To Do or Not to Do?

grey felt journal to do list on a white desk
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The sense of time passing rapidly haunts me sometimes.  I have no fear of death, but I do worry that I am not living my life as fully as I might be and that there will not be enough days to accomplish all that I want to do.  And do I ever have things that I want to accomplish.

I’ve been keeping a bucket list longer than the term itself has existed, starting it in high school as a way of keeping track of things that I wanted to experience.  After mumble-something years of additions, the list is ridiculously long, with a word count that rivals War and Peace. Alright, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but at last check, there were over nine hundred items on the list. To keep it organized, my list has sub-lists and some of those sub-lists have their own sub-lists.

On a scale of 1 to 10, the likelihood of accomplishing everything on my list hoovers somewhere around negative three.  I’ve realized it’s time to apply the same set of questions that I usually use for other goal setting to this super-sized bucket list.  I turn to the list of questions below whenever I am struggling with too many options and need to decide where to direct my energy .

What goals are actually achievable? I generally don’t set goals that are impossible, but circumstances change over time, making some goals unobtainable.  A good example from my bucket list – attend a Space Shuttle launch.  Unless NASA resurrects the shuttle program, this one isn’t going to happen.

What am I reasonably capable of accomplishing based on my physical and mental health?  This is something that may change over time, but there are one or two things on my bucket list that no longer met this criteria. It’s unlikely that I will ever be physically able to run a marathon or hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety.  The likely outcome of attempting either of these things would be serious and permanent injury. Neither of these goals are that important to me.

What am I capable of doing based on my financial and material resources? Again, this is something that may change over time.  Still, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever get to drive a Bugatti Veyron. It’s a lovely dream, but given that these cars have seven-digit price tags, I’ll be lucky if I even lay eyes on one in person.

What goals still resonant and have meaning to me?  On my list is ‘celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary’.  Sigh. While this one meets the other criteria (barely), getting married is no longer something I aspire to do.  Staying married to someone for fifty years really doesn’t inspire the same emotions it did when my teenage self added this to the list.

What goals am I setting for myself that aren’t solely an attempt to appease  others?  There are times when I find myself doing something simply because it is what is expected of me or to please someone else.  Among my long bucket list of writing goals is to write a science fiction novel.  Looking back, I’ve realized that this was never a goal for myself, but one set with my father in mind. He loved the genre and made several failed attempts at writing science fiction during his lifetime. While I love reading the genre, I have very little desire to write a sci-fi novel.

Finally, what goals can I work on now that are going to make the most positive and lasting impact?  Even after paring my bucket list significantly, there is still far more there than I can hope to accomplish. I’m working on choosing one goal from each of my sub-lists that takes priority.  These must be things that I can begin now, complete in a reasonable time span, and will have the most positive impact if completed. As I finish the chosen goal from each area, I’ll pick another using the same criteria.

To do or not to do? That is the real question…








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