstorming I’ve put together a simple PDF with various categories and room to note your ideas. Click Here => Life List Brainstorming Worksheets
Make Sure This a List of Things You WANT To Do
You may think that this step could go without saying. I’m saying it anyway because, as previously noted, in my experience many people will create as big and as long a life list as they can. I call this a “kitchen sink” type of list because it includes, as the saying goes, “everything but the kitchen sink!”
I suggest that you begin to create your list slowly. Really. A life list created thoughtfully and purposefully over the period of a week or so will have much more value to you than a slap-dash list of 101+ items added to it on a whim.
Going places you’re not really interested in and doing things that aren’t really near and dear to your heart will not serve to add more adventure or enjoyment to your life. You’ll either find yourself ignoring those items on your list, and/or spending time and money for things you don’t really WANT!
This isn’t a “Wish List,” so Don’t Treat it Like One!
Again – only add the most important adventures to your life list. This means things that you actually want and plan to do.
You will find that narrowing your life list items in this way will actually result in a list of adventures you have a greater chance of fitting into your life. In this case, less really IS more! Better to have a life list of 15 adventures you really can create is far better than a list of 100 adventures that you will likely never follow through on.
If you keeping coming up with list items you’re really on the fence about, I recommend that you start a secondary list – a “Maybe” list, if you will. You can add items to the ‘Maybe’ list and be comfortable knowing they won’t be forgotten, and that you can take some more time later to research them further and make a decision.
Dream Big, but Dream Honest
Dream honest? Huh…?
Dreaming honest means that you remain aware that there are some adventures that just won’t be possible for you. Some folks may think that, by saying this, I’m not allowing people to really reach for big dreams. That’s not what’s intended here.
Take me, for example. When I was much, much younger and much, much, much more physically fit, I dreamed of being a ballet dancer. And not just any ballet dancer, but a Prima Ballerina!
As a child, this dream/goal/adventure was still a possibility for me. But now, over 50 and more-than-plump, I can be realistic about the fact that starring in Swan Lake is just not in my future!
That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t list items that are still do-able components of this dream. I can still take on the adventure of taking ballet classes for adults! I can buy a leotard and ballet shoes and dance my heart out if I so desire! (And I do!)
Remember that Time and Money ARE an Issue
This goes hand-in-hand with suggestion above. You CAN have tremendous adventures throughout your life, but keep in mind that you WILL have to come up with the time and the money necessary.
If you want to live a year of adventure on the beaches of Thailand, you most certainly can – as long as you can put together a plan that will provide you with the time and the money to do that! So – if that year is more of a “wish” than an adventure you have a strong, true desire to experience, then don’t put it on your list!
Be “Stingy” With This List
Make sure that you add items that are really personal and significant to YOU. Just because your friends all have a list that includes “visit Paris,” don’t add that to your own list unless you really, really (really!) want to visit the City of Lights. Don’t include a goal to read “Ulysses” unless you know what you’re getting yourself into and you STILL want to read it!
Remember, these are your dreams and adventures, not your partner’s, not your child’s, and not your best friend’s. Don’t embark on any adventure if you’re only doing it so you can brag about it later!
Don’t Pad Your List!
You may at some point be tempted to add a few small and “easy peasy” items to your list, just so you’ll have something that you can quickly cross off your list. Resist that temptation!
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, add something like “visit Vancouver” to your list just because you know that your company is sending you there next week. If it’s truly an adventure you’ve always wanted to have, then OK. If not, though, please don’t use it just to pad your list!
Sometimes Good Things Come in Small Packages
Remember that each item you add to your list should be significant. Significant, though, doesn’t necessarily equate to something that’s huge and difficult, either.
For example, you may have a strong desire to try sushi or take a one-day scrapbooking class. Those are valid list items, even though you can cross them off your list within a day if you so desire. Just remember to try and keep it real, as the kids say…