Bucket List vs. Life List

Ever since the movie, The Bucket List, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, I've struggled to make a list of what I want to do with whatever time I have remaining on this earth. Most people I've asked seem to include places they want to go or things they want to do, but I'd rather just live each day to the fullest (See “Why Today is so Important.”).

Maybe I'm not adventurous enough, but if I found out I only had six more months to live, I don't think I'd feel the least deprived by anything I've left undone or unseen. I feel so grateful already for those things I have done and I would only want to spend the remaining time with loved ones, tying loose ends, and encouraging them as much as possible.

Not that I'm in any hurry to be faced with this, mind you.

Since the idea of making a bucket list hasn't resonated so much with me, I was intrigued to listen to an interview recently from a Success Magazine CD (one of my favorite subscriptions) with speaker and leadership expert John Maxwell in which he talked about the importance of creating a “Life List”—a list of those things you want to do every day of your life. It is “motivated by dreaming about the sort of person you aspire to be rather than the kinds of things you want to do.”

Here are the criteria he gives for a properly constructed life list:

  1. Your life-list should consist of just a few things.
  2. Your life-list should consist of only the most important things.
  3. Your life-list should reflect your values.
  4. Your life-list should be your life-list. In other words, it should not be based on considerations of the kind of person others expect you to be, but instead on the person you dream of becoming.

For some reason, this exercise appealed to me, and I enjoyed scribbling ideas and condensing them down to meet the criteria. I thought the only way I'd remember it would be to start with something I already knew by heart: Faith, Hope, and Love (I Corinthians 13:13). Here's what I came up with:

Elizabeth's Life List

  • Faith: Talk to God and ask for guidance.
  • Hope: Dream big and take action.
  • Love: Show Love and respect to all, including myself.
  • Gratitude: Count my blessings, because gratitude is essential to happiness.

As writer Annie Dillard said in The Writing Life, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” So if a life list can help us focus on the best way to spend our days, what a life we can have!

Have you written your life list?

Go on; it's fun.

Once it's done and you've pretty much memorized it, you'll be amazed how it can inform your choices and priorities for the rest of your life.

And it's certainly not cast in stone. If you want to edit or revise it in a day or week or year, who's to stop you? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below, and I'd be honored to have you share your life list when you've written it.



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