In my last post, I talked about the reasons why I feel a bucket list is a bad idea. I also promised to offer two alternatives that I feel can bring you closer to creating a meaningful life.
The first of these alternative is what I’m calling The Soul List.
Now, right off, I realize that some of you may react negatively to the word soul.
If so, then feel free to substitute whatever word feels more natural to you. Perhaps heart or spirit is a better fit for you. Or use any other word that describes the core of who you are, your essential self.
What is a Soul List?
This is the first and most obvious question. And since I’m inventing the idea of the soul list, then I get to define it as well!
Here is how I would define a soul list:
A soul list is a list of those things that your soul is dying to express, that your soul needs to express in order to really and truly feel alive.
Now, I’ll admit that there’s nothing magical or perfect about the above definition.
My goal though isn’t to come up with the perfect definition. Rather, I want to make sure you understand what I’m talking about when I used the term soul list. You are absolutely allowed to tweak or modify the definition to fit your needs.
The most important distinction to make is that a soul list comes from the deepest part of yourself whereas a bucket list comes from from your ego.
How Do You Create a Soul List?
Perhaps more important than defining what a soul list is, is knowing how to create such a list.
For those that are interested in pursuing the idea of a soul list, I offer the following instructions.
1. Find a quiet place, a place where you can be alone for at least a couple of hours without any disturbances. A place where you can feel calm and centered and at peace.
2. Get yourself into a quiet space. This may involve meditating for a few minutes or perhaps just closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths. Whatever it takes so that you can let go of your ego and connect to your spirit.
3. Reflect on any of the following questions:
What do you wish for or ache for deep in your soul?
What is your soul longing to express?
What part of yourself have you kept caged up for too long, that is dying to be expressed?
What does your soul want to say to the world?
What does your soul want you to risk doing, even knowing that you might fail?
These are, of course, just sample questions and you can change or modify them as you wish. Or add your own questions.
I would suggest, however, not to use more than 1-3 questions.
4. Write down your answers. What you write down may not end up being your final answer. But it will help you to remember what you came up with and give you the ability to tweak your answers later.
5. Continue to tweak your responses. Over the next few weeks or months, continue to reflect on your answers and make tweaks as needed.
An alternative to the above process is to take one of the questions and reflect on it over a period of days or weeks and see what emerges.
How Do You Use a Soul List?
Now, here’s the thing about a soul list. It’s not going to be as specific as a bucket list.
What you come up with won’t be concrete items like “visit the Galapagos Islands” or “Write a best-selling book.”
Instead your list will contain items that reflect who you want to be and what energy you want to express in the world.
These are long-terms items that you will continue to work on throughout your lifetime.
Your soul list may change over time but it’s unlikely that you will ever cross an item off of your list because you’ve completed it. Instead you may cross an item off of your list because your soul no longer wants or needs it.
All this means that you can’t and shouldn’t use a soul list the same way that you’d use a bucket list.
I would certainly suggest that you post your list somewhere where you can see it easily. And if you want, you can turn your list into an art project. Or use it as the screensaver on your computer.
Most importantly, your soul list can be used as a guide. A guide for how you live your life, a guide for how you make decisions, a guide for where you want to focus your energy, a guide for how you want to treat other people and how you want to treat yourself.
What Does My Soul List Look Like?
Now, if I’m going to suggest that people make a soul list and that such a list has value then I need to be willing to create one of my own. And I need to be willing to share what my soul list looks like.
So here goes:
1. I want to open my heart to the whole world. I want to love others unconditionally, to see them without judgement. I want to view others through the lens of compassion and to see everyone as my brothers and sisters
2. My soul longs to connect with something greater than itself, even if I have no words to express what that might be.
3. My soul longs to connect with other people at a deep level, to break through the superficiality of most conversations, to really connect with others at a heart to heart level.
So that’s my list. At least it’s what my list looks like as I type this post. I expect my list to evolve and change over time.
As I finish this post, I worry that I may not have explained the idea of a soul list as well as I wanted.
When I first came up with the idea a few weeks ago, the ideas were flowing rapidly. But at the time, I was at a dog park, without pen and paper.
A few weeks later, sitting down at the computer to type this out, I`m finding that the ideas aren’t flowing as rapidly.
But I also know this. I am only introducing the idea of a soul list in this post. I can come back later and refine the ideas that I’m presenting today.
And there’s one more thing that I know. I believe 100% that if you create a soul list and use it as a guide for your life that you’ll end up at a deeper level of happiness than if you create and follow a bucket list.
And now I turn it over to you: I’d love your feedback on what I’ve presented here.
What worked for you? What didn’t work? What needs to be explained better?
And most importantly, I’d LOVE it if others actually sat down and created a soul list and then shared it with me! You can share your list in the comments below or you can share it privately by sending me an email through my website.