Bucket Lists, Check Lists and Life

Bucket Lists. I don’t like these.

Not for the reasons many may think. I don’t dislike them because they can be considered negative, as if planning for your death. I don’t think there’s fault with making lists, either.

What I have a problem with is how lists have taken on a whole life of their own.

We, as people, like lists. We like to check things off and move along. We have to do lists, grocery lists, gift lists, etc.

Life isn’t a list.

You constantly see 5 steps to do this, 7 tips to be successful at that … but life isn’t a recipe. There’s no guarantee that you can implement or follow through with those steps, and in the end, you’re taking someone else’s word for how YOU can improve YOUR life, work or success.

Life requires thinking and living. Not just checking off a check list.

Going to college doesn’t make you smart. You have to learn in college, probably more than you were tested on. Running a business isn’t just having employees and income, it’s being a leader and being successful. It’s not following a check list and expecting everything to fall into place. That’s not even naive, that’s juvenile.

I blame Stephen Covey for this. His book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” apparently ushered in a stream of people who think they can gain success by memorization and following rote. I don’t know what his intent really was, but I’m guessing it was to make himself financially successful, which he most certainly accomplished.

His books became fodder for cult followers to believe if they did these 7 things they too would be effective. Effective at what though? His idea of what effective or successful is? Do his readers thing his subjects only had those 7 habits?

Even with his book, which is at best only a starting point for self discovery, many of his followers took the easy way and only read the titles, leaving their own limited experiences to guide them on what those blurbs meant.

Someone, a fan of his own interpretation of Stephen Covey’s doctrines, once told me that one of the main tenets of his teachings was to do something and over time (I think he said 15 years) it will pay off. First off, this person did not realize I was familiar with the Stephen Covey books, because, well, this person believed only he lived and experienced life and no one else existed prior to meeting him. Secondly, That’s not necessarily one of the tenets of his teachings. Finally, there are caveats and qualifiers to all things, and this person does not understand that.

Life doesn’t happen to you, you create it, and not by checking things off a list. If you want to follow a list for life, that’s your choice, and you will have a life. How good or bad a life it is is not for anyone else to judge but you.

But, creating a life by the numbers that someone else wrote is once again, like getting a paint-by-number art kit. You will end up with something vaguely recognizable as someone else’s masterpiece, but surely lacking in talent, creativity, individuality, and value.


About Laurissa Doonan

I'm a marketer. I've been a professional marketer for over 25 years, but in reality, I have always been one. Marketing to me is about communicating effectively, regardless of platform, regardless of channel. Marketing is understanding both your objectives and your audience, and finding the right method and message for your customers to reach them where they are. Now I dedicate my efforts to helping very small and small companies pursue their passions and grow their businesses through marketing; providing agency trained expertise without the overhead. www.Charter-Marketing.com www.CharterMarketing.wordpress.com
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