Thoughts & Observations

Seeking Checked Boxes


When we set out to make a list of life goals, what are we really looking for?

Are we looking to collect checked boxes, gathering them and storing them as proof that we’ve accomplished something? That we are valuable?

Do we think that each of the checked boxes holds within it the opportunity to bring us closer to happiness?

For some people, that checked box itself or that ongoing search for happiness might be the sole reasons for crafting bucket lists and long lists of life goals, but I think for many people there is something deeper, something not quite as simple as checking off the final box standing in the way of happiness.

I think that what we are often seeking is a feeling. We want to know what it feels like to stand on the stage and give a talk at TED, or we want to know what it feels like train hard for a race and finally cross the finish line. We want to know what it feels like to have our words get published and show up on a bookstore shelf, or we want to know what it feels like to fall deeply in love.

We crave experiences because experiences lead to feelings – feelings of flow, of love, of joy, of wonder, of triumph.

I used to be against creating lists of life goals because to me they felt too oriented towards accomplishment, towards the checked boxes.

I’ve changed my mind though, as long as it involves a different type of list: a list of desired life experiences, of feelings. A list that is oriented toward experiencing the full realm of emotions that the human spirit has to offer.