Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Things to do before I die....

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.


Stephen Shapiro said...

Beautifully said.

Marie said...

I was in an RS presidency with a great girl who was very go-go-go (as many RS presidents are, bless their overworked hearts). She had a spiral notebook with a list of all the things she was determined to do before she died. On one hand I thought it was cool that she had articulated to herself some things that would make her life rich. It was better than my more wandering existence, anyway. On the other hand, I worried some of the things you worried -- that if life handed her a bad hand all of a sudden and she simply wasn't able to fulfill some or many of them, she would feel like a failure and beat herself up.

That was my same problem with that "The Secret" business that's been sweeping the land -- yes, motivation and high hopes are important, but when you really believe that the universe has to give you anything if you just want it enough (The Secret) or work hard enough for it (concrete goal setters like my friend), then there can be some serious anger at the universe and/or self-loathing.

That's my way of saying that I like your system. It's healthy.

Mimi said...

Yay! I also agree with your words, and like your mission statement.

Pondering Pig said...

Hey, what's so bad about Gila Bend?

Sorry, I couldn't resist. What I really wanted to tell you was my own personal ambition, which is this:

When I'm on my deathbed to have my kids all gathered around me and they're sorry to see me go.

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