How long is it supposed to take us to figure out what we really want to do in life?
20 years? 40 years? 65 years..?
I don’t know. Some people seem to know what they want to do in life as early as grade school.
For the rest of us, it can take several years and a number of difficult failures to figure it out.
After 26 years, I think I have a pretty good idea. And I learned of a tool that can help others speed up the process for figuring out and accomplishing what they want to do in life too.
It’s not my idea, so I won’t take credit for it.
But the key is it works.
How do I know? Because it’s working for me… and it’s worked for a number of others.
I’ll to talk about two people who have used this simple tool to accomplish some incredible goals below.
Here’s a quick snippet of their amazing accomplishments:
One of these individuals has been called “The World’s Greatest Goal Achiever.” He has…
- visited over 160 countries
- traveled around the world 4 times
- milked a poisonous snake here and there
- and he became the first man to explore the entire length of world’s longest river, the Nile. That’s a total of 4,132 miles from start to finish if you’re counting. (Oh yea. He did it in a kayak…)
The second individual has held titles of CEO, COO, CIO, Sr. VP and Founding Director—all at separate businesses, including a top-rated healthcare non-profit that he started to improve access to healthcare in underserved communities around the world. He has…
- become a best-selling author who has written over 37 books
- swam with sharks
- rock climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, including the world’s tallest single summit, Mount Kilimanjaro.
- and he was invited as one of only 100 world leaders appointed to the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow 2000 (joining the ranks of Bill Gates, Tony Blair, R. J. Rowling, and Lance Armstrong)
Preettyyy damn impressive, right?
Here’s the best part: the same tool that they used to accomplish these extraordinary goals can work for us too.
What is it?
They created a blueprint for their life called a Life List.
What if We Saved the Best for… Now?
What is a Life List?
Well, it’s like a bucket list. Except the emphasis isn’t on experiencing the best life has to offer at some undetermined date in the future.
The focus of a Life List is on building a richer, fuller life that propels us to experience more of what life has to offer—now.
In other words, instead of accepting a rain check on life for one large lump sum after the rainbow some distant date in the future, you’re depositing small amounts each and every year. Those amounts build upon each other to make the pot even greater than it would’ve been otherwise.
This is the same concept for how wealth is created using compound interest by the way.
If it works for my bank account, it should work for my life too!
Fast-Forward to the Future
Let’s do a little role-playing, okay?
Let’s say you didn’t make a choice.
Instead of consciously choosing to opt-out of the Deferred Life Plan, you accepted the plan that society advertises of postponing the best experiences of your life until that “special someday”; ultimately leaving you to defer the fulfillment of those experiences into later and later years of your life. Usually after retirement.
So, now you’re finally retired and you realize it’s time to do all those things you put off until later in life because later in life is now.
You write your bucket list, and you’re ready start checking off items one-by-one. Yes!
But then it hits you…
You’re 65 years old.
You don’t have the energy you once had in your 20’s and 30’s. You had so much that you wanted to do back then!
Like skydiving, living overseas for a year, and streaking naked through the quad into gymnasium.
But now you’re too old for that…
I mean, who wants to see a 65 year old streaking naked through the quad and into the gymnasium?
In your 20’s it might have been cute and funny. Why not? We’re young and dumb, baby!
In your 30’s people may think your kids drove you to it or something. They have families too though, so they sympathize. There’s still support for you there.
In your 40’s it’s downright offensive. WTF are you doing???
When you’re 65… people want you institutionalized!
They’re ready to lock you up so they never see your naked, old, life-worn body again.
No three strikes for you.
No passing Go.
One 65 year old nude exhibition is enough!
You’re probably thinking, “What is this guy talking about?And did he really just reference Frank the Tank from the movie Old School?
“Anyways, I’m not 65. That’s light years away! I have plenty of time to do what I want.
“Right now I’m doing what I have to do so that I can do what I want to do. Plus I’m making plans to retire early!”
