Ever since reading Mimi's post I've been mulling over in my mind what my own list of "things to do before I die" might look like.
If you had asked me in my 30's or early 40's I would have had quite a lengthy list. It used to be terribly important to me that I accomplish certain milestones.
But as I approach my half century mark, I find I'm less concerned these days with acquiring or accomplishing or any of that old stuff.
I've written in earlier posts about Stephen Shapiro's work on Goal Free Living. When I first started reading his work I was outraged - it sounded like utter blasphemy to me to give away all my carefully crafted goals. I thought that without goals I'd be reduced to a slug, never accomplishing anything. His views seemed like an utter cop out.
But now that I've read more and thought more, I think I am starting to get it.
It is helpful for me to have a general direction to move in, and to clarify what my values are. But when I lock myself into trying to accomplish very particular goals, then I close myself off from being able to recognize blessings and successes that come in other forms.
So instead of saying I will lose 20 lbs by the end of the year, (who are we kidding, anyway) I now say "I will strive to be more healthy". If I want to lose 20 lbs (without a major amputation) but for one reason or another (such as doughnuts, fried foods or general sloth) I only lose 15 lbs, then I've "Failed" the specific goal. But if what I really want is to be more healthy - every step closer I get becomes a success.
If I say "I want to go to Italy for my 50th birthday" and then at the last minute I chose to go to India or Nepal instead, I would have forfeited my original dream. However, if I say "I want to experience adventures and explore the world" no matter WHERE I go - (well, maybe not Gila Bend) I am in line with my values and appreciating the opportunity.
So this takes me back to my personal mission statment I crafted earlier:
I live with passion, faith and integrity.
I contribute to my family, community and the world.
I honor my own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
I continually strive for life long learning and personal growth.
As I let go of particular MUST DO lists, I feel lighter, more content. I remain open to all manner of great experiences and opportunities. But I won't be checking any of them off any predetermined list. I'll just wait and let the world surprise me. Is that a cop out? Maybe. But for now, it seems to fit.