Horizon chasing, list making.

The health of the eye demands a horizon.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

On the night I turned sixteen, I wrote all of my dreams on small slips of paper and dropped them in a mason jar. My life list was born. I am a staunch believer in the power of the life list. Give me five minutes, and I’ll convince you to whip out some paper and a pen (or a crayon—whatever works) and start writing. Much has been said about goal-setting. Goals are good. But a life list is about more than items to accomplish or places to see.

A life list is a journey toward an ever-shifting horizon, and no traveler disembarks from a journey the same as he began. Making a life list could be one of the most valuable things you do for your career. It reminds you of where you’ve been, who you are, and where you’d like to go. And, ultimately, you are the most valuable resource you bring to your job.

In Nature, Emerson theorizes that looking forward is essential to our wellbeing: “We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.”  This concept of forward motion is key to creative progress and personal growth. One of my mentors introduced me to the “state of possibilities.” The idea is simple: if you’re stuck (mentally, emotionally, creatively), move. Take a walk, step into a different environment, look at the sky. When you return, you’ll be surrounded with new ideas and closer to a solution.

Making your life list is kind of like keeping a state of possibilities on tap. Our dreams inspire us to act, and putting them on paper is the first step. So you want to spend three months sailing the deep blue sea? Great. Now it’s out there, and you can take whatever steps are necessary to make that adventure possible. Feeling particularly uninspired at work someday? Look at your list. Remember that you are a person who aspires to taste a thousand different fruits—that’s interesting. You’re interesting.

I firmly believe that the best way to ensure creative success at work is to pursue your own passions. As you enrich your life with experiences, you’re gathering education and inspiration. And when you reach one horizon, another always beckons.

–Kathryn White