Here’s the thing buck-o…
While retirement plans are a great idea, do you recall how you miraculously foresaw all of the events of the Great Recession in 2008 coming wayyy in advance, so instead of being caught by surprise like 99.99% of the world, you were fully prepared for it?
Yea… Me neither.
Jerk move. I know. But that’s my point!
Long-term plans only account for so much until something unexpected happens in our lives, altering our plans with warp speed. Things like medical emergencies, financial disasters, deaths in the family, or even the birth of children.
Not only that, but time just has a way of escaping us.
I mean, just think about your last 2 years… where did they go?
Better yet, are you where you expected yourself to be now from 2 years ago?
Did you actually sit down to write a plan?
Why do you think your bucket list will be any different from how Father Time has worked in the rest of your life?
Now, this isn’t meant to make you feel like a horrible person… Reality TV shows, news media, and social networks do sufficient job of that for you already.
This is meant to bring to your attention a seriously important reminder:
Tomorrow isn’t promised today. We need a plan for NOW!
And I came across someone who can help us…
Introducing Dr. Chris Stout — And His Inspiration, “The Real-Life Indiana Jones”
I read this article by Dr. Chris Stout describing his inspiration for the creation of his Life List. What he wrote inspired me, along with 6,000+ other readers.
He wrote about this list (really, a life blueprint!) that he’s used to accomplish some of the biggest goals for his life.
And he’s accomplished some BIG goals!
In his article, Dr. Stout suggested some tips to help others accomplish their goals, too. And he revealed the inspiration behind his list.
His inspiration was John Goddard (aka “The Real-Life Indiana Jones”).
At 15 years of age, John Goddard imagined all that he wanted to accomplish in his life…
All of the distant villages and countries of the world he wanted to travel to.
All of the crazy adventures he wanted to go on and exotic foods he wanted to taste.
All of the peaks he wanted to climb and jungles he wanted to explore.
All of the breathtaking sights, like the Great Barrier Reef and Galapagos Islands, that he wanted to see for himself and photograph.
All of the unique (and death-inviting) experiences he wanted to undertake and overcome.
And all of the various skills and areas of knowledge he wanted to acquire to enhance his ability to enjoy life to the fullest in every moment.
When he was finished, John was left with 127 goals which became his Life List. John’s List became the blueprint for his life from that point forward.
So how did John do?
Before he passed on May 17, 2013 at 88 years of age, John accomplished an incredible109 out of 127goals that he created for himself.
And remember, these weren’t just any goals. His goals are both outrageous and audacious.
That’s why the Goddard who has been called the “Real-Life Indiana Jones” has also been referred to as the World’s Greatest Goal Achiever.
(If you haven’t seen it yet, go take a look at his Life List real quick and come back. REALLY cool stuff! You won’t be disappointed!)
You Don’t Have to Be Hard-Wired with Motivation
John Goddard’s example set the stage for a young Chris Stout to begin creating his own Life List. And Dr. Stout’s list is equally impressive.
In addition to accomplishments of becoming a best-selling author and summiting 3 of the World’s 7 Summits, he’s also grown his non-profit from its infancy to a top-ranked global healthcare non-profit, hiked the Himalayas, completed an ultra-marathon and served as a consultant to the White House. And he plans to achieve much, much more.
While some people are hard-wired with motivation, Dr. Stout admits that he is not one of those people. He needs a bit more structure.
For him, his Life List is it.
It allows him to look back on what he’s accomplished and gives him that extra push when his motivation is running low. This is an invaluable tool for him in accomplishing huge goals.
Could you use a little help to achieve some of your biggest, seemingly unrealistic goals?
I know. Dumb question…
We all could! And that’s why the Life List is so powerful!
That extra push to keep going can mean the difference between a life-long, permanent failure and a temporary failure turned success.
So HOW do you actually start creating your Life List?
Let’s take a detailed look at how to create your Life List below…
How To Start Writing Your Life List (4 Easy Steps)
“It’s Only A Dream Until You Write It Down. And Then It Becomes a Goal.”
