This morning I read an article about a new book. The author, Noelle Hancock, realized that she had developed a lot of fears and that these fears were holding her back. She decided that she would, for one year, live her life according to Eleanor Roosevelt’s saying “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Apparently, this helped her break through her fears AND get a book deal. Her book, My Year With Eleanor, chronicles her progress through the year along with her discoveries about the remarkable woman, Eleanor Roosevelt.
As I was reading the review, I couldn’t help but think that Noelle has come up with a good idea. I think I would have a hard time finding a year’s worth of activities that scare me, but I definitely see the value in systematically going after your dreams. This young woman had the dream of overcoming her fears and she worked hard to achieve that dream.
All of this made me remember my “List of 50 Things” that I wanted to accomplish before my 50th birthday. I had so much fun checking the items off my list. Once I reached my birthday, though, I left the list behind. I haven’t really thought about that list, and I have not dreamed up a new list to take its place. That list gave me a sense of purpose, a mission. Even if each item was only a small accomplishment, making it happen and checking it off helped me to be aware of my achievements over time. I became much more deliberate with my free time. Since my birthday, I have thought about my dreams and I have even written some of them down, but I have felt stuck. While I was working on my list, I felt as if I was moving forward. Now, without the momentum of working through the items on the list, I have succumbed to Newton’s first law:
A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted upon by an outside force.
The truth is, I liked working on that list. I liked being in motion. It felt good. So, I have come to the conclusion that I need a new list – a new set of goals to give me a little push forward. I’m going to get out my dream book and see if I can break some of my big dreams down into smaller steps. I’m going to turn some of my more manageable dreams into goals. I’m going to make a new list. I’m not sure how many items it will have or what kind of time frame I will set.
In honor of Eleanor Roosevelt and Noelle Hancock, who have provided the outside force that broke the inertia and set me in motion, I am going to include doing some things that scare me on the list. I won’t be doing one thing every day that scares me, but I will be doing SOMETHING. Once I get moving, Newton’s Law claims I will keep moving. I think that’s why I was so filled with joy while I was working on my first list. I was moving in the direction of joy, because I was doing things that filled my life with awareness of grace and beauty. I wonder where my new list will take me.