The List & Why You Should Make One, Too

A week ago, I made reference to my “thirty by thirty” list, that list of thirty items I want to accomplish before I turn thirty, when I talked about my book-reading goal for the year. I was about to mention that ominous list again in a post and realized I better explain myself a little bit first.

Here’s the thing. I have never been a particular fan of making resolutions, at New Years or any other time. You might remember back in January when I contrasted making resolutions with being children of God. I wrote, “Resolution-making is often individualistic and all about making ourselves into the people we personally think we should be,” and I wasn’t too nice about it.

I have also never been a fan of making goals. In fact, during my first-year evaluation at my first “real” adult job, I wrote this as my five-year goal: Write the next great American novel.

My boss suggested that it might not be relevant to the workplace.

I was trying to have a sense of humor. Sheesh.

Over the last few months, I kept seeing these lists on other blogs: fifteen things by the time I’m thirty, forty recipes to try by the time I’m forty, that sort of thing. So I started making a list in my mind of all the things I’d put on a list if I were the kind of person to make such a list. Which I’m not.


It was when I started jotting notes down, brainstorming what my 30 x 30 might look like, that I realized something.

This list-making is a good idea.

It’s not, however, a good idea because it makes us want to be our best selves–even that term, “best self,” is deceiving. We tend to write things down on January 1 related to our looks, to our health, to our whims. (And, since this is a post of confession, you might be able to tell that the first thing that spilled onto my brainstorming list was “Run a 5k in less than 30 minutes or run 5 miles.” This is not equivalent to the full life God has called me to live, now is it?)

No, this list-making is a good idea because it forces us to catalog and really pay attention to the things we could be–and should be–doing and aren’t.

As I made my list, I talked it over with some folks, one of them being J. I began noticing that this list included lots of crazy and impractical things (being able to do a cartwheel? anyone?) and some other things that are just plain practical (making pillows for our daybed, finishing particular house projects that have been driving me crazy). But, more importantly, it also included lots of community-oriented goals. One of those things, for example, was “host a neighborhood picnic” (more on this soon).

These goals are things that I should be doing. Things I know I’ve been called to do, since I’m the kind of person that believes in people being called to do things. Volunteering with organizations I’m committed to. Stepping outside of my comfort zone with community and sacrifice. Oh, and writing. Why am I not writing on a regular basis?

These are important things that I am not doing, but I pretend that I am. How can this be?

So, to my point.

Much of my list will have no impact on life at Texas Schmexas, but some of it will.

And it’s those kinds of things–seeking out community, taking some time to wonder about what my goals for community should be but aren’t yet, crafting a life that is more conducive to community–that I encourage you to spend some time thinking about, too.

So go ahead. Make a list. Try to make at least half of them not about you, your ideal self, or that individual I was so quick to criticize back in January.

Instead, ask yourself what it would mean for you to experience community.

Real community.

And then start doing it.


3 comments on “The List & Why You Should Make One, Too

  1. I like this idea! I’m not a very goal oriented person either. In fact, I rebel at the idea of setting goals in the work place. My goal? To keep my job.

    I think I might have to do 40 by 40. I have 7 years. YIKES! How did I get so old?

  2. Patti Miller says:

    This is not fair. I am way past my 30th birthday so my list will have to be considerably longer – 50×50. But my cartwheel is awesome. Just thought you should know. 🙂

  3. elizabeth says:

    Oh dear. I never said that the list HAD to be as long as the number of years you’re alive! Goodness!

    But, Susie, if you go that route, you’ve got plenty of time. As long as you average 5 or 6 a year, you’re golden!

    And Patti, I’d love to see your cartwheel. I looked back over my list, and apparently what I wrote down was “headstand,” though I find them both to be equally impossible.

    Thanks for stopping in!

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