When I was sixteen, I picked up a book that changed my life. It was called Put Your Heart on Paper. The premise of the book was how putting your heart on paper could help you be a better writer.
I liked it because I was sixteen and into emotional pontification, and anyone in that mindset is going to be a glutton for more exercises on how to put your heart on paper.
There was a chapter in the book called “Write it Down, Make it Happen.” It talked about a guy named John Goddard who made a list of all the crazy things he wanted to do in his lifetime. He made his list at age fifteen, and since I was sixteen, I thought I was right around the perfect age to make a similar list.
So I did.
Fast forward a few years. The internet and cellphones happened, and the world is a different place. No one is putting their hearts on paper any more — just about everything has “gone digital”. My parents were moving out of our childhood home, so my mom called me and told me that she had a box of my stuff, and she’d like me to come pick it up.
When I did, I discovered a cardboard box full of all that emotional pontification and teenage angst.
There were notebooks, and journals, and scribbles of my heart on paper — and among the piles: that list I made when I was sixteen.
I looked at it, probably for the first time in at least a decade. Number one on the list was, “Start a company.” I looked up from the paper, reality slowly sinking in. Not only had I started a company, I’d started a very successful company. It was like the reality I was living drew itself straight from a list I’d made when I was sixteen.
I started calling that list “The Crazy List”, because that’s what it felt like at the time.
Have you ever made a list like this?
I think there’s something about calling out what we want — the process of identifying it and then writing it down is incredibly grounding and insightful.
It’s almost like by writing down the crazy ideas, you actually start to make them happen. You’re pulling them out of your conscious, or even subconscious, and you’re making room for the doing part of life — instead of keeping all the crazy ideas locked in your dream space.
Every year, I walk through a goal-setting process. Part of the process is getting ALL the ideas out on paper. I think we all set goals for losing weight, or improving our relationships, or even broadening our mind and learning new things. But when was the last time you spent some time pursuing the really wild hairs? The ones that are so “out there,” it’s almost embarrassing to write them down on a tangible list?
Maybe you’ve made a Crazy List before. Maybe you haven’t. But either way, this time of year is a great time to start getting all your big, wild, audacious ideas onto paper — trust me, you can figure out what to do with them later. The important part is that you’re taking the time to think and dream outside the box.