What Do You Want?

by Andy Wood on July 22, 2009

in Exploring the Possibilities, Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Increase

goalsI’m a list maker.  You have your quirks; that’s mine.  Not so much the “to-do” variety – that would make me look more organized than I really am.  My lists are the more thoughtful type.  Let me tell you where it all started.

A few years ago I was reading a book about getting out of debt.  Somewhere in the middle of it, the author, Jerrold Mundis, inserted a simple little chapter on goals.  He said that while we were in the process of becoming debt-free, it would he helpful to remember why that was important to us in the first place.  So he suggested setting goals.

Okay, now!  You’re talkin’ my language!  I love goals.  I’ve read extensively on goal setting, achievement, success, and vision.  The gleam in my eye began to shine in eager anticipation.

Make a list, he said.

That’s it?

That was it.

Actually, he suggested three.

Take three pieces of paper.  At the top of one, write, “100 Things I’d Like to Do.”  Atop the second, write, “100 Things I’d Like to Be.”  On the third, write, “100 Things I’d Like to Have.”  Then make your lists.  You may not be able to think of a hundred things in each category.  No problem, he said.  List what you can.

I was intrigued.  I’d never seen anything goal-related expressed that simply.  So I took him up on his idea.  I got my three pieces of paper and began to list.  I listed both immediate and lifetime, epitaph-type goals.  And I went to town.

May I just say, he was right?  It isn’t as easy to think of 100 things as one might imagine.  I also learned that it’s much easier to list things I wanted to have than it was to list things I wanted to be.

Over the course of a couple of months, I spent hours on it, thoroughly enjoying every minute.  I enjoyed thinking, dreaming, reflecting.  I enjoyed being whimsical with some, deadly serious with others.  I enjoyed putting “the respect of my children” on the same have list as “a new putter.”  I made no value judgments on the list until later.  I just wrote.

I learned a lot about myself from my lists.  I rediscovered what my values were, for better or worse.  I learned how important personal freedom, intellectual growth, and making a difference in others were to me.  I learned how contradictory some of my priorities can be.

I also learned the power of simply listing what I want.  Some things began to happen simply because I’d written them down.  Others required a sequence of steps, or an enormous amount of discipline.  I’ve experienced the fulfillment of some and said, “So what, now what”?  Others have given priceless lifelong memories.  Many, many of the things I listed have yet to be realized.

Over time, the number of my lists has grown.  They include things like

  • people from my past I’d like to reconnect with (thank you, Facebook!)
  • people I’d like to meet
  • people I admire
  • people who inspire me to write
  • cool things I’ve heard people pray
  • clichés
  • turning point life experiences (listed on this blog as “Turning Point Stories”)

And true to my Baptist roots (who else but the Baptists would think of having a Committee on Committees?), I even have a “list of lists.”

So how about you?  What do you want?  More money?  Not very spiritual, but it beats the alternative.  More love?  More of a sense of connection with certain people?  A second chance to visit the site of your honeymoon, to play that special golf course, to float the Colorado River?

What about the intangibles?  How about the respect of your children, or to be a positive spiritual influence on someone in particular?  What about the restoration of a severed relationship?  All those and more are on my lists.  Why not make some lists of your own?

Ivy July 22, 2009 at 6:59 am

Hi Andy,

Much as list making has helped you, the reflective and group times at CPE have helped me. I’ve had to re-tell my story, from my family of origin till now and explore thoughts and emotions like never before, in the context of being a retirement home chaplain. It’s been hard, but good.

Blessings and gotta love FB.

Ivys last blog post..Walking and Processing

Andy Wood July 22, 2009 at 8:05 am


You’re absolutely right. And for what it’s worth, if all I had done was make lists, I would have found little value in them. But making them has offered me two amazing values:

1. It has forced me to clarify what I am thinking and wanting.
2. It has given me the opportunity to go back and ask more thought-provoking questions, by reviewing, probing, analyzing. Interesting that it has gotten me to a similar place that storytelling probably would have – but just used a different point of entry.

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