Alright, so let’s get started on the good stuff — the creation your Life List!
I’d like to help you get started in 4 simple steps. The key is just getting started.
To begin with, there is a mental framework adjustment that may need to take place.
In sports, as in life, our success is 90 percent mental to 10 percent physical.
In order to begin transforming your dreams into reality (in the form of goal-setting), we need to begin with our mindset.
- Don’t allow yourself to be limited by what’s “realistic”
This is HUGELY important!This is so important, that without it, we can’t move forward. So take a moment to read this next sentence very closely and suck it all in…
Forget realistic.Some of what’s “realistic” are just self-limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot accomplish in life. These beliefs are sometimes imposed upon you by others or adopted by your mind because society generally accepts them as true.
People around you can’t accomplish certain goals, so they want to tell you that you can’t either. Even well-meaning people, like your friends or parents, impose their beliefs upon you. Forget these beliefs for a moment.
The greatest accomplishments in life have been by Practical Idealists who refuse to accept the limitations of being realistic.
Take a moment to read this excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s #1 New York Time’s best-selling book The 4 Hour Work Week talking about why doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic (this is not some new-age, “self-helpish” BS):
“From contacting billionaires to rubbing elbows with celebrities… it’s as easy as believing it can be done. It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming.
“If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate your competition and underestimate yourself.
“Having an unusually large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and attributions that go along with any goal.
“The worst that could happen wasn’t crashing and burning, it was accepting terminal boredom as a tolerable status quo.”
It’s precisely because so many people are convinced that they’re incapable of achieving the unrealistic that makes going after normal goals MORE difficult than the big, scary, unrealistic goals. And that’s precisely why we will go after them.
There’s another self-limiting belief that gets in our way of attempting the unrealistic: a false belief that we don’t deserve it.
The belief that, for some reason, someone else is “more deserving” of happiness than we are. Or perhaps we are asking for too much.
We’ve all struggled with these thoughts from time to time.
Maybe you’re dealing with them right now.
There is a great poem that I’m reminded of when I think I’m asking for too much out of life, or when I want to minimize my goals. I’d like you to read it below…
“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have gladly paid!”
– My Wage, Jessica Rittenhouse
(You may also be happy to know this wisdom is also quoted in the Bible, in the Sermon on the Mount.)
Remind yourself that you do deserve better!
Allow your imagination to run WILD!
Forget realistic and go for it!
Now that we have the right mental framework to start with, let’s move on to the next step.
- Start by thinking about the things that interest you most and what you’d like to accomplish.
Keep this important note in mind: Your list is for YOU.No one else has to contribute to it, and it’s not required that you present it to anyone, unless you want to.
Your list doesn’t have to be dare-devilish like John Goddard’s or as demanding as Dr. Stout’s.It can encompass your basic goals for the year as well as the worthy ideals that have the power to transform your life.
Just the process of creating your list will tell you a lot about yourself.
And don’t worry, you can continue to add things to your list as you learn about new, exciting things that interest you. Or you can change it as old items become no longer possible or feasible.
Here are a few questions to get you started…
What are the places you want to visit or travel to? (Go hiking in Yellowstone National Park? Safari in Africa? Stand on the ground floor of the ancient Roman Colosseum in Italy where gladiators battled?)
What are some of the skills you want to develop? (Learn to meditate? Learn to code so you can develop your own mobile app? Be able to speak another language fluently?)
What are some events you want to experience? (Attend a Kanye West concert? Go to Burning Man? Participate in The Running of the Bulls in Spain?)
What are a few goals you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime? (Lose 10 pounds? Run a marathon? Own your own business?)
Start here. And if you become stuck, ask yourself these two additional questions to jog your brain:
“What’s one thing I HAVE to do before all is said and done?”
“What’s the one thing I will REGRET if I don’t do it in the next 12-18 months?”
- Now that you’ve thought about what you want to do, write it down!
