in the middle of a list

Not too long ago, I was browsing WordPress, and came across a blog where someone had posted a list of things that they want to do in their lifetime. It’s sort of like a bucket list, but they’d given it a special kind of name. Unfortunately, I did not write this down, and do not remember the name of the blogger or the blog, but I do remember their list. Well, not the items on the list, but the existence of the list, and how they’d progressively crossed off many things on the list. (Come to think of it, it might’ve just been called “The List”. If you know the owner of this List, or you are the owner of The List, please let me know, and I will give full credit.) 

There were a lot of big things on this person’s list, like overseas travel and whatever, but there were some “smaller” goals too – things that you could wake up tomorrow and accomplish. A lot of the things on the list probably appear on many people’s bucket lists, but I vaguely remember some original ones. I don’t usually pay much attention to these things (probably because they’re usually quite clichéd and/or irrelevant to my life, although they are usually quite interesting), and I suppose I didn’t pay too much attention to this one either since I don’t remember much of it, but something about it stuck with me.

I think what it was, was that you could see that they were working toward getting all of the things done – they’d already crossed off several items. And I suppose I just thought it must be really gratifying for them to be able to see all the great things that they’ve done so far. I reckon it’s great to have goals and dreams – big or small – but it’s also good to look back now and then, and remind ourselves that we’ve done alright so far.

I’ve always had some idea of the things I’d like to do in my lifetime, but never wrote a proper bucket list or wish list. After seeing this person’s list, however, I thought I’d write one of my own. I think I was just in a very particular mood at the time – some variation of the so-called quarter-life crisis in which one wonders if one has done enough with one’s life – and I figured this was probably the kind of boost I needed.

Anyway, it’s not a very big list – only about twenty items on it – but I guess it’s a good start. And I made a point to include “small” things as well as loftier ambitions. More importantly though, I included things that I’d already accomplished and was proud of – the things that would’ve been on the wish list if I hadn’t already done them. Well, actually, I made two separate lists: the To Do List, and the Accomplished List.

And then, not too long ago, I came across a TED article about “how our projects shape our personalities”, and I suppose it kind of all linked together in my mind, and made sense. It’s sort of about how we should look at our personalities not only in terms of what we have (personality attributes) but also in terms of what we do or want to do (our personal projects).

So now I believe that you’re never too old or too young to make a bucket list, or whatever you want to call it, and it’s ok to revise it from time to time (probably a good idea, especially considering some of the life goals I had as a kid were probably quite silly). But if this seems too daunting – if you feel as if you’d be overwhelmed by the number of things you want to do but haven’t done (honestly, this is probably why I never wrote a proper bucket list before – for fear of being overwhelmed by it) – then write a list of things that you’re pleased you have already done. I felt a lot better about my list by doing it this way.

And, yes, include the small things.

I’m still not sure if I want to share my full list here, since I’m still adding to it, and editing it, but I figured I should give some examples.

In terms of what I’d call “larger goals” (things that generally require more planning/preparation), my To Do List includes things like visiting Scandinavia, and visiting Canada (preferably in winter or autumn); but going to the Sapporo Snow Festival, and writing a novel are both already on the Accomplished List.

For my “smaller goals” (things I could theoretically just do tomorrow), I want to one day make profiteroles (I’ve been told this is actually quite easy), and go for an impromptu road trip; but I am content knowing that I’ve already had a go at snowboarding and boxing (not at the same time, of course…)

Running 10km in under an hour is also on the Accomplished List, but this probably counts as a bigger goal. Running in the rain is also ticked off (not just a light drizzle, but a decently drenching downpour).

What’s even more gratifying is the fact that my Accomplished List is actually a bit longer than my To Do List. But if I think about this too much, I start worrying that I need more things on the To Do List, as if this imbalance puts me past some sort of halfway mark, and maybe I’m not challenging or pushing myself enough. But then I tell myself that the important thing is to have something on each list; the number doesn’t matter. And, actually, I haven’t done much with the list recently (in terms of adding/editing/looking at it) but it’s sort of just there to help re-orientate myself when I need it.

14 thoughts on “in the middle of a list

  1. Many years ago, shortly after I graduated from university, I was asked if I had a list of life goals … this was long before the term ‘bucket list’ came about. I was urged to make one, because without one, there was a tendency in most people’s lives to drift along without proactive intent.

    I mostly ignored that advice – until a few years ago. I now keep a list of “New Things” which is updated regularly. For this year, it currently has 268 items on it of which 106 have been completed so far this year. As you can imagine with a list of that size, it includes items both very big and very small, and is broken down into categories like Travel, Books, Personal Development, New Foods, Home Projects, and New Experiences. I could probably write an entire blog post about why I added a Book category last year and the effect it’s had on my reading this year.

    I guess my point is, whatever gets measured, gets managed. If you really want to achieve things, the best way that I know how, is to start measuring your progress. A list is a great start!
    Thanks for the link to the TED article. I’m off to check it out now.

    • Your “New Things” list sounds incredible! If you do write a post about the Book category, any of the other categories, or the list as a whole, I’m definitely interested in reading it!

      And that is a good point about “what gets measured gets managed”. I certainly feel less “lost” now that I’ve started my own list. My next step, I suppose, is to track my progress, and make sure I actually keep crossing things off

    • Yes, please! I was actually secretly hoping that someone would offer to share/recommend a recipe 😉
      I’ll send you a message via your site (I don’t think my email appears anywhere here)

  2. I put ‘pistachio’ into search and I found you! I’m so pleased I did. I’ve never written a list because then it would be a constant reminder of how lazy and unmotivated I am. Perhaps I’m looking at it the wrong way. I’m off to write my list. French macarons will be on my ‘to-do’ list.

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