Your Life Isn’t A Checklist


Every single day there are new lists made and disseminated into the universe. There are lists of things we should know, lists of things we should do, lists of things we shouldn’t know and should never do. Hell, I have written some lists myself. The truth is that not one of us has all the answers. Sometimes I feel like the older I get the less I actually do know. The way I view the world is constantly evolving and changing. The way I view myself is constantly evolving and changing.

A year ago I would have thought I would be married this time a year or two from now. I would maybe even be contemplating kids in three years, buying a house on a hill with a farmer’s porch and a German shepherd. While I am still certainly drawn to such ideas (and partial to German Shepherd’s) I can honestly say I have no idea where I will be a year or two or even three from now, and that’s okay.

Maybe some people should read the lists of “25 things to do before you turn 25” and hey, if that speaks to you, run with it. For me, as much as I love me a good list, my life doesn’t boil down to that. Mostly, because I’m still figuring out what the Hell I really want to do and accomplish. Not all of my goals and aspirations are tangible items to be checked off as I go. And if the last 23 years of my life are any indication of how the rest of it will be, I likely wouldn’t do anything on any list in the order in which it was intended.

What terrifies me most in life is the fact that the clock is always ticking. Each day passes and you’re getting older. People around you are moving on, moving forward, moving up. We all seem to be in this giant race to get ahead, to hit the next milestone, to accomplish the next task…for what purpose? We rush to get the “best job”, to get married, have kids, but why? There is nothing wrong with taking the low paying job first just because you love it. It is nothing to be scoffed at to date someone for a significant amount of time before you get married. And crazy talk; it is OK to get married and enjoy being “just the two of us” for a couple years before you pop out three kids and PTA becomes a part of your vocabulary.

Certainly aspiring for a family and a good job is wonderful (and undoubtedly in today’s society anticipated), but where is the fire? Are we all just so consumed with the idea of what life “should” be at a certain point in life? Are we so enamored by these mental checklists of what is expected and how we measure success that we need to get there as soon as humanly possible?

The beauty of life to me is in the moments. It is those rare times you experience that you are completely present in what you are doing. It is putting your phone down. It is ignoring your voicemails (and the red Facebook notification taunting you). It is not thinking about everything else you have to do, but actually enjoying whatever it is you are currently doing that very second. It is disregarding the “biological” clock, and the mental planning, and looming pressure to “settle down”.

It is so hard today to enjoy the NOW, because we are hardwired to keep thinking about what comes next. Ideally we could all let go of our To-Do lists, our checklists, and our idea of what is expected of us. It is unreasonable to stop planning and looking to the future all together, but you can make a conscious effort to not let that be all you think about. Let yourself live in today, and not focus on the things that you think you should be accomplishing by a certain date, age, or time.

Your success and happiness should never be dictated by what someone else thinks it should be. In a perfect world, we would all take a deep breath, look around, and just be grateful for this moment, because truly that is all we are promised.

featured image – Flickr / SodanieChea