Why I Ripped Up My List of Goals

Originally published on August 18, 2014 on Polkadot-Bow.

First, why I created my list of goals.

I wanted to go on an adventure. In my eighth grade French class, we had “bell-ringers” where we wrote down answers to the questions at the start of class. On Fridays, the question was usually, What are you going to do this weekend? I would write, Je vais faire une aventure. I imagined going on a hike, or prancing through meadows, or climbing trees. Becoming the outdoorsy, nature type that I always wanted to be. Almost two years later, that hasn’t happened.

Not only did I want to be outdoorsy adventurous, I wanted to be a homemaker/ fabric/ crafty type of person who wears handmade aprons and skirts and carries around knitting needles. Yeah. That hasn’t happened, either. I mean, I’m learning to sew, but it’s still not happening. After years of reading craft blogs, I realized that I’m not really a crafter. What I want to do is be creative. Take on those challenges.

I also went through a phase where I wanted to be a polyglot expat nomad traveler person. I’d meet new people, become best friends with someone from another country, walk all over the place, and learn how to pack light. I’d explore cultures and experience all kinds of new things.

And then I wanted to become minimalist. I actually still do. Hey. Maybe that will happen.

But I built my goals list around who I wanted to be, even while I was pulling away from those ideas. I still intend to do a lot of the things on my goals list:

Wear a tie with suspenders
Dress like Stargirl
Climb a tree
Watch the sun rise

But there are things that I’m not so sure of:

Learn to knit (well. I can…make a rag)
Live in another country for at least three months
Be able to do the splits again (is that still possible? I could do it when I was seven, but then I stopped stretching)
Win a debate

I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to do those things. I would be happy to do them, but I also know that I can’t do everything. And what if I’m meant to do something different? I think when I wrote the goals list, these were things that I wanted for myself, simply to feel accomplished, or feel like I’ve… experienced something. I don’t need a list of goals for that.

I believe that God has something in mind for me. And if I go after these things that I came up with, I’m running away with my own idea of life, not paying attention to what God wants for me. He has a picture, and if the picture doesn’t include knitting like awesome or being persuasive for things I don’t believe in, then that’s fine. Because I don’t know what’s best.

Now, when I created my list of goals, I made sure that they would be things that I can choose to do, if I work hard enough. I’ve seen other people’s bucket lists, and I’ve seen things like “fall in love” or whatever, things that you can’t control. And I tried to choose things that I thought would be good, like:

Become an abolitionist
Shave my head for a good cause
Thank a teacher
Sit with a new group of people at lunch one day

I don’t know if that’s what I’m meant to do. I mean, I believe that slavery is bad, and want to do what I can to help stop it. But is that the area I’m meant to work in? And the shaving my head thing, I’m not specifically going to avoid doing it, but I think that putting it on the list has made it more of a, do it just to do it type of thing. The third and fourth above, I feel like those should be things that I would do anyway, not as one-time events, but as a lifestyle.

So even though I’m planning to do most of the things on the list, I ripped up my goals because I wrote them down like I could plan out my idealized life. Even though I still intend to do most of the things, I felt like the paper was holding me back. They were these things I felt I had to do, if only to check things off.


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