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.

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