My favorite question to ask people is “what do you want to do with your life?” Intrusive as it may be (and perhaps the reason I don’t do so well at parties), I feel the question effectively cuts to out emotional core. If people say that they don’t know, I have a brief flash in my mind of the convenience store scene from fight club before regaining my composure and responding with something like “oh, why not?” I cannot understand how a person can go through life without at least a basic understanding of what they want to do before they die, which is what the aforementioned question is essentially asking…though in less morbid terms (the difference between being that odd guy at parties versus that guy who gets into fights at parties).
If you want to be productive and motivated as well as feel all the positive emotions associated with these concepts, you need to live with a purpose. To put it bluntly, you need a long-term goal list. In the last few articles, I have discussed short-term goals as a means of maintaining motivation at the daily and weekly level. They are invaluable in this regard, but they are not a replacement for the big picture goals that give you a purpose on this Earth. They are the inspirational frame work upon which short-term goal lists are built and they are what keep us anchored in productive living, as opposed to simply coasting through life on autopilot, waiting to die.
Okay, so now that the morbid, life challenging portion of the article has been covered, I think it’s time to give an example of a long-term goal list. These lists can be as long as you want, though I would recommend that if you run out of space on a single sheet of paper, you’ve written too many. I keep mine to under 20 and have a nice little empty check box beside each just waiting to be checked when the goal is completed. Furthermore, every New Year’s Eve, I review and revise the list to reflect shifts in my personal values and what I strive to accomplish in life.
An abridged list of my life goals (the full list has goals) is as follows:
1) Travel to Belgium
2) Publish a Board Game
3) Publish a Book
4) Give a TED Talk
5) Obtain a Teaching Certificate [completed]
6) Read the Bible front-to-back (I would not call myself a Christian, but I feel I should at least be familiar with the book…also it’s easily the longest thing I have ever read).
7) Run a Marathon [completed]
8) Travel to London [completed]
9) Perform the Human Flag
10) Roast my own coffee and brew my own beer from scratch
…the list continues
Try it out for yourself. Write down a list goals that you want to accomplish in this lifetime. Try to keep them measurable and specific enough so that you can acknowledge when they are completed. Beyond this, you have complete freedom on the number and types of goals you want to accomplish. Just keep in mind, before I leave this Earth, I [insert name here] what to do _________
Then hang it up somewhere that is visible every day!