You probably know him as the author of the book Soundtracks. I know him as one of my favorite authors and speakers. In his new book, All It Takes Is a Goal, Jon Acuff shares the 3 step plan to ditch regret and lean into your potential. Part one of the book is all about “The List” and that’s what this post is all about.
The List is really a Best Moments List. It is quite literally a list of the best moment you’ve had. Rather than a list of the best life you can achieve over the next twenty years, Acuff suggests writing a list of the best things that have happened to you in the last 20 years. Look back before looking forward. They can be classic moments like a wedding or trip. They could be unusual like a specific event, or regular routines or things you just appreciate in each day. I did this exercise for about 25 minutes and came up with 90+ things. I’m sure with more time, I can come up with quite a few more. I’ll share a few of mine below for you-
- Marrying Teddy on a glacier in Alaska
- The helicopter flight over Knik Glacier
- Seeing the sled dogs in Denali
- Picking up Remington and bringing him home for the first time
- Hitting 50K views on my blog
- Finishing decorating my office
- When our small group gets together
- Conversations by the campfire
- Friends over for a meal grilled by Teddy
- Visiting Longwood Gardens during any season
- Spending time in an antique shop and finding exactly what I was looking for
- Sunflower field off the side of 283
- Sunset at Horseshoe Bend in Utah
- Sunrise at Mesa Verde in Utah
- Sunrise at Joshua Tree in California In Maine
- Sunrise in Acadia
- Trip to the Catskills over New Year
- When Remington curls up on me and lays his head down
- Bailey when she does her little rodeo clown routine
- My dad visting for a PSU Game
- Solo road trip to Arizona and hiking solo into the Grand Canyon
- Running a half marathon in Montana
- Hiking the Manitou Incline in Colorado solo
- Running along Bayshore while I trained for my half
- Buddy Brew and Bayshore routines while living in Florida
- Finishing the bible in a year
- A new month or season
- Sunrise on a cold morning outside when the sky looks like cotton candy
- Driving scenic roads through Lancaster and York County
- Getting drive in food and picnicking
- Sushi from Mojos, especially the blushing lava roll
- Morning boardwalk walks
- Teddy’s hugs
- A fresh notebook
- An inspiring book
- A clean desk
- Rhythms and routines
- Setting goals and plans for the upcoming year
- An afternoon at middle creek
- A strenuous hike with a beautiful view at the end
- An aesthetic cabin stay
- Hand written mail
- Roadside flowers
- Going to Roots
- A butter pretzel
- A crisp and cold Diet Coke
- A trip to the library
- A fall festival or fair
- Receiving our Chatbook in the mail after a trip
- Progress toward goals
- Morning pages in my chair
- Buying my house on my own
- Local dinner
- Local iced coffee or chai
- Small towns and walking around
- Midwest road trip with my Dad
- A list of ideas for something
- Palo Duro Canyon trip
Acuff shares that he had two surprises after making his list. First, rather than “digging around in a coal mine for mistakes, it invited me to look inside a diamond mind for hope”. He also shared that the list made him grateful. I agree. Making this list made me joyful and reflect on all the incredible experiences I’ve had, as well as what in my day to day I find so much joy in.
After you make your list, go through and count how many of the items on your list fall into each of these categories – Objects, Relationships, Experiences, and Relationships. I did this for my list and here’s what I found.
- 37 Experiences
- 27 Accomplishments
- 20 Relationships
- 12 Objects
For example, many of the travel items like Palo Duro Canyon or a sunrise somewhere meaningful are on my experience list. Accomplishments have been meeting a certain goal like running a half marathon or doing a hard hike. Relationship based items are when I do something with someone like hugs from Teddy. And the objects are items like a fresh notebook or my air pods. In the book, Jon separates them all distinctly into one category, but quite a few of my trips I have done with other people and so I categorized them as both Experience and Relationship.
So go ahead, count yours up when you’re completely done. What conclusions can you make from your list?
Experiences > everything for me. I was just telling a friend last night that this word experience has been buzzing around in my brain lately. I have it written on a list of other words I’m thinking about but this one keeps coming up. And here we are again, with it coming up. I really do prioritize experiences like travel over most other things.
I also notice I appreciate accomplishing things and while it’s not as motivating as an experience, it’s still up there. I really like a sense of accomplishment I have when I take a solo trip, go for a long run, do a hard hike, or something else outside of my comfort zone. Relationships are important to me, but not as much as the others and objects are even less important. I like objects that either help me focus like airpods or a clean desk or have a story like a sign or piece of furniture my dad made.
Since I know that objects are less meaningful than experiences, I can (and do) budget accordingly. I also budget for opportunities to accomplish things, whether that’s reading books, taking a course, or preparing for something that will stretch me like a half marathon. I prioritize my time in this way too.
So if you got this far in the blog, and still haven’t made your own list, go ahead. List out the best moments you’ve had over the last 20 years. Then, reflect. What can you glean from your own list? What is showing up as most motivating for you? What adjustments to your financial plan or your time or conversations could you make to lean into what motivates you?