Making Things Happen is a Skill

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Image credit: Sarah H. Dee (flickr: 31floors)

In the two years that I’ve been running The Finishing School and preaching the gospel of Getting Out There and Doing Stuff, I’ve talked to a lot of people who don’t understand why they should have life goals.

Why go out of your way to list these arbitrary and random things?  Why bother trying to achieve something that doesn’t directly benefit you?

Or,

Isn’t that a first-world luxury?  Something you can only think about because you’re satiated to boredom?  Some people are starving, and you’re checking off continents and crap just because you can?

Having a list of life goals is not about arbitrary timesinks.  Nor is it about boredom and privilege.

Having a list of life goals– and, more importantly, doing them– is about something totally different.  It’s about Read More

Bucket List Update: Mountaineering, Marathons, and Lýðveldið Ísland

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Lest you think I just sit around and read productivity books all day (cf. this and that), I figure I should post some of progress on my own life goals list every once and a while.  Since I got back from Africa, here are the goals I’ve been working towards– the ones that I’m most excited about right now.

 

21.) Climb Mt. Rainier

I am hard pressed to think of a family vacation growing up that didn’t involve either the open water or mountains.  It seemed like my dad’s definition of a relaxing time necessarily involved covering vast changes in elevation on foot.

And while I’ve wanted to climb mountains for years, after Kilimanjaro, I got the bug bad.  Something about staring down on the sunrise over the savanna maybe ;)

I’ve started training for Rainier– training referring more to learning mountaineering skills than, say, spinning classes.  That doesn’t mean you don’t need to be in shape for Rainier– at 14,400, it’s nothing to scoff at.  But an unhurried ascent, good body temperature monitoring, and plenty of water are more important than an olympian circulatory system.

A few weeks ago, I made my first technical climb– Humpback Mountain in the Cascades.  While it’s only a few minutes off I-90, the summit is a lot closer to the moon than it is to Seattle.

On the summit of Humpback Mountain

Next up is snow camping and glacier travel.

A friend of mine is a mountaineering instructor and he’s guiding me through the learning process here.  This is really ideal.  The small group we’ll climb Rainier with will ultimately be more flexible, more fun, and way cheaper than the guided mountaineering tours.

Tracking towards July 2012.

Read More

It’s Friday Night. What’s Your Thing?

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Bucket list masters The Buried Life (photo credit: MTV)

Unless you are working at your dream job, the weekend is your the most time you will consistently have to work on your goals.  Unless you’re self-employed and living the 4-hour workweek, it’s

  1. Nights
  2. Weekends
  3. Vacation

That’s it.  That’s all there is.  And it’s really easy to let it slip by.

Wanna be a black belt in jiu-jitsu?  Want to learn Mandarin?  Or how to cook Indian food?  Those are weeknight things.  You don’t accomplish these goals by working on them once a week.

Want to visit every state?  Or start a business on the side?  Maybe you want to do a solo skydive.  These goals are weekend tasks.  They take big investments of time, but they can be done in 2.5 day stretches.

Your 9 to 5 is great and I hope it’s what you always dream of, but I hope it’s not all you dream of.  All your other dreams are for your 5 to 9.  How well are you using yours?

* * *

Pick one thing on your bucket list that you will make progress towards this weekend.

Yes, I know, you may have dozens.  I’ve seen lists with hundreds of items.

But you don’t accomplish something by thinking of a 100-item list.  You accomplish it by thinking of one thing and working towards that.

So for this weekend, pick one item off that list– or make the list if you haven’t already– and start working towards that thing.  It was only because I started tonight that I’ve done anything on my list.  Now, a year and a half later, I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, read the Bible cover to cover, started a small business (we’ll see where that goes), and launched this blog, among other things.

What are you going to start tonight?

* * *

For a bit more inspiration, check out The Buried Life.  These four guys started with nothing but a bucket list and an old van five and a half years ago.  To date, they’ve done 81 of the things on their bucket list, including:

  • 1.) Open the 6 o’clock news
  • 8.) Ride a bull
  • 25.) Capture a fugitive
  • 41.) Make a toast at a stranger’s wedding
  • 74.) Deliver a baby

It turns out they have a show on MTV too.  Check out their very first trailer.

These guys mean business.  Want to hear more?  Check out their YouTube channel (to see one of them ask out Megan Fox, among other things) or buy their book ”What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?”.

Absolutely sick.

It’s Friday night.  What are you doing this weekend?

 

Merry Christmas! Here’s my Bucket List!

