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The Fuck It List

March 22, 2016 — by Matt

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Disclaimer: This article contains a well-known curse word loved, used, and abused the world over. If strong language offends you, you can skip this one. However I'm going to continue using the proper nomenclature, because (a) it's used in only the most positive, life-affirming, and splendiferous way, and (b) I just added "not cursing in my writing" to my Fuck It list. Enjoy.

We’re all familiar with the concept of the Bucket List: a list of activities, experiences, and goals you’d like to accomplish before you bid this life adieu. Sometimes though, it’s just as important to decide what’s NOT important to you as it is to decide what is important. This is where the concept of the Fuck It list comes into play.

What is the Fuck It list?

The Fuck It list is the Bucket List’s evil twin; a list of items that you really just don’t give a rat’s ass about accomplishing. The Fuck It list is a pretty powerful tool to help you focus your energy and decision-making on what is truly important to you and fully cut ties with what isn’t. The more we can do to tune out the bullshit, the better. (Three curses in the first paragraph? I hope you’re still with me…)

As you grow on your journey to unboring, you’ll try a bunch of new experiences and undoubtedly your focus on what is most important to you will change. This might result in adding a few related items to your bucket list, but more often than not your Fuck It list will be the real beneficiary of your experience. When you’ve explored enough to gain a real understanding of what values, experiences, and relationships are most important to you moving forward, your focus on your real goals makes it infinitely easier to cast off any experiences that you just know won’t be important to you.

And one of the advantages of dipping your toes in many different new things is that a lot of those things will not be for you, and you’ll know it almost immediately with very minimal investment in time and energy. Tried your hand at web design and knew immediately it wasn’t for you? Boot it to the Fuck It list, and feel the weight of one more consideration leave your shoulders.

Building your Fuck It list

fuck it list - ecard

Building your Fuck It list is best done as an offshoot of defining your own values and areas of interest. Just like in diet or exercise, defining your fitness or health goals (e.g. boosting your maximal squat, or gaining muscle, or hitting a target weight) will help you eliminate the types of training or nutrition that doesn’t help you reach your goals. Once you’ve written off these methods, it’s much easier to filter through the advice of friends, colleagues, or the internet to concentrate on what will help YOU, and ignore the advice that helps someone with different goals. Just like there is no exercise program that is perfect for everyone, there is no one-size-fits all bucket list.

Sometimes Fuck It list fodder is best taken from the bucket list highlights of others. Your friends and family might have a few lofty goals and worthy endeavors that, although to them represent crowning achievements, don’t really rev your engine. These are sometimes the best fuck it list items, because other people, the media, and society will do a great job of talking them up. If you’ve already written them off, you can ignore all the noise and focus your energy and exploration into new areas, or into activities you know are up your alley.

This is how I’ve started to formulate my fuck it list. I’m still just beginning, so it’s pretty light. But I can breathe easy knowing that I don’t have to waste an ounce of energy thinking about the following items. I’ll also try to include how I settled each of these examples.

1. Running a marathon. This one was easy. My short-term fitness goals include building strength and a bit of muscle, looking like I’ve at least had brushes with athleticism, and being well-equipped to be socially active doing things I love like playing basketball, kickball, or clowning around at the beach. So although I have the utmost respect for those who train for marathons and other tests of endurance, it’s not going to get me into the kind of shape I’d like to be in. It’s not something I feel I need to prove to myself or anyone else, and by safely ignoring it I can focus on my real goals without the distraction of switching up my training.

2. Becoming a millionaire. This one came out of some self-evaluation and realizing where my values lie. I’ve always been of the mindset that experiences and relationships are worth way more than money in the bank, and although I think that financial stability and freedom is important, I believe this stability is worthwhile because of the happiness and health it helps provide for you and those around you. It’s not a goal you reach at a certain net worth or with a certain number of zeroes before the decimal point on your bank statement. If I ended up with a million dollars, I’ll be the last one to complain – but I’m not living my life explicitly to get there. This also brings up another great point about the Fuck It list – these don’t have to be items you’ll never do, just items you don’t have to explicitly strive toward.

3. Drive coast-to-coast alone. This is an example of an item I sniped from someone else’s bucket list; specifically, the excellent “75 Things Every Man Should Do” list from esquire.com. Although I found the entire list enjoyable and even earmarked a few items that might make it on my own bucket list, I found a few that were perfect Fuck It list fodder, including #7, “Drive by yourself from coast to coast.” This sounds really awesome, and I commend anyone who does it, but it’s just not something that revs my engine (no pun intended). Doing it with a few close friends? Now we might be talking.

Please note I’m not passing judgement on any of the above items, they just aren’t my cup-o-tea. One of these items on your bucket list? Great! That’s what makes us unique, and that’s what makes this my Fuck It list and not yours.

Undoubtedly I’ll add to this list as I get older. In fact, I might even remove some things. If one of these items really becomes important to me, it could get knocked off the Fuck It list – but I know it will just happen if it happens, no need to plan for it. I’m much better off investing my energy into the goals I have today.

