New Mills & Boon author Eva Woods on why making life lists can change your world!
The fun behind list making (in list format!)
I’m a life-long list maker. I recently found a list I started at the age of nine, which features such entries as ‘go to Hawaii’, ‘write a book’, and ‘kiss with James’ (the boy I had a crush on at primary school). So far, I’ve only achieved one of those things. As an adult I keep dozens of lists, from ‘where I’d like to travel’ to ‘hobbies I’d like to try’ to ‘books I want to write’. I have daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly to-do lists.
What’s the attraction of lists? Why do so many of us keep ‘bucket’ or life lists? For me it’s about a fear of missing out. I feel I spent too much of my life being afraid to try new things, so now I’m older and more confident I don’t want to miss out on anything. I want to cram in as much as possible. I think many people have this feeling of wanting to live as much as possible. But we can’t do everything at once, so adding it to a list is a bit of a relief. We haven’t forgotten we’d like to bungee jump or learn to fire pots, we’ll just get to it next year. Or the year after. So, to put it in list form, one of the advantages of a list is:
1. It keeps track of your goals and clarifies what you actually want out of life, and can help you prioritise what’s important to you.
2. It also can encourage you to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, try new things.
3. It also stops you getting overwhelmed. When I was struggling to make a huge decision a while back, a friend recommended I get a notebook and write down every thought I had, for and against. I ended up with a huge list of pros and cons, and even ‘lists of things that are wrong’, ‘lists of how I want my life to be’, and so on. It helped me make the decision, and change my life.
4. There’s also evidence that writing lists actually helps your brain function better. Studies show list-making improves focus, clears the mind, and uses parts of the brain we don’t normally tap into. So if you write down all your thoughts, goals, and even your worries (as I have been known to do!), you might free yourself up to actually do something about them.
5. Finally, I think we like lists because we all enjoy the idea of completion. It’s the same reason people collect beermats and boxsets. Ticking things off a list is very satisfying, and can give you a sense of control on a crazy world. But a word of warning – don’t get so hung up on the list that you forget to enjoy the life in between big list-worthy moments. And remember that everyone’s list is personal. If you’d rather rip off your toenails than run a marathon or sky-dive, then that’s just fine.
Read Eva’s hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy The Thirty List now!