I have always been a list maker. No, not the naughty and nice kind of list. I create goals and write lists because that is how I get things done. Lists keep me on task.

When the recession hit Nashville in late 2008, I was nearing my 49th birthday and reflecting on my achievements. There were things that needed balancing and a lot I still wanted to accomplish. To keep from getting caught up in a recession doomsday mentality, I created a fifty by fifty list — a list of 50 things I wanted to do before I turned 50.

The goals were a mix of business, family, entertainment, hobby, health and well-being, and community. Before long, I had more than 100 items on the list. Some were one-time things. Others were more pie-in-the-sky goals. I also included things I liked to do — juggling, kayaking, star gazing, bird watching — but had put aside for more important things. I figured if I had over 100 items on my list, certainly I could accomplish 50 of them by my 50th birthday and feel good about my life and myself, even in a recession.

Here are some items from that 2008 list:

  • Surpass $1.5 million in giving to nonprofits from the Village Fund.
  • Serve as president of Greenways for Nashville.
  • Secure three outside condo projects.
  • Retrofit five metro schools with Home Energy Savings.
  • Walk 1,500 miles.
  • Paddle five rivers.
  • Have 10 good mothers /good sons lunches.
  • Finish writing my book, One-Mile Radius: Building Community from the Core. (Well, I didn’t get this one done until 2017, but it was on the list.)

I did accomplish my 50 by 50 list, and I celebrated by making another list with the elevated goal of 51 by 51.

Many innovators understand the importance of achieving goals. Research shows that high-purpose fulfillment is related to accomplishing goals frequently. Our brains are positioned to expect and celebrate successes repeatedly, leading to sustained personal fulfilment.

This year, I have 146 items on my list. My goal is to complete enough of them to match my age. So, it gets a little harder every year!

My current list includes a mix of business, personal and community goals:

  • Buy property for Core Development on a new greenway for a trail-oriented development.
  • Get three new condo projects listed with CityLiving Group.
  • Get my daughter through graduate school for her Master of Divinity.
  • Attend 10 music events.
  • Have 25 juggling sessions with five balls.
  • Do 100 practice kayak rolls.
  • Raise $10 million for Greenways for Nashville to get the next urban greenway mile started.
  • Meditate 50 times.

I now have more than 10 years of lists under my belt. It has kept me focused, disciplined and healthy. I look at my list nearly every day, checking items off and reminding myself that I have a lot to do.

What about you? Do you make lists with goals you want to accomplish? What’s on your list?