The goal was JOY.
I think when people hear something is “hard”, they assume unpleasant. It’s very understandable to me how my list may be confusing. How is it that someone who was just crawling out a deep hole of depression would want to subject themselves to hard things on purpose? Isn’t life hard enough?
I’ll start by telling you that everything on my list, despite how difficult it may have seemed, is something that I really, really wanted to do. Yes, even go to the dentist. Over the past year I’ve talked a lot about how the list has helped remind me how strong and capable I am. I made the list to prove to Depression’s lies that I could still fight for what I wanted. But on a broader level, I had two sets of goals with my list:
- Feel better
- Find my way back to joy
I believe that the hardest things in life are the ones that happen to us and around us, that we have no control over. Doing my list by choice has not only helped me feel better physically and create joy in dark spaces, but more importantly it’s shown me where a single ounce of courage can lead and reminded me that I really can do hard things. Not every day is full of light and happiness, but I feel much more confident than I did a year ago, to face whatever life throws my way. For that, I’ll always be grateful.
So, how did I build my list? I started asking myself some important questions.
- What are things that I really want to do but struggle to believe I’m capable of doing?
- What are things I’ve been avoiding because of anxiety or fear of failure, that could help me feel better?
- What are things I want to do but feel like I don’t deserve to experience them?
- What are some small things I can accomplish that may help me feel like a larger goal is attainable?
- What are things I’ve failed at before that I don’t want to give up on?
I wanted to fill my list with things that I could do or work towards doing, instead of results of things I do or don’t do. That means weight loss didn’t fit my initiatives for the year. Weight loss, increased strength, happiness, better sleep, decreased anxiety, confidence, deeper relationships, and self-discovery were all side-effects from working on my list. But they weren’t on my list for a very important reason.
At the beginning of my journey, how could I sit down with a list that said, “Lose weight, be happy, sleep more, be less anxious, etc.” and feel any sense of accomplishment or joy when I was feeling bad in my own body, depressed, struggling with insomnia, and literally worrying about everything and everyone. Goals like that feel unattainable because there is only so much we can control. And lots of little, tiny variables that work together to achieve those feelings or results. So, I simplified my approach to goals and instead focused on things I could do, knowing that if I could convince myself I was capable of doing them, the journey itself would help me feel better all around.
I mixed my list with hard, harder, and hardest “things” because it was very important to me that I could accomplish things on my list and gain the confidence to do the harder things. I am the queen of putting things on a to-do list that I’ve already done, and if I could go back in time – I’d certainly consider it. Haha! The list was never intended to feel like pressure. I built it to encourage me, push me, grow me, and remind me who I am and want to be.
It’s clear to see that this list is personal to me and my own personal goals in life. Not everyone wants to make sourdough bread or have a farm or run a race. But feel free to borrow from my list to start your own -if it’s your style or desire. More than anything, I hope you remember that you are strong, capable, and worthy of the life you want to lead.
To see more specifics on how I made my list, and what I was thinking, watch this video.