Goal Directed Living: Life Lists and More

Date: 2021-01-21

Time to Read: 4 Minutes



Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

As life almost predictably became unpredictable in February, I found that many of the goals and plans that I had made in the month prior to the new year became irrelevant or deprecated. Worse yet, I found that my routine had also become very “dynamic” and other activities (packing, moving) took precedence over my task-oriented schedule. Right before December, I came up with a list of “Annual Goals” and proceeded to try to work backwards from their completion to decompose the steps to achieve them over the next 12 month period. As always, the goals were fairly ambitious and each month became overcrowded with “tasks”. It’s likely that even if Covid-19 had never hit or I did not take a new job elsewhere, I probably would have still achieved less than 50% of the goals that I had created before the New Year. I, often, try to do everything at once and though, many books recommend against this approach (See Derek Sivers’ ‘Don’t Be A Donkey’ analogy), it’s a major personality flaw.

Anyway. Once I had finally began to settle into this new life, I came to the realization that I needed to institute a new strategy for intentional living again. My annual goals that I had created were largely irrelevant at this point, so I needed to start from almost scratch.

First, I sat down to just write an overall “audit” of my current life situation. This included documenting current outstanding problems, concerns, nagging issues and even any positive wins or aspects of my current life. The idea of this exercise was simply to reflect on my  current situation to solidify a starting point for developing any new goals. Next, I needed to institute an actual morning routine (something that has been sorely missing from my entire life basically). This necessity was prompted by reading Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. As a self-described night owl who despised mornings, this would be challenge to do consistently.

Next, I decided to re-visit my goals methodology. Instead of simply creating new annual goals based around my new life changes; I decided to engage with a concept called “Life Lists”. In my usage a “Life List” is basically a list of achievements that I would like to accomplish in my life. It’s recommended to let your imagination have unfettered creative powers when creating a “Life List”. As I created my “Life List”, I imagined each item with an “Achievement Unlocked” indicator appearing upon completion. But “Life Lists” aren’t only future oriented, you can also document achievements that you achieved prior and simply mark them as completed. And as you complete an item on your Life List, you document when you completed it and any additional details. I broke my “Life List” out into six major areas (Financial, Business, Fitness, Travel, Spiritual, and Personal) with Personal being a sort-of “catch-all” for goals and achievements that did not fit nicely into the other categories. Inside of these categories, you could have sub-categories for further grouping of your items.

The nature of the items on the Life Lists demand a clear specificity in its completion but no detail regarding time. For example, a somewhat vague item of…

  • I want to become a real estate investor.

…Could have many different definitions of completing. Therefore, to make this “goal” more adaptable to my Life List, it could be broken into several distinct achievement points.

  • Own my first rental investment property.
  • Own x rental properties.
  • Own my first commercial rental investment property.
  • Cash flow x amount from my real estate investments.

My preference is to increase the significance of the achievement so that as you make progress in that specific direction, you can essentially visually see this progress as you mark each new item in the list as achieved. When marking an item as achieved, generally my rule is to mark it with the first month plus year that it was achieved.

Life Lists are suppose to scope your life, so I would keep the details at simply a month and year (possibly even only a year depending on the goal). For example, if I had a goal such as:

  • Bench Press 315lbs

And I achieved this goal twice or three times in a month or multiple times over a span of years, I would mark it with the month and year of the first time this achievement was achieved.

Well, what if I complete the achievement multiple times?

In these cases, such as recurring achievements, I would keep a separate document that essentially groups these completed achievements by year and month. Sometimes it helps to have such a document to reflect upon when you’re feeling like your life is lacking direction and progress; perhaps you’ve made more progress than you thought. It’s easy to feel unproductive despite actually being very productive while lost in the minutia of the day-to-day.

Also, when creating your life lists, dream as big as you can without resorting to overly abstract ideas since those often lack the specificity to make them easily achievable. For example, don’t limit yourself when setting your achievement goals. Don’t think, “I’ll never make $1,000,000/year.” If that’s something that you’d like to achieve in your life, throw it on the list (though in these grander cases, I’d recommend adding some smaller “step” achievements prior since loftier goals can sit undone for quite a while).

Your Life Lists will drive everything going forward.

Goal Directed Living

22 March, 2021
This series of posts outline my new strategy at attempting to live an intentional and goal-oriented life by exploring what my overall life goals are and the best ways to decompose these goals into manageable smaller goals.
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Blake Adams is a writer, software developer, technical consultant, and financial independence enthusiast living in Oxford, MS.

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