Friday, July 27, 2018

Life List and Why to Have One

By Jillian Ross (as told to Joanne Rock), heroine of THE FORBIDDEN BROTHER

Long ago, I had heard of “life lists.” Some people called them bucket lists, but that’s simply another term for a list of things to accomplish/see/do in a lifetime. For me, that idea sounded pushy—another way to make me feel like I wasn’t achieving enough in an already packed-full existence.

But after a frightening health scare, I saw a “life list” in a brand-new light.

Maybe it’s because a scary diagnosis cuts through the noise of an average daily to-do list in a hurry. But suddenly, I didn’t feel the same pressure to tackle the spring cleaning or dazzle my boss with overtime. My priorities shifted, and I had a new clarity about how I wanted to spend my time. And it wasn’t working or cleaning.

Enter the life list. Or, in my case, my list of 100 Life Adventures—things I wanted to do, places I wanted to visit, experiences I wanted to have. When you are worried you don’t have much time left, you become more stingy in how you spend it. Now, I started making
travel plans to see the American West. That was a big thing I wanted to do along with watching a sunset on the Mediterranean. But my list is full of little things too. Buy an easel and paint whatever I want outdoors on a sunny day. Pick wildflowers and give bouquets to my neighbors just because. Window shop while wearing big Audrey Hepburn shades. Order the best wine off a menu.

My life list was fun to write because I spent time thinking about moments that would bring me joy.  Even anticipating the moments—visualizing them—brought a kind of joy. It made me realized that focusing on me was overdue. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. So why not live with joy, in search of happiness and new adventures, today?

Ready to try one? Here are my takeaways from writing my list:

Brainstorm long and hard. Don’t just take the first idea that comes to mind. Sure, you can write the first ten ideas quickly, but after that, stop and think about how you can refine them. And once you get past the first handful of ideas, dig deeper. This list isn’t something you write in a day. You come back to it again and again as you are inspired by the world and people around you. What life experiences do you want to have? What adventures have you seen other people undertake that make you wish you could do the same?

No limits. Don’t edit your ideas to fit your budget or lifestyle. Dream big! You can’t achieve your real aspirations if you aren’t honest with yourself about what you want.

Kick fear to the curb. It’s important not to let fear of failure hold you back. No one needs to know about your life list—there’s no judgement! Committing a dream to paper is the first step to making it happen, but you can’t let fear hold you back.

Be specific. Goals are stronger when they are measurable. So while it’s okay to add “make new friends” to your list, it’s even better to spell out ideas for the how and where. “Attend two book clubs at the library and hold meaningful conversations with at least three people” is a goal that gives the “make friends” idea more teeth! Help yourself with actionable steps to guide you toward the goal.

**Photographer and film location scout Jillian Ross tackles two of her goals on her list of Life Adventures when she visits Cheyenne, Wyoming and orders the best wine the local bar (The Thirsty Cow!) has to offer. That scene opens THE FORBIDDEN BROTHER, and sets up the meet between Jillian and local rancher Cody McNeill.

 So... What's the first thing you'd put on your life list? One random poster will receive a copy of Catherine Mann's The Twin Birthright


A.C. said...

Love the idea of a life list instead of a bucket list

girlfromwva said...

i have a "life list". so far it has 30 things on it, and i have completed a fair amount of it. one thing not done yet is to visit Las Vegas.

Angela Crockett said...

I was fortunate to spend 4 months with a good friend of my families mother as she went through the last stage of her cancer. To see how her family and she rallied and they went over and beyond to make sure she had each and every thing that she desired touched my heart. One of the things that I would like to experience is to attend a RWA or even just a simple book conference where I can meet a lot of my idols. Authors have made up such a important part of my life and if I can do one thing, it will be to meet some of them.

Dana Nussio said...

I want to visit France. Not only Paris, but also Marseille,Versailles and Avignon. I want to see the Arc de Triomphe and visit the Louvre, so I can see Venus de Milo for myself. After studying French for 8 years, I would love to see some of the places I studied. I never seem to be able to justify the cost, but I am making a Life List and putting France on it. :)

Vickie Gerlach said...

Oh... Life List.... I like it..... my biggest would be to travel to Ireland and Scotland.... that would be such a dream come true....
On a smaller scale of travel.... I’d like to make it to the next RWA in NY....
I could certainly think of a lot of little ones too.... like getting a German Shepherd Dog... :-)
This one would easily come true, except the hubby keeps saying no.... mean old man.... LOL

Pam Hamblin said...

I've seen the Monkees twice, Meat Loaf twice, Kid Rock once! So , yes, I want to see him again. I've met author Pamela Clare. I'd love to meet someone , anyone that's a Desire author that could be you! Karen Rock, Sheri Whitefeather, Jules Bennett, and that's just the beginning! My last trip was to Tampa, Florida so I would love to go back again! I've been there twice. I've been to Disney three times but would love to go again. Pam

dstoutholcomb said...

I don't do these lists for the same reason I don't make New Year's resolutions. For me, and I mean this only for me, I see it as a set up for failure it things aren't accomplished.

That doesn't mean I don't have dreams or wishes. I want to see U2 in concert. I tell my husband every year and he fails to buy me tickets.

I'd love to go back and see more of Europe.

But most of all, and this is a goal I'm actively pursuing, I want to be published again.


Mary Preston said...

Travel tops my list. Great Britain in particular. It is an achievable goal.

Eileen A-W said...

Visiting Spain is on my the top of my list. Also many of the national parks in the US.

Joanne Rock said...

Denise, I saw the lists in a sort of similar way for a long time. I stopped calling New Year's lists "resolutions" and started thinking of them as goals, which helped. I do think there's something about setting a wish down in writing that makes it more real... sort of bringing it into the world in a tangible way that tells your brain to work on it! I have very descriptive goals for myself that I may not reach, but I feel like they keep me climbing in a hopeful way.

Joanne Rock said...

I have a winner!! Cheers to Angela Crockett... I will message you privately, but all you need to do is email me at with a mailing address, and I'll put your prize in the mail for you asap! Thank you all for visiting with me this month!