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After receiving numerous requests to post my own bucket list on the blog, I’ve done just so here.  Check it out.  The number 1 item is “Shave my face with a whaling harpoon”

[Profiles] John Goddard: Patron Saint of Bucket Lists

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This is part of a series of posts I’m running called “Profiles in Awesomeness”.  In it, I talk about the disgustingly prolific and ridiculously accomplished thinkers and doers whose lives and philosophies can inspire us and teach us how to accomplish our own goals.

This is my first profiles in awesomeness post, and I think an appropriate subject is John Goddard.  Here’s why.

When John Goddard was 15, a friend of his dad’s told him he regretted not doing all the things he wanted to when he was John’s age.  John, struck by the comment, got out a yellow legal pad and scribbled out 127 things he wanted to do before he died.

He was a pretty ambitious 15-year old.  Heavy hitting items include:

  • Circumnavigate the globe
  • Climb Cheop’s pyramid
  • Climb Kilimanjaro, Rainier, the Matterhorn, and Everest
  • Milk a poisonous snake
  • Hold breath underwater for 2.5 minutes
  • Explore the Amazon, Congo, and Nile rivers from source to mouth

Etc, etc, for 127 items.

Now here’s the ridiculous thing.  While most 15-year old boys could have compiled a similar list, most of us wouldn’t dedicate the rest of our lives to achieving every single one of them. Read More

Making the List

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Photo credit: Matt Beckwith (flickr: mattbeckwith)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?

-Marianne Williamson

 

What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?

-Robert Schuller

Considering this is about life goals, you might think I have some sentimental attachment to other goals that people make, like New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t.  New Year’s resolutions are awful.  If you want to reform yourself and think it’s worth waiting until next January to do so, you’re raising my blood pressure.  In fact, leave.  Here’s a link to facebook, where you can piddle away your time until the new year: www.facebook.com.

Instead, let’s talk about how to make life goals.

I’ve seen a few blogs and books that tell you how to make your list of life’s goals.  Those raise my blood pressure too.  If you want a discussion of whether you should use pen or pencil, I can provide links.  If you want to know the best kind of paper for writing your goals on, I’ll be glad to refer you elsewhere.

All of that is immaterial compared to two things: making a list and working on it.

Don’t worry about anything else.  Use a notepad, Notepad, a Moleskine, a napkin, whatever.  If there’s no paper around and you tattoo it on your arm, all the better (send pictures if you choose that route).  The thing is, you can make a perfectly good and fulfilling list of life’s goals without reading another sentence of advice.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and put together at least a draft.  When you come back, I’ll ask you some questions just to make sure you didn’t forget anything at the very bottom of your heart.

And if you think you have it and never read this blog again, then all the best!

The Scenarios

I know of four questions that trigger that wild, joyful thinking so critical to making goals more than anything else I’ve heard. Read More

The Question That Started It All

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Photo credit: Renata Virzintaite (flickr: renatala)

Here’s a question worth asking yourself:

If you never had to work another day in your life, and money was no object, what would you do?

I heard that question senior year of college. I put the book I was reading down and glanced blankly at the ceiling. That night I gave my imagination 10 million dollars, 80 years, and made the list. Though it was phrased differently, I realized I had essentially created a list of life goals.

The first funny realization I had about my list was that despite the prompt, most things on the list didn’t require a million dollars to start doing– not even close.

  • Run the NYC marathon
  • Learn Krav Maga
  • Publish a book

To be fair, some things would have required some extra capital.

  • Go shark fishing in Africa
  • Be a researcher in Antarctica for a few months
  • Become a BASE jumper

A few months after making my list, I found myself with roughly six weeks of free time. After wasting two days refreshing facebook and reading useless blogs, I found the folded-up piece of paper with the list, circled the ones I could start doing tomorrow, and went to it.

Each week for the rest of the summer, I rock climbed twice, ran three times in training for the NYC marathon, and took four Krav Maga lessons. I read every day. My personal training in life goals accomplishment required very little money at all (the Krav gym gave me a massive discount), but I was filling my schedule with the things I would freely choose to do had I infinite resources.

That was one of the best summers of my life. It was refreshing and optimistic. I know why– it’s because I did those things which built me up, which gave me energy– the things I deemed more worth doing than anything else. The lessons I took from that summer ended up shaping the next year of my life, and giving me an idea that I believe should have existed long ago (that will be covered soon).

Twelve months later, I realize I have started taking my goals in life seriously. And I’m trying to help others do the same. To those ends, I’ve created this blog.

I don’t know exactly what I will post here, but I promise to put my best foot forward. If you want to join me, write down your list– call it your bucket list, your bohemian millionaire list, your bargain with death, I don’t care– but write it down and read on. Everything in the world will conspire to raze the dreams you don’t take seriously. But put your foot in the door. Make the list and make a brief commitment– make it right now, because it’s time to start taking your dreams very seriously.