The Impossible List is NOT a Bucket List.
Lots of people have a bucket list. They’re static things made up at one point in time that most people don’t end up actually incorporating into their lives and discard when things get tough.
The impossible list is different. It’s fluid, updating status of what’s coming, what’s next and where you’ve come from. It’s always changing, always updating and always evolving. The impossible list isn’t just a piece of paper, it’s a commentary to yourself on how you’re living.
I don’t have a problem with bucket lists. They’re probably better than nothing, but the worst part about a bucket list isn’t that it’s just a bucket list, but that it’s a just list. It’s a set of things waiting for you to check off. If you don’t get to them, you fail.
That’s a really bad approach.
The impossible list is different.
It might be a list, but the impossible list is a list that helps give narrative to your story. It gives purpose to your actions and it gives context to your journey.
I’ve said before, that the best way to write something that matters is to first do something that matters, and then write about it. Not the other way around.
The impossible list is a good barometer for that.
If you’re getting bored with your life, it might be because it’s because you just have a list of things to do someday, instead of a list of things that you’re actively living out day to day in an attempt to live a life worth writing about.
It’s a fine line to walk so here’s a quick rundown of the differences between a bucket list and the impossible list.
How the impossible list is different from a bucket list.
A bucket list is static, the impossible list evolves.
A bucket list is a set list of things you want to do. It never changes…mostly because you never do anything. The impossible list is different. It’s changing, not only because you’re busy actually doing things, but because you’re busy adding things as well.
A bucket list gets smaller, the impossible list gets bigger.
A bucket list is a set of things you check off and hopefully you get to them all before you die. Slowly,but surely, if you’re dedicated you’ll eventually cross everything off your list. The impossible list is different. The impossible list expands what you’re capable of doing. You should be constantly checking things off the list, but you should be adding items as well. With the impossible list, your limits expand, your horizons get bigger, your dreams become larger. You constantly check things off your list, and you realize that what’s literally impossible to you now is completely different than what you thought was impossible even just 3, 6, 12 months ago.
A bucket list is focused what you do before you die, the impossible list is focused on how you live.
Hopefully you get to everything on your bucket list before you die. Hopefully. If not, too bad. The impossible list isn’t as concerned with doing everything on the list, but doing some of the things on the list, exploring the limits of what you think you can do, and going even further. When you have an impossible list, doing something is much more important than doing everything.
A bucket list revoles around you, the impossible list is focused on others.
A bucket list is focused on making your life as great as possible. The impossible list is focused on telling as good of a story as possible. Sure that involves doing some great things to enrich your own life, but it also involves actively helping and enriching the lives of others as much as possible, in order to help them tell a good story of their own.
A bucket list is focused on the event, the impossible list is focused on the journey
Most bucket lists serve as a highlight reel of life – a series of unrelated exciting accomplishments between which most of the time people are bored. The impossible list is a journey. The impossible list is a series of events, each building on each other in order to create a great story. Each list has a meaning and a purpose and the list expands and changes in order to tell a story of how you’ve grown, what you’ve overcome and how you’ve gotten to where you are from where you’re from. The check marks designate things accomplished, but the purpose is not to get to simply achieve specific accomplishments but to change in the process that occurs between those those events.
A bucket list has accomplishments, the impossible list has meaning.
A bucket list is focused on doing things. The impossible list is focused on doing things with meaning. Doings things over and over that you think other people will care about or doing what other people find impressive is not the point. The purpose is to stretch yourself to do things you never thought possible, regardless of other people’s opinions on the topic.
A bucket list is made up of someday dreams, the impossible list requires action today.
A bucket list is stuff people hope to do someday. “Maybe, one day when I get lots of money, I’ll do ‘X'”. The impossible list takes action today. It requires you sit your butt down, and go get stuff done. It’s not all pie in the sky and it won’t just happen if you think about it hard enough. It takes work and you have to actually do something in order to get there.
A bucket list expires, the impossible list aspires
There’s a countdown for the bucket list out there. The time ends when you die. If you didn’t get to everything, too bad. You lose. Failure. The impossible list is different. It’s focused on challenging you to question what’s impossible right now, and pushing you to bigger and better things rather than being comfortable with the status quo. It forces you to constantly expand the sphere of what you believe is possible right now. A bucket list expires when you die. The impossible list is about what you’re aspiring to do right now…because that’s the only time you really have.
Bucket List or Impossible List? What will you choose?
If this made you think, do me a favor and share it with someone in your circle of influence.
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Special thanks to Tim Dyer for helping me articulate a few of these thoughts.