Image thanks to yvette
I’m a list maker. My life revolves around the humble list. I could measure out my life to you in lists if I had saved all the dog-eared notebooks and scrappy post-it notes of times gone by. It recently occurred to me, however, that I don’t really make the most of my list-making tendencies; although my lists have helped me to achieve small daily tasks, I’ve never taken it any further. But if the list works so well in my daily life, couldn’t it work just as well to remind and encourage me to achieve my bigger, long-term aims? By Jove, I think it could.
1. Write a To-Learn List. We’ve all wondered what it would be like to speak a different language, play an instrument, build websites, master public speaking etc., but with the distraction of our academic study, our jobs and our everyday lives, these desires can be vague and unclear and therefore often unattainable. Why not try compiling a list of all the things you’d like to learn, either a list for life, or just in the next five years.
2. Write a To-Go-To List. Travel isn’t on all of our agendas, but it’s pretty high on most. Why not compile a list of the next five places you would love to travel, perhaps adding how long you would like to go for, who you would like to go with, and what you’ll do there. This doesn’t have to be reserved for epic overseas adventures; weekends away or daytrips to places nearer by are perhaps even more important to list as they are the excursions we often take for granted and overlook.
3. Write a To-Read List. Many of us wish we could read more, and books can be such a fantastic way to learn, gain experience, and make decisions about the lives we want to lead. I’m always finding new books I want to read and listing them all in one place helps to synthesize an otherwise unrealisable book-appetite! Make sure you write down both the title and author to make the book easier to get hold of when you do get around to it. It might even be worth asking your local library if they can get hold of some of the titles for you if you’re unsure whether they are worth the investment.
4. Write a To-Acquire List. This doesn’t have to be wholly materialistic; it can be items that will really make a wider impact on your life, like a great place to live, a cute allotment, a high-spec camera, or even a soul mate! If you spend a little time thinking about it, what initially seems a rather frivolous list could quickly become a catalyst for understanding and envisaging where you want your life, love-life, and career to go.
5. Write a To-Achieve List. This one is for those big things you’ve always known you wanted to do, and any new smaller challenges you might be considering. This might include getting your degree or masters, writing a novel, drinking wheatgrass for breakfast, running a marathon, realising your dream job, or even overhauling your style.
And a bonus…
6. Write a To-Do Hot List. Select one item from each of the five lists above, making it the one that feels the most exciting, and compile an ultimate wishlist of wonders you’re itching to experience, acquire and achieve. You might be surprised how quickly some of these things will come to fruition now that you’ve identified and committed yourself to them.
Of course, writing a list doesn’t guarantee you’ll achieve the individual aims – you still have to put in the hard work necessary to achieve them. However, it’s amazing just how powerful it can be simply telling yourself that you want to do these things; there is true magic in marking a page with your desires. Trust me, your subconscious, and the universe, will take note.
Do you live by lists? Is writing down your larger aims something you’ve ever considered or tried? Give it a go and let me know how you get on.
This article was originally posted in 2010 and is part of Archive August - there is still loads of time to win so join in!