Scrolling through my documents list in my laptop the other day I discovered a list that I had made about five or six years ago. It contained a number of wishes for myself as a person that I believed would somehow make me better or make me more valuable to others. You know the kind of list I’m talking about. The kind of bucket list of what you should have achieved in the next five or ten years depending on how ambitious you are.
Now that those years have come and gone and I’ve entered another age bracket, it seems like the perfect time to re-evaluate where I am in life and to take stock of the things I’ve already done and perhaps make another list for the next five years.
Lists are useful inventions. I wonder when the earliest list was made and who the lucky person was that made the first satisfyingly sharp tick to accompany an item completed. The mere thought of that tick sends shivers of delight down my spine.
Making a list today, it would feature family prominently as well as a few other items that I believe would enrich my life.
A list can bring focus and remind us of who we are and also who we were at a certain point in our lives. Throughout our lives we change so much, whether through the people we meet or the experiences we have and our life lists will reflect this in some way.
My list from five years ago contained a desire to learn French, to do a Master’s degree, to travel more and try to save money. All quite normal and achievable, in my opinion.
I had begun to do a diploma in French in the local university a long time before but I had to drop out because our mother became sick and needed help around the house. I haven’t done any French since then and the desire has now left me. Learning new languages can help the brain in later life, they say, so for this reason alone I could try and continue to practise my language skills at a later time. So maybe I’d keep this on a new list.
Another list item was to do a Master’s degree. And, dear reader, I actually managed to compete this list item. Tick one accomplished. Thinking back now, however, I wonder why I actually wanted to achieve this. It has done little for my career and cost a lot of money. So I would urge caution to anyone seeking to do the same.
Travelling is one of those interesting items that has probably made it on to most lists. It’s a natural part of human life to want to explore and see more of the world. This I have done to some extent. I’ve seen many beautiful parts of the world, from Africa to Australia, and there is so much more to explore. I believe I will always seek to discover the beauty not only in the wider world but that on my doorstep too. All lists should include travel, even if it is close by where you live or simply somewhere you haven’t been before.
One thing missing from my list was an item about family and relationships. At the time I was concerned with work and keeping myself busy, perhaps a legacy of losing a parent; my only parent. Making a list today, it would feature family prominently as well as a few other items that I believe would enrich my life.
There would be a volunteering listing, essentially, to encourage myself to do more for others. I’d definitely list spending more time with family and making time for friends. My next list will include working to reduce stress and accepting things for the way they are. This will be my 40-year-old self’s list. In five years’ time who knows what will be. I only hope I’m still around to find out.
— Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland