Are you a list person?

Do you make lists? Do you hate lists? Do you realize there are different kinds of lists?

First there are the lists that give you chores to do. Often other people make these lists for you: wash windows, clean eavestroughs, fix the faucet, clean the clutter off the counter, catch up the mending, etc. Lists like these are endless and rarely are the tasks on them fun or exciting. Someone has to maintain this list or the jobs never get done – unless you’re one of those rare cases where jobs get done as soon as they’re discovered in need of doing.

But there is another sort of list: the list that records your dreams, the one that lets you think about all the things you’d like to do given the opportunity. This is the philosophy behind communities like 43 places and 43 things.

I went to a workshop in January where one of the keys to reaching a goal was shared this way: make a list of your goals, whether it’s living on the coast, seeing the mountain from your deck every morning, working at home, or going to Greece when you graduate. Whatever goals you have, record them somewhere. Part two is sharing the information with other people. Here’s how these steps will help you achieve your goal:

  1. When other people know what you have planned they can support you while holding you accountable. When they start asking you how the plans for Greece are going you can tell them great. They’re excited for you and it will help you stay motivated.
  2. When these other people know you’re planning a trip to Greece they’ll start cutting out articles and sending you links about things to do, places to stay, and cheap flights to Greece. This cuts down on the amount of work you’ll have to do to plan and will also keep you motivated.
  3. The third way that recording your goals will help is that when you are faced with making a decision (career, life, relationship) you will be able to consult your goals and see which choice brings you closer to your goal. If you know your ideal home is someplace warm it will help you say no to positions in the Arctic. It’s not turning down an opportunity, it’s helping you stay focused on your goals. When you are looking for positions or projects you’ll have a clue where to start looking. Without the goals you’ll flit from one place to another always wondering if you’re doing the right thing, making the right choice – or if you’re happy yet.

    Things aren’t always perfect, and ideas, philosophies, and situations all change. When I took the workshop I was frustrated because the group was made up of 1st and 3rd year university students, save me (mom, student, etc). I don’t have the freedom to picture myself living on the side of a mountain or even near a coast or even somewhere warm. I have a custody order that says the closest to a mountain I’m going to get while my kids are young is the landfill 20 minutes away. Sometimes when we’re setting our goals we have to take all kinds of other things into consideration – but stil, if you can, make some goals. Lists of goals are okay – nobody is going to nag you about them – and even if they did, these are things you want to do – let people help you do them.

    Today’s list is 2 pages long and I made it on paper, in a notebook so that if I don’t want to look at it I can shut the cover. I’m a little anxious that the list might be overwhelming but so far it feels good. It covers a lot of the things I’d like to do this summer around the garden and yard and a pile of art that has been waiting for me for eons. It has the beginnings of me thinking about grad school, mostly what area I might like to research. There’s nothing there about where I want to live or what I want to be…nothing major about “what I want out of life” or “what happiness means to me” or any of the biggies. I’m starting small and taking this a little step at a time.


  1. vic, 20. April 2006, 23:23

    that’s pretty cool! Where was this workshop?

  2. Administrator, 21. April 2006, 9:37

    It was at a conference hosted by the Millennium Foundation last January in Ottawa. The theme for the weekend was “Sustainability.” This particular workshop was facilitated by Nora Spinks from Work Life Harmony and focused on balancing your life between work/school/volunteering committments and everythign else we want in life. Things like setting goals, saying no to too many requests to volunteer, saving money, that sort of thing and how to use strategies to get you where you want to go instead of just landing there (or not).

    It’s taken me this long to really find a way to incorporate her ideas into my life – not because they aren’t good ideas but because not everyone fits her cookie cutter model of how people make decisions. But hey, if it’s any use to you, I’m glad.


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