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Should I be writing lists?

Imagine you’re standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. You’re close enough to see the completely open space spread out before you, but far enough that you can take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. 

Maybe it’s the beauty of nature in front of you, or maybe it’s because you’re taking a moment to reflect on your life — but suddenly you ask yourself, what do I really care about? What do I want to do with my life while I’m living it? 

For most people, the actual answer to this question (if you ask yourself) usually doesn’t reflect the standard “bucket list” we create when we brainstorm or “think big” about life. There’s nothing quite as pointless as making a habit of creating lists you never follow through on. It’s a pet peeve of mine, and I’ve made this mistake myself.  

Anyone can create an amazing bucket list and have the greatest intentions to check off each item one by one. But the list itself doesn’t mean anything will happen, it doesn’t even mean it’s what you actually want to focus your energy on. 

Wait a minute. I’m not by any means saying that all lists are bad, or that they won’t help you achieve your goals. A friend recently shared a list with me titled 100 things I learned in Australia. It was brilliant. Keeping a list of things you learned in a particular season of life is a great way to reflect on the moment you’re in and bring those life lessons with you. 

However, if all your energy is focused on creating a great list, or coming up with goals because they sound cool, then you’re probably not going to accomplish any of the items you wrote down. Ask yourself, what do I really want to focus my time and energy on? Then stop waiting to check off the boxes. Start doing whatever it is you know you’re called to do. 

Back to the question: Should I be writing lists? Maybe not. Not everyone needs to keep a catalog (it’s kind of overrated.) Take the focus off the documentation for a second and instead ask yourself how you should live today. After a moment to reflect and some soul searching, you’ll know whether you need a list. 

Think back to the Grand Canyon. Suddenly, the breeze hits your face and leaves behind a smile — you realize there’s more to life than anything you can accomplish on a bucket list. You have a purpose that goes beyond anything you can dialogue. What will you learn from the situations you’ve encountered and what will you share with others?

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