Deb Sofield


What’s On Your Life List?

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Recently, I heard a speaker ask about a Life List vs. a Bucket List.

It was an interesting thought, because I know that for many of us we have this imaginary (or actually written down) Bucket List of places we’d like to go, things we’d like to see and experiences we’d like to have; yet, as we hope and pray and wish away the days and months and years, saving for our Bucket List, I’m curious if you have thought about your Life List. And tell me, how are you coming along with checking off that list for becoming the person you want to be?

When you type in Life List vs. Bucket List online, no doubt, you’ll be inundated with Bucket List lists of things you should do and places you should visit and food you should try before you pass from this life to the next, and yet, when you type in Life List, there are not many options for you to choose from, with the exception of The Buried Life guys (I’ve posted their site below). I also came across the option of a bird list commonly called, Lifer list (noun,) A bird species when it is first seen and positively identified by an individual birder and the ever-popular End of Life List…not quite what I had in mind for this post, because I want you to see your life in real time, becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be.

The idea from a few writers I found on this topic is that the Life List is a list of personal, thought-out, achievable goals you’d like to accomplish before you die, with the key being that we should awaken our body, soul, mind and spirit to the personal goals (not just places you’d like to visit should you ever win the lottery) that you feel you personally need to accomplish before your time here on earth is done.

The overall theme or driver to writing out your Life List is to help you see how to live in accordance with your stated dreams, values and integrity.

While I was listening to the speaker about a Life List vs. a Bucket List, I had to stop and think if I had indeed written my own Life List. Like many of you, I have plenty of lists around the office that keep me on track to accomplish certain things in my life by a certain time, like turning 50 or 60 or before I pass away, but an all-encompassing list of who I want to be, what I want to be known for and what I am planning to leave as a legacy vs. what others want for me, that list–my list–is still a work in progress.

Many of the items on my Bucket List have come true due to my travels as a conference speaker and trainer in amazing places around the world. Yes, I am fully aware that I am one of the lucky ones in that respect, but to stop and seriously think about my Life List? Well, that is a different matter altogether, since that is a more raw and personal conversation to be had with myself. I encourage you to find the time to think through your life and what trail of personal successes that you can share, show or sew for others to follow.

One thing to mention about looking online about a Life List is that many of the listings are for an End of Life List, and while I am sure those list are interesting to read, those are not what I was on planning for my current list.

I believe a Life List should consist of the personal accomplishments or goals that one has set and completed (whether anyone else knows or not).

I believe another item on that Life List is living an authentic life, meaning being true to what you believe.

And I’ll add that I personally think a Life List needs to have at least one idea that might just be barely out of reach so that we’ll keep climbing, fighting, working to reach it so we can accomplish that which was, in many cases, out of reach.

I love to hear the stories of personal achievements of people who, for one reason or another, no one gave a chance to, and yet today they stand on the pinnacle of success because they gave their all and can now claim the prize.

Pretty soon we’ll be watching the Olympics, and there is not enough paper for me to tell the stories of those who failed time after time and then won, and in a few weeks they will run into the arena bearing the colors of their country for all to see. Here is my favorite video of the dedication it takes to be an Olympian. Just for a moment, can you remember the day you thought you had a chance to compete in the wider arena because you worked hard and had a winning season? In hindsight, it doesn’t matter if you were really good enough to make a national team, but because of your dedication, you can add a check mark to the box of your Life List because you competed and succeeded at something you chose to do. That’s the Life List item you tell your friends about because, in the moment, it was your personal accomplishment of a goal that you set and completed.

If sports are not your bailiwick, it might be the time you stood up for something you believed in against all odds, living your life in an authentic way that was true to your core being–who you want to be, who you’ve become–to the joy of your heart and soul, mind and spirit. I don’t know what battles you have fought, but I know from the emails that I receive that many who are readers have stepped out of their comfort zone to pursue their dreams. Their lives have changed before their eyes, and the joy they have experienced is second to none, continuing down life’s path that gives them delight and pleasure as they seek new adventures and as they try their hand at new opportunities.

I also know that some of you are standing by watching your friends go for their dreams, and you are not living your best life ever, because you have put yourself on hold for some reason. You have worked hard to convince yourself that life isn’t any better doing the things you’ve dreamed of, because either you’re afraid or you haven’t committed fully to stepping outside your comfort zone and living the dream you have thought long and hard about…and yet…you’re still standing by watching the world pass you.

Watching others do the things you’ve dreamed about is not living your dream, it is not living an authentic life–being true to what you believed you could be, you could do and perhaps should. It is living in repetitiveness without a plan, without a map and without a destination. That void of sameness will dry up the soul of one who longs to dream, explore and discover. And the hardest thing is to watch what happens when your age catches up with your body and you are no longer able to accomplish the dream because time ran out and beat you while you…were…waiting.

Don’t be that person. Time is a precious resource. Use your days wisely.

Finally, I personally believe a Life List needs to have at least one idea that might just be barely out of reach so you will keep going, keep searching and keep moving in the direction of your dreams to know that one day you will collect the dream as you reach for the next.

Nothing kills a dream like procrastination or fear or sameness. To be successful in most any enterprise you must find the way forward. Standing still will get you nowhere, and yet you and I know so many good people who are waiting and waiting and waiting and for who knows what, and years later they’re still waiting and now they are bellyaching that life passed them by. Funny how they conveniently forgot that they refused to take a chance.

Do you win every time? Unfortunately, no, but as the saying goes, sometimes you lose and sometimes you learn. Regardless, whatever you do, keep reaching for your dream, your goal and your future…as you envisioned it.

Standing still and complaining makes no sense to me or anyone else. And I don’t think my frustration is because of my impatience, I think it is just in my make-up that I will not waste my time waiting for something that with a little effort can be won or done. Make a decision. Commit to doing the job or get it off your plate so you can find something else to work towards.

Think about it, if something is just out of reach, don’t you stand on your tiptoes to grab it? Don’t you find a long handled wooden spoon to maneuver the jar to the edge so you can grasp it? Don’t you rummage around the garage to find the stepladder to reach the object of your desire? YES, of course, you do! Most of us do, so why are you letting your dreams stay out of reach? Stop being so lazy, and do something to grab, grasp or reach out to grip your dreams and go! Then you can check another box off your Life List because you made another dream come true.

What’s on your Life List?

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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