Guide to a Great Life List
Ten Rules for Creating and Conquering Your Life List
- Make your list public. Making your goals public solidifies your commitment to them, holds you accountable, and helps you connect with others who share your interests. You'll discover connections to social and professional networks that you didn't know you had and gets lots of encouragement from the people who care most about you. So make sure to tell friends, family members, and coworkers about your list and post it on the Internet at 43Things.com.
- Include serious and fun goals. Vary the scope of your goals and include some wild just-for-fun dreams. Also, don't be afraid to complete less daunting goals first. Building momentum from these early successes helps you find the courage to tackle larger tasks.
- Include undefined goals. Avoid overlooking a developing passion or interest by fearlessly adding goals even if you can't totally articulate them. If you wake up one morning with the desire to create art, add it to the list. Let the idea simmer in your mind until something more specific emerges.
- Document progress. While reviewing the list, record your progress and determine the next steps. Documenting progress allows you to identify behavior patterns or other obstacles keeping you from accomplishing goals-it can also show you how far you've come.
- Make goals manageable but rewarding. Divide big goals into smaller tasks, but not so small that they become tedious. Taking incremental steps keeps you from getting overwhelmed by a monumental goal. For example, instead of vowing to "get organized" try listing "declutter the garage."
- Define the finish line. You'll find it easier to complete certain tasks and track progress if you determine the duration, results, or final outcome you desire from achieving a specific goal. Revise vague goals such as "give back to my community" by specifying what kind of work you want to do. You may not be able to do this right away-as we said, undefined goals are good, too.
- Prioritize goals. Arrange your goals to reflect what you want to begin working on right away. You may want to run a marathon and get a promotion at work, but rather than trying to find the time and energy to run thirty miles a week and put in long hours at the office, focus on the goal that's more important to you.
- Maintain a manageable list. Somewhere between twenty and forty-three is a sweet spot for many people. Limiting your life list to forty-three goals forces you to make some choices. Fewer than twenty goals doesn't offer enough variety to keep you moving forward.
- Review your list weekly. It sharpens your focus, keeps up your momentum, and reminds you of what's important. As you review the list, ask yourself, "What have I done to achieve a particular goal this week?" If the answer is "nothing," is this goal important enough to keep on your list?
- Revise and remove goals. A life list should be constantly evolving-it should reflect what's important to you right now, not what mattered in the past. Remember, there's no penalty for changing your mind or tweaking a goal to better reflect your desired outcome or new circumstances. A short-lived passion for making pottery can be reborn as "find a creative outlet," or ambitions to get straight A's in chemistry can be tossed because sometimes a passing grade is enough of a victory.