Sunday, October 16, 2011

Better than a pipedream: Make a life list

By Shelagh Braley
Sometimes I forget how challenging it is for people to see the value of a life list. I mean, after all, it’s just an inventory of impulses that may never come to life.
But I have been keeping my list for so long now, its worth to me is incalculable. My life list holds the course for all the ambitions I’ve ever had, and creates the momentum I need to make them into goals and then successes. Before I had a list, sure, there were experiences I hoped to have—but the process was static. It just made for cloudy pipedreams. “Maybe I’ll go to Tahiti someday. Wow, Tahiti’s far. It’s an expensive trip. Who will go with me? How will I make time for that? How will I pay for it?”
Each question, driven by a mild fear of the unknown, created an obstacle, a reason it would never happen.
But once I started my life list, it became a dynamic process where I committed in my mind to making good on my goals. I wanted to lose 15 pounds. Done. I wanted to learn to sail. Did that, too. What made the difference? I created and defined my desires. I got practical with them. I got excited about them. I found unlimited support and insight from others who shared my drive to accomplish these things. I became accountable to myself and to my circle of encouragers and advocates—because if they were putting in the mighty effort, why shouldn’t I? I didn’t want to let them down, either, in case they needed just one voice of reassurance to lift them up and inspire them to keep going.
I also learned how to celebrate the accomplishments I had—something many of us are reluctant to do, out of fear of being seen as arrogant, or perhaps just because we don’t see the value in what we’ve done with our lives. When you look at sharing your success as contributing to collective knowledge, when you see yourself as a mentor rather than as a braggart, it becomes easier to look objectively at what you’ve done and learned and see the value in sharing.
There are certainly circumstances (and people) that create obstacles for us and breed an environment of expected failure. It’s that defeatist perspective that seeps into our consciousness, makes the excuses for us, and becomes toxic to our ability to grow and do things that may seem out of our reach. There are those who haven’t ever traveled, or gone to school, or taken a risk at work or even among friends and family—so why should you? It’s up to each of us to decide whether our hope and strength can overpower that tide that pulls us under to mediocrity and tacit acceptance of our place in the world.
I haven’t been to Tahiti yet, but I have done a whole litany of other things that seemed equally out of reach at first. For me, it’s isn’t a matter of how anymore. It’s just a matter of when. Because I have adopted this process of continually setting goals and challenging myself, I know I’ll get there. It will make it to the top of my list soon.
And I’ll shout about it when it does, just in case anyone wants to come with me. I hear Tahiti’s gorgeous all year round.
Shelagh Braley is CEO of GoalsCorp Media, loves to travel and is especially fond of men in sarongs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sometimes you have to create your own wind...

Today is my 41st birthday. And I have been blessed by much this year. I'm engaged to a wonderful woman. I have a beautiful and fun eight year old to spend time with and I've positioned my company with a strategic partner who can help us grow to what it is meant to be, which is to make a difference in people's lives.

As many of you know, I am an avid sailor. The thrill of sailboat racing is something that challenges me given how unpredictable the wind can be. To win a yacht race requires an ability to adapt to what the wind gives you. The times we work hardest are on the extremes, when there is no wind or when the wind is blowing dogs off chains.

When there is too little wind, it takes massive concentration to keep the boat moving. Every little thing that happens on the boat matters as does an awareness of what shifts will occur that can help us avoid a hole. When the breeze is on, it's a struggle to keep the boat in control and ensure that the boat does not get overpowered and wipe out.

Throughout my life, I have done well by focusing on these two extremes. When there is not much going on, I focus on creating new opportunities and developing new relationships. When things are going well, I try to control the momentum to ensure that I do not get caught up and steer off course.

Much of life is on autopilot but it's the extremes that we build into our everyday lives that help us to accomplish our goals. If there are things that you have been wanting to do that you have been putting off, why not share them with others to see if you can create some momentum? If you are overwhelmed by things in your life, why not try to gain some control by seeking out people who can help you?

What ever way the wind blows for you in your life, do all you can to keep moving in the direction of your goals.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Celebrate life's little accomplishments, too

By Sarah "Alys" Lindholm, My Life List Member


As I was writing my 750 words today, I randomly started thinking, "What new things have I done for the first time this year?" So I tried making a list. I'm sure it's incomplete, but it was pretty interesting.

-first ever professional foot massage (that I can really remember; first Chinese one anyway)
-first time ordering my own professionally printed business cards
-first time playing a video game that has tag mode
-first translation of a death certificate
-first whatever the hell that Paradise Lost thing is
-first automatic monthly charitable donations
-first donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy
-first physical therapy for TMJ (the jury's still out)
-first contract with [name of client redacted]
-first paid yoga classes, which is also my first hot yoga experience
-first fitness membership with Persephone
-first time playing laser tag
-first disc QC @ FUNimation (partial)
-first director's invitation to the booth to listen to a dub of my show just for fun
-first time seeing my name in print as the translator of a novel
-first Groupon purchase
-first Barnes & Noble membership card
-first coconut steamer at Starbucks
-first time seeing any Glee
-first visit to Texas by my sister
-first time playing games at Lumosity
-first experimentation with self-acupressure
-first time eating at Rafain
-first time eating at Mooyah

I'm sure we all do new things all the time (or at least, I hope we do), but I often don't sit back and think "Hey, I am doing a new thing now!" I did with the foot massage, because that was a deliberate "reward myself with a new experience" type of thing. But a lot of these, like the business cards--I've tried making them myself before and it's a waste of time and money--and the new drink I tried at Starbucks? Totally not things I thought about. It's actually pretty cool to look at this and think in a deliberate way about how I really am a person who experiments and grows, even in little ways, and how most of us are growing all the time in little ways, and how we make our lives richer and more interesting.

Here are some more firsts I hope to have under my belt before the end of 2011:

-first stay in a bed & breakfast as an adult paying my own way
-first time attending a wedding in a state park
-first time memorizing the names of all the relatives at a family reunion before I go
-first facial
-first time riding Star Tours
-first pedicure
-first time eating the omakase meal at Ino's (a Japanese restaurant in Richardson, TX)
-first time staying at my brother and sister-in-law's house

I'll have to try noticing more of these more frequently. It's fun! And maybe recording new things will spur me to try even more new things!

Sarah is a Japanese-English translator, musician, compulsive reader and an active member of the My Life List community of achievers. Check out her public profile here to see if you share any major life experiences!