I have a confession: I don't want to run a marathon.
Running a marathon is a pretty common item on peoples' Someday Lists (a.k.a. Goal Lists, Bucket Lists, etc.). It was on mine, too. Until today, when I realized: I don't have the slightest desire to actually run a marathon.
It's not like I only just now lost the desire to run a marathon. I never really had that desire. So why was it on my Someday List?
This realization prompted me to take a closer look at other items on my Someday List. I'd made a common mistake: I filled my Someday List with items generally accepted as excellent goals, things that lots of people include on their lists, experiences that are on the Someday List not because I long for the experience, but because other people deem it a worthwhile goal or put it on their own lists, and I figured I should experience it.
And that's when I realized: my Someday List was really a Should List.
It's no wonder so many items on my Someday List sit stagnant, me never making any strides closer to their accomplishment. I didn't really want them. I didn't have any spark of passion behind them. They were there because I thought they should be, or because I thought other people would applaud my accomplishment if I did them. I allowed other people–or, more precisely, my impression of other people's expectations and preferences–to craft my Someday List.
What a waste of a Someday List!
So I'm revising that list. Any item that doesn't fully and completely resonate with me doesn't deserve a spot on the Someday List. Any item that I hesitate in scratching off solely because I think other people would approve of me if I did it? Gone. Any item whose foundation is Should rather than Passionate Need To Do? Outta here.
Running a marathon is off the list (as is climbing a mountain and transitioning to a 100% raw diet, among others). Maybe through the twists and turns of life's journey I'll still wind up doing those things–I'm not closing myself to possibilities, but they don't currently warrant one of the spots on my Someday List.
Your Business's Someday List
As I reflected on my personal Someday List, I realized many of us make the exact same error when we create our business Someday List. We include items like “Publish a book” or “Be the keynote speaker at a big conference” or “Get over 60,000 readers a month on the blog” or “Make six figures a year” because those are things we're told we should want. (And if you really do want those things, then by all means, include them on your Biz Someday List & start making a plan to make them happen.)
But if what you have no desire to actually publish a book, and having 500 active and dedicated readers to your blog would make you happy and fulfill your business needs, and making six figures is neither necessary nor something you passionately care about… then it's time to revise your list. Give the other items the boot and make room for the goals that spark your flame.
Here's what is easy to forget: It's our Someday List, and it's our business. Our hopes for our business and for our life can be our own. They don't have to match someone else's. They don't have to be approved by anyone else. They don't have to follow anyone else's example. We can be proud of others for accomplishing goals we don't have the slightest desire to tackle. We can celebrate others who chase dreams we don't want to pursue.
But when it comes to our Someday Lists, we can put the full fire of our own passion and abilities toward a list of goals and hopes that comport with no one's definition of success or impressiveness but our own.
It's worth noting that getting clear on your resonant goals, hopes and aspirations makes it that much easier for you to find and click with your right people. And if you've been finding it hard to figure out who your right people are, you might be surprised at how much that has to do with what's lingering on your list of goals that doesn't actually resonate with you. If you're aiming at a target that doesn't really reflect what you want, it's no surprise that you're probably surrounding yourself with people that don't quite reflect your right community.
What's on your Someday List? And just as importantly, what's off your list?
I don't want to run a marathon, but I do want to speak conversationally fluent German.
I don't get excited over climbing a mountain, but I do get excited over skydiving.
I don't want to be fully booked as a Virtual Assistant, but I do want to get fully booked with clients who want me to help them get clarity around their Big Visions and engage with their Right People (a change I recently made to my Business Goal List!).
What about you: What's on your list because you think it should be there? If you scratch the Should off your list, what experience or goal could you make room for that you really want?
Image Credit: Martineric | CC License
I’m so with you, Marissa! I’ve never had the slightest hankering for any kind of competitive sport. I don’t want to prove myself on a mountain. (I don’t even like camping.) I can’t get the least bit excited about the goals like that, that so many people have. It’s not that I’m a softie, as such, but I prefer my hard to come in a different variety.
I’m also really bad at making up these lists to start with… I have vaporous big goals, but I really live one-foot-in-front-of-the-other. Actually, I don’t have a bucket list (or whatever). Ask me to think of one, and I’m not sure what I’d put on it.
