why i’m trashing my life list…

… and starting over from scratch.

I flew out to West Palm Beach this past weekend for a press event and utilized the long flight to cross off a more mundane goal on my life list: #67: Finish a crossword puzzle (no cheating!).

And would you believe that I spent an entire seven hours of travel time, attempted 113 crossword puzzles and did not once fill up more than half of the puzzle?

I like words. A lot. And I know a few of them. But for some reason, there are too many for me to know and reference, and I’m going to stop beating myself up about it. Sure, writers should know words. After all, it’s our craft. But to be honest, I’d rather know joy.

And when I fail to complete a life list item, focusing so much on the completion of the task rather than the joy of the moment, I’m failing only myself.

So. I’m starting over. I’m going to slowly edit and re-invent my life list to reflect the goals that might be difficult, yes, but mean something to me. And who knows? Finishing a crossword puzzle might stay, but I can guarantee that the second it becomes joyless, it will go.

I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time, let’s be kind to ourselves. We’re just a work in progress, you know.

  • Erin! I actually just took a look at my life list (created this time last year) and half the things were completely irrelevant to me now. I too decided to scrap my list and start over. Maybe my “life-list” will be more like a “to do within 5 years or less” list.

  • Do it! I did the same thing with mine. I wrote the majority of my list in a few days time mostly with things I thought would be interesting. But over time, I have deleted a few things that started to feel like chores rather than adventures. I imagine my Life List will change over my life time as new things inspire or challenge me, and other things seem less fun or important to me. At the end of the day, my life list is a guide to having a good time not a task list :)

  • This is such a good point Erin. A goal is great, but not if it doesn’t provide a meaningful and helpful outcome. If all you are doing is crossing something off a list and saying Thank GOD I finished that – maybe it isn’t worth it. Now, if you finished a crossword puzzle that came with a million dollar prize, that might make it list-worthy. :)

  • i love this, erin. sometimes, these self-imposed projects become torture because why? we’re stubborn? i’m doing a 365-photo project and sometimes i don’t feel like taking a photo, or i don’t have anything good for that day, but i won’t give up for some reason. i guess i feel challenged by it, and to be honest, posting something that isn’t so good now and then (like today) might be good for me because i’m such a perfectionist and that quality is over-rated!

  • oooooh i LOVE that. ha, i’m totally not a perfectionist in any way (sometimes i’m way too kind to myself!), so maybe thats why i love quitting things. ;)

  • “…the second it becomes joyless, it will go.”…that is a fabulous way to look at most things in life!

  • word. do it priorities change. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that i’ll never be good at scrabble and i dislike playing it with the crazy intense competitive scrabble players (you know what i’m talking about). we need to be easier on ourselves!

  • This could be a mad converSAtion! Love Cindy’s line about how perfectionism is overrated, and that’s one I need to put on my daily list. I’m sure internalizing it would increase joy! Which cracks me up to hear you say you’re good at quitting things–you’re graceful, and unapologetic about wanting life to be fun, and both are valuable skills m’dear. And Katie, I have learned to avoid Scrabble because it makes me feel badly about myself, for not being competitive mostly.

  • Loved reading your note, Erin; and the comments that followed. Sounds like a great, big Thumbs Up to editing that list. I appreciate the idea of a chance to free myself from things I thought I ‘should’ do — or wanted to do at some point, but aren’t list-toppers any more…. Onward!

  • you know, i’ve been thinking about making a list…probably a 30 before 30 type list. but i’m a bit leery about it because i would do exactly what you talked about above and be hard on myself if i don’t get things done. i have some huge changes ahead of me this year too. maybe instead of an epic list, i’ll put smaller things on it…like “try a new face wash” or “cook steak”

  • Fully agree my friend. Now go recycle those crossword books! Just think of all the gossip mags you could have been reading on the plane. Ha!

  • Yes! This! throw out anything that won’t bring you joy. Life Lists are, to a large degree, about learning and growing. You learned something small but very important about yourself. This is awesome.

    p.s. I can’t wait to hug you this weekend!

  • true dat Erin! Seek out that joy, and banish the rest! And/or share your crossword puzzle with me and when we can’t get 24 down, we’ll just peek to the back of the book.

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