I am celebrating a birthday this week. Actually it will be my final year in my 30s, and I have decided to continue a tradition I started a while back—making lists. Because this is my last year as a 30-something and I am eagerly looking forward to the surprises and challenges that my future decades will hopefully bring, I have decided to make a list of 39 things I’d like to do while 39. Ultimately, I will be making a list of the 40 things I’d like to do in my 40s (I’m taking any and all suggestions), but for now, I have decided to begin thinking of the areas in my life that I would like to focus on a bit more.
All of the self-help, time management and “success” books I have read all stress the importance of making lists to assist one in achieving goals, both minor and major. Paula Rizzo, author of “Listful Thinking: Using Lists To Be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed,” asserts, “Writing something down really solidifies the goal and makes it more attainable…Not only do you become more motivated but you are reminded of your goal and become more accountable, too.”
The areas in my life that I want to be sure to focus on in the next year are health, marriage, family, friends, financial literacy, career, recreation and travel. I am setting realistic goals on my “39 things to do while 39” list so as not to get discouraged. I’ll likely try to solicit some other friends to create a list as well to help us stay motivated and accountable to one another.
So here are some of the items of my list: Attend a yoga class at least once per month, write a handwritten note to an old friend, go on a vacation with my mother, read at least three novels, consolidate my retirement funds, drink less coffee and outline my new book project. I have many more items to add to the list, but these few are realistic start. Hopefully for those of you who are beginning a new project or new phase in your life, you will find the utility of making realistic lists to help you begin working on a goal, track your progress and ultimately chronicle steps along your journey.
Possibly one of the most important aspects of Rizzo’s philosophy surrounding list-making is her argument about seeking positive energy and results in your life. She states, “I’m a big believer in what you put out into the universe will come back to you. Simply writing something down will get it going in ways that are out of your control.” Having more trust that the universe is conspiring in my favor will definitely be added to my list.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream” and the host of The Aftermath on Ozy.com. You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.