I’d love to write a business best seller. That’s the only thing I can really think of. There are lots of places I’d like to see, but none of them are ZOMG PASSION.
I don’t want to learn to fly planes, helicopters, jump out of one of those things, sail a boat, or anything crazy of that nature. Even fluent German for me is more of a necessity than a love.
How did you come to figure out that you wanted to change your biz? How’d you come up with the real-you things on your Bucket List?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking I was doing my list wrong, because for the most part, it didn’t have Big Impressive Goals on it (like climbing a mountain). And I wouldn’t say that every item on it has a huge flame of passion behind it. Some of the things on my list just make me really happy when I consider them, or they kind of make my stomach do that flippy thing it does when I the idea of something really tickles my fancy.
For instance, one of my items is to read all the books in my bookshelf. That’s not a “Big Impressive” goal or one that I’d say is white hot passion, but it’s one that makes me happy & gives me a boost when I think about it. Another item is to visit all of the states in the U.S. I can’t say I’m a passionate traveler in the way I know other folks are passionate about traveling… but the goal of visiting all 50 states inspires me. It lights a spark inside me.
It’s definitely true that not all of my list items cause a giant fireball of passion for me… there are a lot that are more like sparklers, or glitter explosions. But I know when I hit on something that’s a resonant goal for me–no matter how big or small it might seem–because it makes me smile. It sparks something or fans a flame or makes my stomach do that flippy thing. 🙂
For the most part, I live pretty one-foot-in-front-of-the-other too, so making Gigantic Goals doesn’t fit me very well. It’s shooting in the dark, and feels sort of… misaligned, in a way. And I guess I’m finally realizing that that’s my list: it’s not a grandiose vision of my life set forth in impressive goals, but rather an eclectically curated collection of whimsies, aspirations, woo-hoo-inducing ideas.
Other items: do backflips on a trampoline, keep a journal every day for a year, own a soft-serve ice cream machine, have an apple tree in my yard that produces apples I really like to eat, learn to bake spectacular chocolate chip cookies from memory. 🙂
That’s what sparks me. I get passionate about the little things, I suppose, the way others get passionate about big things. The little things are what give me momentum & happiness. And I’m okay with that… and that’s how I finally came up with MY list, instead of a list of what I thought I should have.
Whoooo… wordy answer. Quelle surprise. 😉
As to how I figured out I wanted to change my biz… I will probably be talking more about that in the days to come, but the “spark” behind the change was the a-ha moment I mention here:
I am so completely smashingly in love with this post, omg. If I tried to type all the yes in my head, my hands would explode.
I am very glad that you opted for a commenting option that did not involve hand explosion. 😉
And thank you, dahhhling!!
What a great post, Marissa! As Steven Covey writes in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s no good to get to the top of the ladder, only to find out it’s leaning against the wrong wall!
I’ve spent acres of energy envying what other people had, or thinking I *should*. It’s taken me years to get clarity around what I really want, and setting my goals accordingly.
In fact, it’s an ongoing process and I expect it will be life-long. 🙂
(Like you, though, I’m pretty darn clear that running a marathon is not on the list…)
Allow me to “Me Too!” your point about it being an ongoing process. Absolutely. There are weeks where I’m so centered and grounded in my own Self and clarity around what I want that a hurricane couldn’t move me… And then there are the other weeks, when I find myself in a hamster wheel chasing after a goal I later realize I didn’t really even care about. (But it looked so shiny at the time!)
Like so many aspects of my life, this one’s a work in progress. Which is how it should be… if I had it down pat already, life would just be too easy and dull, right? 😉
Love this, darling. You are so spot on, as usual!!
Hey, Marissa! I had to respond when I saw the 100% raw diet on your list. I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit recently and reading your post just helped me realize it’s not on my someday list but my should list. Matter of fact, as of now it’s on the “quite likely never” list. Score one for you, Marissa. Another problem solved lol!
Woo-hoo! I’m all about the problem solving. Glad you’re able to move that one off the list… and I hope in its place you put something that completely rocks your world!
Crackling, sizzling, so good! I’ve been trying to get the bottom of this recently too. I’m doing Danielle LaPorte’s Firestarter Sessions, which has me questioning the things I thought I wanted.
