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The List Of Adventure

“Every man dies, not every man really lives.” – William Wallace

What would you do if you were given a month to live?

Really think about that question for a while. Imagine the conversation with your doctor. Think of your first reactions.

Who would you call? What would you want to do? Where would you go? What would you want to experience before you passed? What would you stop doing? What would instantly become important and what would instantly become unimportant?

With my mother’s recent passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about the impermanence of life. I’ve always been a firm believer in treating each day of life as a gift and being completely present in the moment. More than ever though I find myself maximizing every bit of life out of each and every day. The trees seem greener, the wind against my skin feels stronger, and the time with my friends and family seems richer. I’ve also been giving more thought as to what kind of life I want to look back upon when it’s all said and done.

I’ve had a pretty rough list running around for some time in my head. I’ve also done some exercises in various workshops where we create a “bucket list,” “life list,” or Mondo Beyondo list, so I’ve had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish in my life. Now that I’ve actually experienced the first real loss of my life though, living a purposeful life has become even more of a priority.

With that said, for the past several weeks I’ve been working on refining my list. I use Google Docs for everything so I created a list there and added to and subtracted from it over time. I’ve added things to the list behind the wheel of my car, at lunch with David, at the gym, and even laying down in bed. The wonders of technology.

After I had around 150 items I went through each one and imagined myself actually completing each item. If I didn’t feel totally awesome about the idea of completing the item, then I took it off of the list. Sorry Trans-Siberian Railway.

One observation that I thought was interesting was how difficult it was for me to come up with items in the Financial category. This is usually where someone will put things such as: own a vacation home, drive a Ferrari, make a million dollars from day trading, or own a mansion. Since embracing minimalism I really have no desire for any more things. Life experiences yes, but things no.

There are some items on the list that I’ve already completed, but those are just items that were once on my list that I have completed already. They are still important to me so I left them on there.

All in all, I feel great about my list and am excited for the opportunity to pursue the items on there.


So Why Have a Life List?

If you haven’t ever created a life list, it’s a great exercise to lead you on the path of purposeful living. Just sit down with a blank document or a big piece of paper and start writing. Don’t worry about the logistics involved, how afraid you are, or how much something is going to cost. Just write.

There is no right or wrong way to go about doing this exercise and it can be done alone or with a partner. Many couples have become much closer after agreeing on a set of goals and experiences that they are going to work towards together.

Here are some quick tips for creating your life list:

  • Make the goals clear and measurable. Instead of writing “Save money,” write something more like “Establish an emergency fund with six months of living expenses.”
  • Break your list out into categories that are important to you. My list breaks out this way: Travel, Physical/Health Challenge, Relationships and Family, Life Experiences, Skills and Knowledge, Financial, Career, and Stretch Goals. You might have categories for Spiritual, Service, or Parenting goals.
  • Think big. No goal is too audacious. Some people out there will say to take costs and time into consideration, but you are truly 100% passionate about a goal, I say go for it!
  • And think small. Every item on your list doesn’t have to involve overseas travel or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. For example, I have “go on a blind date” and “milk a cow” on my list. Although they are small goals, those are two things that I have never done that I think would be fun to experience.
  • Make sure each goal has a high level of personal significance. Sure going to outer space and reading all the works of Shakespeare would be quite an achievement, but are they important to you? This is your life, not anybody else’s.
  • Don’t worry about coming up with a specific number. Some people try and get to exactly 100 items, but the number really doesn’t matter. Just like life, your life list should be a work in progress and will get larger or smaller as time passes.
  • Have fun! You shouldn’t feel any negative emotions as you create this list. “Lose 20 pounds” and “Be nicer to dad” shouldn’t be on there. If you don’t anticipate each item with sheer delight, than take it off your life list and put it on your to-do list.

Several of my friends who blog have also shared their lists online to harness the power of public accountability. Here are a few examples of others who have published their life lists for the world to see:

Jenny Leonard
Joel Runyon
Steve Kamb
Jenny Blake
Bekka Scott

Remember, the important part isn’t whether or not you make it public, but whether you do it at all. Take the exercise seriously though. Done haphazardly, a life list can be a vague list of wants and hopes, but taken seriously, a life list can help you live a rich, meaningful life.

If you do end up creating your own life list, I’d love to hear about it. Contact me here or feel free to share your own goals or links to your lists in the comments section.

To see my list click here: The List of Adventure