Two years ago, as we were transitioning from 2011 to 2012, I decided to actually go for those things that I wanted. Here was my mantra. I had decided reaffirm my decision to step outside of conventional expectations and live. Sometimes this meant doing something that is uncomfortable, that doesn’t make sense to others, or is on your Life List. It doesn’t matter, as long as it makes sense to you. This year, I have decided that my mantra for 2014 is to MAKE IT EPIC.
Something that is epic is worthy of remembering and is filled with exciting events and adventures. Back in 2004, I started a list of all of the things I wanted to do in my life–my life list. I began by putting in a leather bound diary, that quickly became obsolete. Eventually, I migrated that list of 60 or so items to Evernote to manage them there-from anywhere and on any device. This list contains items as grandiose as hiking Kilimanjaro, as mundane as learning how to fold a fitted sheet and as personal as learning what romantic love feels like. It became the foundation of what I wanted to get out of life and I therefore began structuring my life to have these experiences. The best part is the list is never finished and I get to decide which items I want to accomplish. If I try something and don’t like it, that is ok. I move on to the next thing. Sometimes these experiences open the door to new things–which is very exciting! I just add them to the list. This is why I don’t like calling it a bucket list-referring to all of the things you want to do before you kick the bucket.
This is not a plan in the traditional sense, so I don’t advocate creating deadlines for completion. Sometimes you have to let God, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, the Universe work out these opportunities for you. So let it flow. Allow serendipity to work on your behalf. Keep an eye out for those chances that would have been overlooked had you not written them down.
The Life List is a living document that helps you to keep to your own authentic path. It empowers, centers and guides you – particularly when it comes to making pivotal decisions. Once I constructed mine, I realized that I wasn’t in a position to have several of the experiences on my list. So I had to make some changes. Big changes that required a lot of thought and weren’t always easy or fun. I had to let somethings go and embrace what was coming to me in my life. It was scary, but it was necessary. Necessary to create a life that is uniquely mine and not like my work colleagues or my classmates from college or business school. On the way, you never know who you might meet, where you might go or what you might see. You are guaranteed to be surprised. Your life will be epic.
Here are some steps for you to create your own Life List for 2014 and beyond:
Decide what you want out of life.
Construct your Life List. Start by brainstorming 25 things you want to do, experience, accomplish or learn. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just start writing. Check out mine from 2004.
Think about what is currently going on in your life.
Is your life today working for or against the desires you outlined above? For a period of time, I had to cut out Facebook. It was a downer and affected my mood. For other goals, I decided I needed to release the hold that wanting to start a family had over me. I had not yet gotten comfortable with the idea of single motherhood and I was getting older. I acknowledged the fact that I had foregone several opportunities because of the fear that I would not marry in time to have children.
Neutralize what is not working for you.
Recognizing that my biological clock was a barrier for me, I decided to freeze my eggs to extend my fertility. Once I had done that, I felt like I had been freed of this self-imposed constraint. I felt I could pursue opportunities around the world and even study a foreign language abroad (one of my goals), knowing that I had “acquired” a few additional years. I met the man I was to marry while I was going though the preservation process. After, I did global health work in Cote d’Ivoire and studied French in Paris for a few months in the summer. I also spent a few days in Iceland catching up with a classmate, learning about Viking history and experiencing the Blue Lagoon (I really do enjoy spas). To my surprise, my now husband proposed to me while I was studying abroad and now we are expecting our first child. None of this would have been possible had I not broken free of the biological clock narrative that was in my head.
Do something. Anything.
Knock off one of the smaller items on the list. It could be something as simple as taking a class, calling a special friend or reading a specific book. One of my earliest goals was to become a part of a church community. This prompted me to start searching, to join and to become involved in one of my neighborhood churches.
Keep the list alive.
Revisit your Life List periodically. Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox all work for this. I like to record the dates of when I had the experience with a brief note. It really does motivate you to explore some of the other items on your list.
By the time December 31, 2014 comes around, if you employ a strategy similar to this one (and Living RahRah! can help!), you to will be sure to have had an epic 2014!