The best thing any of us can do is pass our knowledge on and try to leave the world a better place than we found it in.
I’ve always appreciated the idea of a bucket list, except for one thing: it’s motivated by death! So I tend to gather long-held goals and new-found dreams as a life list, or a YesList, a collection of targets, experiences and lessons that band together as a motivation to not sit still, rather than hustling a last-minute dash towards making something of our limited time left.
This is a chance to get rid of that stumbling attitude we hear all around: “I wish I could do that,” “I’ll never have that chance.” Or the gorgeously passive aggressive “you’re so lucky!”
All of these are really sad sentiments, and none apply in reality.
We make our own luck, we have the chance in time to do whatever we want, and we’re all, right now, in a position to never have to say those words “I wish” ever again.
YesLists aren’t just about doing things and going places, they’re at the heart of who we want to be. We inspire through our actions and while our stories make us more interesting, it’s important to remember that unless you decide to make your YesList absolutely central to your identity, the list itself isn’t a story. Instead, it’s a great way to fill those moments of uncertainty or boredom and keep you focussed on learning and growing.
Creating a list is a commitment to action, developing positive habits and making life memorable. Not sure what to do with your time? When you have a list it’s easy, just scour through all these things you’ve always wanted to do and start working towards the one that excites you most.
How to create a YesList?
This bit is fun. Open your mind and be free with your dream chasing, this is a chance to set yourself targets that you didn’t even think were possible before. There are no limits here, just ideas. Be novel! Imagine who you want to be in five years time and the things that by then you’ll be able to talk about. Then get writing!
Later on we’re going to look at some ways that other people can help you do the things you’re not yet sure how to do yourself, but in the meantime it’s important to remember that this is YOUR list, nobody else’s.
It’s not a race or a competition and there’s absolutely no timeline. The only commitment you make when creating a YesList is that at all times you’re moving, however slowly, towards ticking off another item. There are some days when we feel totally unmotivated and can’t be bothered with anything - but I promise you, a few moments with this list will get you thinking.
Start by getting yourself a piece of paper, or open up a word document or spreadsheet if you’re a digital type, and write 1, 2, 3 and so on down the left side of the page. Personally, I have my YesList on the Notes app of my phone, which syncs with my other devices - so if I ever want to check out my list or make a change or addition, I can do it anywhere.
A good YesList has at least 50 challenges in there. Frankly, the more the better so feel free to aim higher, say, 100. Within the list there should be different categories:
Travel: Geographically, where would you like to go? Is there someone you’d like to visit on the other side of the world?
Physical: This might be aiming for a PB, or taking up a new sport, or planning an endurance adventure. And bingo, you get and stay fit at the same time as ticking off another win.
Kindness: Whether it’s volunteering in your local neighbourhood, raising money for charity or giving a friend a hand with their latest house move, let your list push you towards making a difference.
Psychological: Got a fear that you’d like to overcome? Heights, public speaking, holding a spider? Here’s your chance to be less scared of life in general.
Habit: Commit to reading a certain amount of books in a year, learning a new skill each month or spending a certain number of nights wild camping. Developing just one habit improves your discipline in other areas of life.
Creative: There’s something special about making something. How’s your photography or film making? Maybe you want to learn how to draw or build furniture? Or even a tiny house?!
Health: Finally, maybe this is your time to give up sugar in coffee, or cut down on your meat intake? Or maybe you just need to commit to half an hour of exercise each day, hit those 10,000 steps, or down-size your meal portions.
Financial: Why not set yourself a savings target? Even £1 a day will give you enough for a weekend getaway by the end of the year.
Time: There will be some things you’d like to achieve which you simply can’t do this month or even this year. This is ok, but maybe ensure that you have enough short-term items open your list to keep focus.
You can choose as many or as few items within each category as you like but only choose items that you can qualify (ie. swim regularly is a hard one to tick off, because regularly is pretty ambiguous). Also make sure you have control over achieving your goals (ie. don’t leave things completely in the hands of fate or luck), with a little hard graft and imagination you’ll be amazed at how much easier life seems with a can-do attitude.
And here’s a tip. If you’re making a list of 100 items, maybe keep five spaces free. No doubt you’ll find something to fill them with soon.