Start by creating a brainstorming copy. Find a blank piece of lined paper.You don’t have to make it organized or categorize it in any order. As they come to your mind and you realize it’s something you really want to do, write it down. You can cross items out or add more later.
The purpose of this is to just to get your mind flowing and to see your ideas slowly turning from your dreams into your goals.Actionable, achievable goals.
Once you begin writing these ideas down, you’ll start noticing that some of these desires have been deep inside your mind for a long time. A few of these ideas may have their roots in your childhood.
They were just waiting for you write them down.
Just the process of writing these ideas down feels good. I promise.
- After you’ve written your Life List down… find friends, family, and significant others that are interested in joining you.Toss the idea around with a couple of people who you think would be willing to join you on your trip or work with you to achieve a similar goal for themselves. But be careful not to introduce your ideas to people you know who will badmouth your goals or burden you with negative energy.
That’s okay. Maybe you can share it with them after you’ve knocked out a couple of the items on your Life List.
Once you get the ball rolling on accomplishing a few of your goals, you’ll have more confidence to share your ideas with some of those people because you will have already seen the Life List working for you.(Maybe you’ll post yours online like I’m doing now. If you do, make sure to share yours with me!)
My Life List — A Snapshot Example
I know it can be tough to know what a document like this may look like before it’s completed, so I’ve included a few items from My Life List for you to take a look at.
My Life List is categorized by general type of activity and sub-categorized by specific type of activity (ex. Travel — destinations, historical sites & landmarks, misc. travel). I’ve ordered each activity numerically and left empty slots to account for future additions.
It works for me. You may want to experiment with your own approach and change it as you see fit over time.
Travel (includes Destinations, Historical Sites & Landmarks, & Misc. Travel)
#3 Visit 75+ countries
#48 Live at sea for 2+ weeks
#67 Visit Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru ✓ (Visited Machu Picchu — on the walk down we bottled water from an aquifer near Machu Picchu and later had it blessed by an energy healer)
Learning & Skills (includes Reading/Studies & Skills)
#353 Learn another form of martial arts and compete in a match fight
#357 Earn a chess rating of 1600+
Activities & Exercise (Activities, Extreme Activities, & Exercise)
#601 Go BASEjumping in a wing suit
#602 Hike an active volcano ✓ (Hiked Volcano Telica in Leon, Nicaragua — the volcano erupted 90 days after we camped out for the night at the top)
#651 Watch Kobe Bryant play at Staples Center before he retires
#650 See Jay-Z live in concert ✓ (Attended his opening-night concert, first of eight sold-out shows, at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York where the Brooklyn Nets now play. The whole building was yelling “Hov” and throwing up the Roc)
Goals (Goals & Personal Accomplishments)
#702 Found a 501(c)(3)
#704 Own my dream car — a black BMW 750Li
#707 Design a building or my home
BONUS: Want more help creating your Life List? Ask the EXPERT!
I’m fortunate that Dr. Chris Stout has agreed to have me interview him so that Practical Idealist readers can benefit from his experience.
This interview will give you access to Dr. Stout’s best strategies for creating a Life List that works for you and deeper psychological insights as to why the Life List propels you to achieve more!
In our interview, I’ll ask Dr. Stout such questions as:
- What did the very first version of his Life List look like? (HINT: it didn’t start off grandiose as you may imagine…)
- How he overcame significant obstacles from early in his childhood, including extreme childhood obesity and the loss of his home, to accomplish items his Life List?
- Top strategies to achieve your goals despite not having a lot of money, limited free time, or not being a “high-motivation individual”
- The key to accomplishing your own goals AND making your experiences more enriching
- And many more to further help you in develop your Life List!
I’m making the interview available to all Practical Idealist members.
To receive a notification when the interview is available, just click the Notify Me button below… (it’s free)
So….. what are some things you would place on YOUR Life List?
Let me know in the comments below!
PS. If you’d like to see My Life List in full, send me a message here. And if there’s anything on my list you’re interested in joining me for, we should chat about it.