Do you have a to-do list?

I am not talking about a day-to-day list of tasks that need to be accomplished, although having one can certainly help you be more productive and give you the sense of satisfaction that comes when you can cross something off that list. No, I am referring to a bigger list—a dream list. A “can you imagine” or “what if” list.

Your big dream list, or Top 101 list, or whatever you want to call it, is the list of things you would like to accomplish in your lifetime. It can consist of small or big items; personal or professional; health based or success centered. It is an evolving, dynamic list of all those things that you will do “someday.” I use mine for inspiration and to keep me grounded, especially when life gets a little crazier than I might ordinarily like.

So what does this list look like? And how do you go about creating one?

There is no right way to create your list. It is, after all, your list. But I do have some suggestions to get you started.

First, do not think too hard about it. Tell your inner critic to simply be quiet for a while. Tell it a little white lie, if you need to, and pretend it is all just for fun. After all, your dreams are all “just for fun.”

Give yourself 20 or 30 minutes in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, and get several blank sheets of paper to write on. If you have some music that always inspires you, put that on as well. Tell your family that you are not to be disturbed while you are working, and make sure you hold them to it. They will survive without you, for just a little while.

The next step is to actually start writing down ideas. If you want to create some headers under which to list your goals, go right ahead. In case you need help getting started, here are the six categories I use for personal goal setting:

1. physical health and wellness
2. education and learning
3. family and home
4. financial and career/business
5. spiritual/ethical
6. friends and community.

Or you might just make a big, long list full of all of the things you want to do in your life.

Remember: Do not edit yourself as you go, no matter how much your mind may want to. Anytime you start to hear your inner critic saying things like “that’ll never happen” or “you’re going to do that?” just smile, say “thanks for your input,” then keep going.

Start with the biggest, most daring and seemingly impossible dreams you can think of. Think back to a time in your life when you did not feel the pressures of day-to-day responsibilities. What did you dream of doing “when you grew up”?

Do you dream of climbing Mount Everest? Put it on the list! What about learning to play the piano or speak another language? Write it down! Maybe you have always wanted to travel to Africa and work in a small village, helping the locals learn to farm. Make note of it! The point here is to write down anything you have ever wanted to do in your life—anything that you may have thought, hey, that would be cool to try.

There are no right or wrong answers here. It is your list. Taking the dog for a walk is not a dream, unless, of course, you do not have a dog and really want one.

Do you want to own your own successful business? Become a millionaire and retire in the Caribbean? Travel to distant lands and write a book about the cultures you encounter? Put them all on your list.

Spend 20 to 30 minutes doing this, and then post your list in a place where you will see it on a regular basis. The idea is to get into the energy of your dreams and remind yourself daily that there is a bigger world out there—even if you are already living a big life, you can always go bigger.

For some people, posting their dream list in a public place may not seem like a great idea, especially if family or friends are unsupportive. Don’t let those “dream stealers” tell you that it is not possible or that you are just dreaming. Of course you are “just” dreaming—that is the whole point! Find someone with whom you can share your list, someone who will be supportive of your dreams and aspirations and who will encourage you to go after them.

If you can, post your dream list on the refrigerator door or somewhere else where you will see it regularly. Otherwise, find a more personal place—a file on your computer that you can open each day and spend five minutes looking at, immersing yourself in the essence of it.

You may not get to 101 items on your list in the first try—it is tough to start dreaming that big if you are not in the habit of it. But you can add to your list on a regular basis. And as you review your list each day, try to find ones that you can start to work toward. Do you want to fly in a glider? If so, find a picture of a glider on the Internet and make it the desktop background on your computer. Research local gliding or soaring outfits and find out what it would cost. Then create a savings account, and whenever you have 5, 10, or 100 extra dollars, put it in there. If you bank online, you may be able to name your account after your dream. How great would it feel to be able to put money into your “Glider Fund” each month, even if was only an extra five dollars?

Make it a priority to go after at least one goal each year, and although you are probably going to start small, do not be afraid to go after the bigger ones too. I personally have several accounts set up that I contribute to each month. There is the little one that I try to use each month or every other month. Then there is the big one—the one that says “Tibet/Nepal” on it. Am I going to get there this year? Maybe and maybe not. But every time I put money into that account and every time I get my interest report at the end of each month, I see that dream getting just a little closer.

I used to think Mount Everest looked big from where I live, but it is getting bigger every day. And one of these days, I will be standing at base camp staring up at the world’s tallest mountain.

When I do, I will be thinking of all of you, moving closer—inch by inch—to your personal vision of a great life.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

A writer, personal coach, and success cartographer, Paul Keetch has dedicated himself to assisting others to uncover their hidden genius and live a life of true happiness and success. He strives daily to exemplify his credo: “A man with nothing to hide hides nothing.” Download a free bonus at