Why this is the year for making a life list (and how to do it)

Forget putting things on hold with a bucket list. This year, create yourself a life list and start kicking goals sooner.

When Kate Christie reached her early 50s, life took some unexpected turns. 

While tough at the time, those surprises led Kate to look at how she was living her life and to work out what really mattered. 

The Melbourne-based time management expert was putting too much of her life on hold. 

Kate tore up her bucket list of things she planned to do much later and created a “life list’’ instead. 

“My kids were older; I’d worked hard; I’d juggled and hustled; I’d tried to be the best wife, mother, friend, sister and employee; and I was wondering what came next,” Kate says.

“Then my ex-husband and the father of my three children was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 11 months later at 54. 

“He had regrets about what he hadn’t done and what he’d put off experiencing. 

“We assume we have all the time in the world, but my ex-husband’s parting gift was to turn the expression ‘life’s too short’ into a mantra that now directs my life.”

Life list vs bucket list

At a time of year when we think about making changes and resolutions, Kate recommends making a life list instead.

“Your life list lets you choose how you live life from today – it’s about living life intentionally and not waiting for a brutal, life-changing event to start prioritising what is most important to you,” Kate, author of The Life List, explains.

While a bucket list often focuses on travel and adventure, the life list covers seven areas: 

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Wealth
  • Adventure
  • Growth
  • Giving
  • Relationships
  • Lifestyle and environment

3 types of life list goals

A life list also features Go Big Goals, Go Small Goals and Go Now Goals. 

As the name suggests, Go Big Goals can take months or even years to plan.

“They require a lot of moving parts and there’s a lot of excitement in the journey towards achieving them,” Kate says. 

“One of mine was to spend seven weeks living and working in Bali.”

As you work towards your Go Big Goals, set smaller goals and Go Now Goals, which are about spontaneity and saying yes. 

The life list focuses on doing things now and not hitting pause, and your goals can touch on any of the seven important areas.

“Go Small Goals fill your cup and don’t have to be hard,” Kate says.

She suggests setting three of these cup-filling goals each month.

“One could be telling your kids you love them every day, or going for a walk,” Kate says.

How to create your life list

Kate says research has found we have about 6000 thoughts a day floating around in our head, so it’s difficult for goals to get airtime. 

To help you create your life list, here are Kate’s recommendations:

  1. Make time to sit down and reflect: Celebrate and be conscious of the life you’ve lived – every person has a backstory, but that doesn’t have to define who you are moving forward. 
  2. Think about what you value most: For example, when you are with your best friends, what do you love talking about?
    And, if you were sick, what would you get out of bed for? List these things. 
  3. Think about the person in your life you most admire: If they paid you a compliment, what would you want them to say? 

The themes that come up will be the basis of your goals.

  1. Consider the three types of life list goals: Under your Go Big, Go Small and Go Now Goals, write one or two experiences, changes or habitsinitially, aim for two small goals and one spontaneous Go Now Goal a month.
  2. Keep your life list flexible: As you achieve goals, add new ones; and remember, some goals can be removed. 

“Remember, there is no failure; but once you make a start on your list, it’s motivating and will change your life,” Kate says.

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Written by Sarah Marinos.