Life is Not a To-Do List
Photo Credit: Tony Case via Compfight
Have you ever looked at your life and thought to yourself “damn I should have accomplished more than this by now.” I know I certainly have. I still do from time to time.
- 2 girlfriends who I never really loved
- A half a dozen jobs I hated
- 2 degrees that I never use
It’s really easy to look at your life and say “is that all?” Of course that’s not all, but when we’re not where want to be with our lives that’s what we focus on. We’re ALWAYS trying to get somewhere other than where we’re at. But if all we’re doing is waiting to arrive at our destination we’ll never learn to enjoy the journey.
Let’s say you hop on a plane to somewhere in Southeast Asia. Well it’s a damn long flight. Would you insist on being miserable the entire flight? Of course not. There are a number of things you could do the make it enjoyable
- Have a drink, or two, or three
- Join the Mile High Club (if that’s your thing)
- Become friends with the person sitting next to you (if they’re the opposite sex, reverse 2 and 3)
My friend AJ Leon says that half of what makes a great story is the ups and downs. Imagine if the story of somebody’s life went like this
- He walked out the door
- Everything went according to plan
- He died
On the tombstone of that guy we could write “HE WAS BORED OUT OF HIS F#$#ING MIND.” There’s a fine line between adventure and adversity. As I’ve said a million times when you feel like you’re on the verge of a breakdown you’re probably around the corner from a breakthrough. The problem is most people never get past the breakdown in order to get to the breakthrough. They let the breakdown define them rather than breakthrough.
Some days I seriously feel like I’m losing my mind. I feel like things are not moving quickly enough and nothing is right. (Usually it’s when I haven’t been surfing for multiple days in a row). But when I get in the water it puts everything back in perspective. Everything just kind of flows. Words, ideas, and insights, just happen with no effort whatsoever.
Why Experiences Trump Accolades and Accomplishment
Many of us rush through life trying to pad our resumes with every possible accomplishment
- Go to school
- Get a good job
- Get married
- Have kids
- Have grandkids
When we start to view those thing solely as accomplishments instead of the wonderful experiences they are, life becomes a never ending to do list with items that we’re trying to cross off. It’s what I’ve realized is the vicious cycle of accomplishment. The result is that we are never truly fulfilled because we always feel like something is missing from our life.
Caught up in the continual desire for accomplishment, we lose our presence. We miss out on today because we’re living for tomorrow. We go into a “when” mindset
- When I get a better job
- When I get married
- When I have kids
- When I get my book published
It infuses every area our lives and we completely lose sight of the fact that presence is the key to peak performance.
- When I go for a wave and my mind is somewhere else, I always wipe out.
- When you’re talking to somebody and not listening, the conversation usually does not end well.
- When you’re driving and your mind isn’t focused you miss exits.
Treating life like a to do list makes it difficult to experience gratitude. We become taskmasters instead of students in the school of life. So how do we stop treating life as a to-do list?
Make a List of Your Experiences Instead of your Accomplishment
Graduated from College (accomplishment)
- Made some amazing friends (experience)
- Held up at gunpoint in a high speed car chase in Mexico (experience)
- Sat at the Cafe Strada talking to my best friend for hours (experience)
Started a blog and grew it (accomplishment)
- Had a reader email me to say my content changed his life (experience)
- Had a reader tell me how grateful they were for the inspiration (experience)
- Met some of the most interesting people I’ve met in my whole life (experience)
Experiences trump the accolades every single time
When we start to view our lives through the lens of experiences as opposed to accomplishment they become richer and fulfilling. You can’t put a price on experiences.