Last week, in honor of my 40th birthday, I began construction on a new list. A big one. I planned to name forty accomplishments in my life and then to identify forty more I still plan to achieve. On Saturday morning, I opened a file, fully intending to use the quiet of the morning before anyone has awoken to complete my task: write something meaningful regarding the lists and post my blog entry for the week. Easy peasy.
Except I only got to 16. Hmm. Really?
A bit dejected and not wanting to spoil the birthday buzz I'd worked up, I closed the file rapidly. A few days later, I tried again, adding only five more items to the list.
I spent a couple of more days kind of beating myself up over it. How could I not have more to write down? Had I not done anything worthwhile or is my memory so bad that I just can't remember it? Why bother with a list of 40 more things I want to do when I haven't managed much in the first place? And what the heck am I going to write about in the blog now?
After stewing a bit on that, I came to a pretty important conclusion. Screw the list. Perhaps, I've overstated that. I do still have a desk full of lists, after all. It's just that maybe this particular list is less important than I thought.
I can't really live my life by whether or not an accomplishment is list-worthy. In part, I realized that the list was so hard because I spent too much time analyzing what would sound like an accomplishment to other people. I don't believe for a second that I haven't done many more than forty good things. It doesn't make all those unremembered achievements less valuable because they didn't make it onto this oh-so-irrelevant blog posting.
Just like the novels I write are worthwhile even if they're never published.
I found this article which argued that a bucket list keeps you on track—helps you see the big picture. Sure. I agree. But I think I liked the sentiment in the picture more.
Time to stop making lists and fill the damn bucket.