The Life Fulfilling “Things to Do Before I Die” List

travel-TMOliver Wendell Holmes said, “Cemeteries are filled with people who died with their music still in them.” What is your music? What have you dreamed of doing – some day? How can you possibly consider fulfilling your dreams when you have a family to support?

Why is it that it takes a life threatening event or major loss to get most of us thinking about how short life is and ask why we haven’t even begun to fulfill our dreams and passions?

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, that’s when I began to consider those things that were important to me. Inspired by an article I read in a magazine, I made a list of things I wanted to do before I died.

At first I was stuck, so I made a list of all things I had already done (like learn to drive a stick shift, give a speech in front of a live audience, sing in front of a live audience) and I checked them off the list. I then thought about what else I wanted to do. I added things like get my college degree, travel to Alaska, Montana, and Italy. Write a book.

I looked at my list and thought, how can I take baby steps towards these goals to make them happen. I began by making the decision to stay in school. (I started three months before my first cancer diagnosis). It took me seven years, but I finally graduated with a B.A. in Communications (at age 50) in 2003.  I took another baby step when I updated my passport. Shortly after that, I was searching the web for air fares to Italy for my daughter and me. We got a great price, bought a train pass (Eurail) and traveled throughout Italy for three weeks and ended up in Spain. We started in Rome, went to Florence, Pisa, Naples, Venice and Milano. It was a wonderful trip. I’ve been to Alaska and Montana with my husband. He applied for contract work in both states and I went with him when he had his interviews. I wrote a book (it started as a “booklet” but over time and with the help of my writing professor at Marylhurst University, it became a book.  Then I published it. It’s titled, “The Hat That Saved My Life,” and is my story about surviving breast cancer. It was published in August of 2004 by Classic Day Publishing in Seattle, WA. (I sold out my first printing by December of 2006 and released my second edition in January 2007)

There are two VERY important things to know about this type of list.  First, share it with someone you trust.  When my family finally heard about my list, things began to happen that hadn’t yet.  My daughter learned about my desire to go to Italy.  She wanted to go with me.  I wanted to sing lead with a band so my husband put a band together so I could sing at my college graduation party.  Second, It’s important to add new things as you cross things off. I have completed several things on my list and have added many others. Some of them are quite huge. I’m still waiting for Ellen to call me and I really want to sing with Kenny Loggins.

Start a list of all those things you always wanted to do “someday.” Don’t wait for life to throw you a curve ball. Look for baby steps to start leading the life you want to live. Don’t go to your grave with the music still in you. Sing now!

For more information on this topic, please consider:

Have you Reached Your Full Potential? by Martin Downs, a freelance writer from New York. It’s well written and may give you some insight into finding out what IS stopping you from reaching your full potential.

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