Start your “Fuck It” list today!

Do you have a fuck it list yet? If not, take 3 or 4 minutes to jot down a few activities, accomplishments, or achievements that you just don’t give a flying fuck about. Put it somewhere safe (I keep mine in [Evernote]). Every time you try something and decide it won’t make you happier or enhance your life, add it to the list.

Start by looking at your bucket list (or if you don’t have one yet, think about some of your specific short- or long-term goals) and think about a few items that, while cool and worthwhile for some, would derail you from reaching those goals. Jot those items down first.

Next, take a look at one or more of the copious “Things every man/woman should do” or “things to do before you die” lists. In fact, go take a look at our [bucket list] items on this site; you might see a few right off the bat that make you think “well, that’s something I don’t care if I ever do.” Add those to your list and then forget about them and move on to something more important. The beauty of the Fuck It list is that if your outlook ever changes, it’s really easy to remove something; but until it does, you don’t have to bother wasting one ounce of energy thinking about it.

Start by writing down 3 or 4 things to get your list started. It shouldn’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes, and once you have the list started and somewhere readily available, you’ll be much more likely to add to it when you think of something new.

Started your list already? Let’s hear some of the goals you won’t be wasting any time or energy on in the comments section below!

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Focus on Just Showing Up

September 23, 2015 — by Matt

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"Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

When I first left home to attend college, I took full advantage of the new-found autonomy that living at home and the rigid schedules of high school had never offered. Classes were “optional”? I could roll out of bed when I pleased, sleep in if I felt the need, and it was up to me to manage my own schedule? Freedom had never tasted so good.

My newfound responsibility quickly came back to bite me when, after my first 2 semesters, my GPA put me in danger of losing my scholarship and I was placed on academic probation. Because my school was prohibitively expensive, losing my scholarship meant I could no longer attend that institution. I had been a good student with pretty minimal effort in high school. Why was I faltering now?

When I returned for my third semester I made a small yet fundamental change to my approach that made all the difference; I simply decided to go to class. I didn’t focus more on homework or spend more time in studying for exams. In fact there was one 8AM class I must have fallen asleep in every single day. But I went – to that class and all the others.

The result? I was able to eek my GPA above the danger zone that semester and after prioritizing my attendance the next few years, I graduated with honors.

Why is “Showing Up” so important?

“Showing up” is probably the most important step to reach any goal. Whether it’s going to class, or actually sitting down to write, or opening your development environment, or simply going somewhere that inspires you, “showing up” makes every subsequent step of the process easier.

This isn’t because “showing up” is all that’s necessary to succeed – far from it. But without showing up, everything else is a whole lot harder.

Here’s an example: You need to do some design work for a creative project you’re spearheading. “Showing up” might simply involve sitting down, powering on your computer and opening Photoshop. Or better yet, you could “show up” by taking a sketchbook, your laptop, headphones, and some inspiring music to a local coffee shop. Just opening Photoshop or traveling to a coffee shop doesn’t guarantee your work gets done. But by showing up, you’re setting yourself up to make progress.

The benefits of “showing up”

The benefits of focusing your energy on “showing up” are too many to count, but the ones that have helped me the most are as follows:

It’s an easy win.

We’re often best motivated when we feel like we’re already making progress; it’s why checking an item off our to-do list gets us so amped to tackle the next item. Showing up starts that momentum with an easy win and sets the stage for you to really get in the zone.

You can use your environment as natural motivation.

“Showing up” often involves going somewhere that’s more conducive to focusing on your goals. Even if your only aim is to take 3 steps into your gym and sign in, being in that environment will probably be enough to make actually working out a reality. Taking the effort to actually go to that drawing or photography meetup can be enough to spark your creative juices and dive into your art. Show up and use your environment to your advantage.

You’ll get information and experience you wouldn’t have otherwise.

One of my bucket list items was to do a stand-up comedy open mic night, a proposition which frankly terrified me. I went to the open mic three times before I actually stepped on stage and told some jokes, but in those first three nights I learned how the list worked, the types of jokes that worked, and got comfortable with the venue. Even showing up and doing nothing else was valuable, and without it I probably would never have checked that item off my list.

It gets you moving and avoids paralysis.

The biggest benefit to focusing on simply showing up is avoiding the “paralysis by analysis” so many of us go through when starting or continuing a project. You’re much less likely to get overwhelmed by the 50 steps required to finish the project when you can first focus all your energy on step 1 – just showing up. It keeps you present in the current moment and takes away a lot of our self-inflicted pressure to succeed.

So the next time you’re searching for motivation or unsure of how to proceed on a project or goal, figure out what it means to “show up” and just worry about doing that. Once you’ve showed up, the next steps become infinitely easier.

Want another take?

After I wrote this article I did a quick search to find some other takes on the importance of showing up – and found some great ones. Check them out here:

Step One is Showing Up” – via Scott H Young

The Single Biggest Thing You Can Do For Your Career: Show Up” – via Hanna Brooks Olsen


 

Leave a comment below with a time you just resolved to “show up” and how it helped you make progress!

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