I read a post recently about creating life lists. In the comments section, some of the commenters were giving reasons why they were resistant to writing their own. A lot of their arguments centered on the four biggest myths about life lists.
Myth #1. Life lists create more work and busyness.
After writing my life list, I started cutting out a lot of activities that were consuming my days. Before I had a list, I took on commitments without considering some of the other things I wanted to accomplish or enjoy. There were things that I enjoyed or that made me feel productive that just took more time than I had to give. I didn’t realize all the adventure I was giving up until I wrote my desires down. The list gave me a way, a reason if you will, to minimize my commitments and the power to say NO without excuses or apologies. I gave up being a Girl Scout Leader and a room mom and I stopped working full time for the first time in 17 years. Essentially my life list has given me a road map. Now I can more easily prioritize what I want to do and accomplish before I just thoughtlessly add a new activity or project. And I have replaced some of the good things in my life like Girl Scout leading with a different good thing, like a cupcake fundraiser for a child with cancer.
Myth #2. Life lists breed selfishness
I suppose it depends on your personality and your list, but my experience has been that my life list has brought my family closer. It has made my kids see the hard work and magic that comes together when pursuing dreams. As a result, they have started their own lists. With four kids in the house and a limited budget for pursuing a lot of the things on my list, I focus on list items that involve the entire family.
This is where we need to keep ourselves in check a little bit. I have items on my list that could take me away from my family and cost too much money. To everything there is a season. A lot of my list items will probably happen when Jeff and I are in a different stage of life. Though I am always on the lookout for ways to make things happen sooner.
On the flip side, I want to warn you against judging others for desiring things for themselves. Oftentimes we become so caught up in everyday life that we lose our identity and forget the things that we used to love to do. Going after some of those dreams or old excitements can be healthy for the family if it is done properly and respectfully of your other time commitments.
Myth #3. Your life is not complete if you don’t check them all off before you die.
This is precisely why I don’t call my life list a bucket list. I want to live a full and abundant life. I desire to travel more and experience new things. But if I died tomorrow, I’ve lived an amazing life. No regrets.
In addition, I know that my list will never be completed because I am constantly taking things off my list and putting other things on. I am also trying hard to add more items that are focused on others. Our most recent Sunday Story is a great example of how focusing on other people can lead to a meaningful and abundant life.
Myth #4. You need to Carpe Diem.
Not for me. I’m not crazy about the “seize the day” mentality. That mentality seems to solely focus on the act of doing. I believe that I was made to just “be” sometimes and to savor and enjoy life. To take in life’s brilliance and taste joy despite hardships. Then I can reflect, change course if needed, and even rewrite part of my values and life lists if needed. The act of “seizing” sounds exhausting and daunting. I need to be intentional about what I want to do, but include plenty of room for improvisation. The act of checking an item off my list does not make me more of a person. It is the experience of the act itself that is so important. It is the pure joy I got watching my husband act like a little kid last week when we watched a Diamondbacks game from the pool.
Whatever your excuse for not writing a life list, I encourage you to start. Need help? Feel like you don’t know where to start? Take a look at these posts with some prompts and creative ideas to get in the right frame of mind.
And then check out the tab “Your Lists” in the main navigation bar above. I’m VERY excited to announce that we have added a new feature where you can link up your life list to my blog. I see this as an awesome opportunity to either encourage each other to start a life list or to “borrow” ideas from others to expand the ones we have already made. I think it is going to be great. Please make sure the link is to your life list and not just a link to your blog. I hope this serves as an encouragement to the entire community.
Overall I’m a better person because of the time I’ve taken to write my value list and life list. I’m living more intentionally and more joyfully and I think you will too. I can’t possibly ask for more than that.
Blessings sweet friends – Jenny
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