“If you want to know what’s really important to you, make a list.”
The following is an article by Wendy Swallow Williams I clipped out of a Readers Digest in the late 1990′s.
This article changed the quality of my life.
This morning as I was catching up on what my fellow bloggers were posting, this long term life goal jumped off the screen:
“lots and lots of land for gardens, orchards, chickens and room to breathe…”
I told this young blogger , she had just described my life to a T.
I can trace the course of my life the past 15 years directly back to this short article. Since starting the habit of having a “list” there are literally dozens of things I’ve checked off.
To say it has enriched my life immeasurably is an understatement. DM
A few weeks ago, I followed a friend into an art-supply store. I found him picking out tubes of watercolor paint, which surprised me because he’s not an artist.
“I signed up for a watercolor class, and it starts next week, He said sheepishly. “I don’t really have time for it, but it was on my list of 50 things to do before I die, so I went for it.”
This sounded interesting,”What else is on the list?” I asked.
“All kinds of things, ” he said. “Every few months I look at the list and decide what to focus on next. Before I had a list, I moaned a lot about what I was missing in my life. Now I just do stuff.”
“Can I see your list sometime?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It reveals a lot about me. Write your own list, and you’ll see what I mean.”
So that night I did just that, and he was right. The list revealed a whole lot about what was important to me. It also revealed how hopelessly behind I am at getting to the things I really want.
Just writing the list helped me sort through priorities. I filled up the first 20 blanks quickly, but then began to think carefully. Eventually I added items I’ve thought about for years, dreams I’ve carried with me since I was young, and things that resonated when I first heard about them. When I reviewed the list later, some entries surprised me.
First, I want to travel much more particularly now that my children are older and can go with me to see the world. There are ten trips I would like to make with the boys- from biking through Denmark to camping in the Canadian Rockies.
I was also surprised to find some things on the list that need to be done soon. If I’m going to learn to Rollerblade, for instance, I’d better start before turning 50.
Some items, though I can put off until I’m older. I would love to grow flowers, to really garden, but while I”m raising kids and working I don’t have time for roses.
I would love to do volunteer work in a hospital nursery someday, rocking crying infants and giving them their first baths. I would like to work with teen-agers, leading youth groups or helping at the local high school. If I’m going to do these though, I may need to reconsider running the bake sale for the school fair each year.
A few of the items are intimidating because they mean a serious commitment of some sort. I would like to publish a novel before I die, and I would like to get a Ph.D, in English literature. I also would like to learn to draw and play the piano with a string quartet. If I’m going to accomplish these things, I need to start writing every day and polish my piano skills.
I may not make it through the list. Some things may just be out of reach, such as New Zealand, and other ultimately may not work with the rest of my life, such as owning a horse. Yet I see that I already have built the framework for many of these pipe dreams, and that if I make them goals, there is no reason I can’t find a way to taste at least part of that reality.
Like my friend, I now have an alternative do complaining. When I’m bored with my life, I take out my list. Maybe I’ll send off for travel brochures or take my pencils out in the back yard and doodle around for an hour, trying to sketch trees that look like trees.
I have no idea how the boys and I will get to Africa, but if it’s important enough, I’m sure we’ll find a way. One of them might grow up to be a zoologist, or I might become a nature writer and get sent on assignment or maybe we’ll just save a few dollars every week till we have enough.
I had a cousin who accomplished an amazing string of interesting things. She once told me the key was preparing so that life could work in mysterious ways. “If you want your ship to come in, you must build a dock,” she said.
Thanks to my list, I’m working on some big docks.
Wendy Swallow Williams
I (DM) will close with a few pictorial highlights off my list….
hosting concerts in our home and barn. When Katie Sawicki came to visit we also sponsored a songwriting workshop.
Yep, we went white water rafting in 2010 (that’s my wife in the boat on the right clocking the guy in the other boat with her oar. ) She said it was an accident.
Had a pet pig I named Winston. To tell you about that pig would take a whole blog post in itself.
Our orchard started out as a wish/ and idea on my “list”
So tell me, do you have a working list of sorts?
Care to share any items you have yet to check off but plan to sometime soon?
Someone has said the older we get, the less action oriented our goals become…. What do you think?
What type of relationship goals could be on a list?