I make lists.
(I’m a woman, wife, and mother so; I guess list-making—and the foul-mouth inducing list-losing— goes without saying).
I am seldom without pen and paper in the deplorable depths of my purse, and prefer blue ink on college rule to scribble the mundane details of everyday life, as well as the not so mundane details of life-planning and soul-lifting.
Life-planning—that list you make as a step toward actually living your life, but never seem to get around to.
Soul-lifting—exploratory list of your presumable likes and dislikes to discover your passion. (Often occurs while listening to Adele or anyone that headlined at Lilith Fair.) (Also? Wine.)
Last month, Ramit Sethi wrote the article What Top Performers Know about Passion in which he regarded my beloved lists of the soul-searching variety as ‘grandiose, Pointless Passion Pursuits.’
(Note the use of alliteration—the delicious ‘p’ sound captivates and if your list were an idiot (and animate), it might believe it was being complimented.)
“Tell me if this sounds familiar: You sit in your room with a blank sheet of paper, listing off all the things you love and all the things you’re good at. Then, magically, you’re supposed to somehow “see” what you should do with the rest of your life.
How many of us have done this? How many of us were told to do this by experts or career books? Please kill me now.”
Ramit made this claim in the third point top performers know about passion which means I read points one and two, nodded agreeably and determined that I was definitely on my way to top performing status. I read about my pointless, passion pursuing lists in point three twice, hoping to find a hole in his New York Times Bestselling argument, only to discover that I agreed with him.
Lists are sanity savers. They reflect the clutter from our brains through scribbled letters on a page. They allow us to organize, understand, and process the constant spinning of ideas in our minds.
A list without action is a complete time-suck.
Take your grocery list—just because you make one doesn’t mean you’ll be fed. You have to get up, go out, buy and prepare the food. Otherwise, you go hungry or fill your stomach with a mediocre, drive-thru replacement.
Ramit’s emphasis was on the action. My emphasis is on both lists and action—they work together to help you find the thing(s) that truly make your heart holler.
If your likes list includes writing and photography and you’re not sure which is best for you, don’t wallow in thought, don’t mull it over. Borrow a friend’s camera. Take a class, a writing workshop, or attend a seminar on either subject.
Get on twitter, search writers and photographers and, you know—join the conversation. Even if it’s simply to ask questions, the point is to be proactive about your prospective passions.
Put your list to use with action, because it’s only by doing that you’ll know if it was worth it.
What’s on your passion list? What is one thing you can do today to be proactive?