I realized a lot of those things don’t make me giddy with feelings of joy and passion and oh-hell-yea! So, they’re not on my list for me. But, filling the list with my true passions and desires is a hard exercise.
I think I have to give myself permission to start small. Right now there are only a handful of things that make me want to dive in uninhibited and as soon as possible. I feel like I’d rather stick with those few things then create some well-rounded or lengthy list.
Lovely post, Marissa!
Isn’t that funny, that we’re so much better at identifying what we should want than what we do want? I can come up with flowing lists of shoulds so easily, but creating my lists of actual wants and self-resonant goals is a much, much slower process. Danielle’s Firestarter sessions (and basically anything she writes, ever) is great for inspiration and helping the clear away the shoulds. Fabeku Fatunmise‘s music is another powerful inspiration source. There’s something about his music that shakes away the shoulds & helps me get clarity around things.
And I offer up a “Hell yes!” to starting small. Some of life’s biggest a-has and awakenings happen because of the smallest steps and shifts.
Crackle ‘n sizzle on, Leigh! 🙂
I wish you’d written this, and I’d read it, six years ago. Because it might have persuaded me to listen to my inner voice that said “I don’t want to run a marathon, I just want [so-and-so] to admire my determination.”
(I never did run that marathon; my quadriceps had the final say on that.)
Still, better I should see this post today than not at all! Thank you for writing it.
I found this completely by accident, via @zenatplay’s website. This is a fantastic post and ought to be shared with the world.
I have a kind of literary equivalent to a bucket list. Books that I “should” read (or “should” have read). Books that will mean I’m educated and know things. Books that are classics and everybody is supposed to read and appreciate.
Just before my 32nd birthday, running around for the Manchester Literature Festival, I realised I was wasting my time. Why bother wasting my time reading things that I don’t enjoy for the sake of being “well-read”? To prove that I’m a certain set of things. Life is short, and the only should we need is this one: the one where we should spend it doing things that suit ourselves, rather than trying to measure up to society’s expectations. Now I get to read all the books I really want to, and I enjoy reading much more.
I am anti bucket list all together myself! I find that the experiences that happen to me just living my life are way cooler than I could have even imagined for a bucket list. For example, I can only put places on my bucket list that I’ve heard of, but what about all the amazing places that I haven’t heard of? The activities I didn’t know existed? The people that I never knew I was dying to meet?
Bucket lists are sort of a catch-22 in my opinion – you can only include things that are already in your world. That’s easy, and kind of boring to me. I already know about that stuff. I’m more interested in growing into the things beyond where I’m at now.
P.S. Running a marathon definitely doesn’t make my list either! I hate to run. I would have to put it more on my “torture list”. 😉
I never made a list like this, though I think I have a short mental list of places that I want to travel, which I am sure will expand.
I went skydiving last month, with a friend who is an avid skydiver. I had never planned to jump out of a plane. There was construction going on outside my house one weekend, so I was looking for friends to couch surf at, and my sky diving friend who I bumped into wandering another of my friend’s neighborhood had a free ticket and I was like, “sure”. I recommend it, if you’re into that sort of thing. My brother is going to do the same thing now, it was on his list. My husband assures me he has no interest whatsoever.
Even though I don’t have a bucket list doesn’t mean this doesn’t resonate, though. I am still working on goals that I don’t know how badly I really want them. At some point, I decided I needed goals, so as not to stagnate, without knowing what I am passionate about, but that leaves me wide open to filling those places with generally-recognized-as-good types of goals. career goals. body goals. are they what I want? or do I want to start a commune in the wilderness? bring down the system? drop everything else and paint murals that will make passers-by cry? maybe figure out how to lay in a hammock all day every day without starving? i REALLY like being lazy. is that a passion to follow?
Cool post, so well articulated. 🙂
I deleted my 101 Things to Do List because I kept changing it, adding things that I actually did but were not in my original list and watching some of the original ones linger for months and months.
Hehheh. I’m training for marathon ’cause I happened to promise to do it next summer when I was drinking with my friends. In my wishlist I have only to wish to try live the life to the fullest.
I agree with you. I SOOOO don’t want to run a marathon but I have a fabulous list of other things I want to do – nothing involving sweat, sharks or seeing how long I can endure something….
I LOVE how you address goal setting and simplifying. Maybe now I can get unstuck! Thank you.