The Impossible List: The Only Goal Tracking List you Need.

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Think of the Impossible List as a bucket list on steroids.

What does that mean? We’ve all heard of the bucket list; you’ve probably written one yourself. It’s this list we make for ourselves about all the things we want to do before we die. The Impossible List is different.

It always seems impossible until it is done

Nelson Mandela

The idea originally came from Joel Runyon in his ImpossibleHQ Blog and has since gained traction with other productivity focused people and life enthusiasts like Thomas Frank and myself. Joel has used his own list to help him run Ultramarathons, build schools in different countries and many amazing things. 

Joel Runyon makes a point of saying that the Impossible List is NOT a bucket list. It came to him as part of a challenge. His list included things he considered were impossible or improbable, hence the name, and challenged himself to complete them. Other bloggers have since adapted the list to include life projects and merge the impossible with the possible into a joint whole; merging the Impossible and bucket lists together. 

I share my take on the Impossible List with the likes of Thomas Frank, a successful YouTuber and author of College Info Geek. Rather than just include things which seemed impossible, Thomas created his list to include actionable goals, and uses the list to drive his actions. Instead of focusing on the future goals that he will someday complete, like a boring bucket list would, Thomas created an ever-changing list that grew as he did. His Impossible List compels him to action and excitement at every moment in his life.  

Pretty cool, right?

Impossible List versus Bucket List

When you write a Bucket List, and I suggest you to try, you are writing your life dreams on paper. The purpose of the Bucket List is to end your life with as few regrets as possible; to push the boundaries and live. 

The problem with bucket lists?

The issue with a regular Bucket List is that it focuses on the things you wish you could do and fixates on ‘‘one days’’. Bucket lists are great, but they limit you in the following ways:

  • they are future bound, 
  • they are ‘‘possible’’ or too narrow,
  • they are boring
  • they are static 
  • You can ‘‘finish’’ your bucket list

Don’t limit yourself by what you think you can accomplish. Dream big, don’t be realistic. You might put off your biggest dreams because they feel out of reach. You don’t act on them today or tomorrow or anytime soon. You don’t feel any pressure to act on anything on your list because you can always get to it later, or when it might ”feel” more possible.

A Bucket list has the downside of being stuck in the future, but the Impossible list does not.

When you write an Impossible List, you have the freedom to dream big. To reach for the stars and go crazy with it. You might never get everything on your list done, but the idea is to start with actionable goals now, and build on them progressively.

This offsets the idea that you need to wait until some undefined time before working towards your dreams.

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. 

Walt Disney

Another downfall of bucket lists is that they get shorter the more you progress through life. When you complete goals, you cross them off your bucket list and move on to the next one until you run out of buckets. This is counter productive.

The Impossible List, on the other hand, does not limit you in space or time. It is amendable and continuously evolves as you do. Once you complete a goal, you can change it to a new one or amend it to reflect your growth as an individual. If you look at My Impossible List for example, there are a few points which have sub-bullets that reflect different levels of achievement for the same goal. This allows me to be progressive and see results on my long-term goals, but also gives me the freedom to change or add new goals as my I get older and wiser.


What an Impossible List Looks Like

An Impossible list is personal and so hard to define. Everyone’s will look different. You can start with very small, highly achievable goals and build from there, or you can start crazy. By having the flexibility to include anything and everything you want, the Impossible List is awesome. It grows with you. As you get closer to achieving your dreams, your goals and ambitions might change, and so the List changes with you. 

You can write it in a journal, on paper, online, in your phone, or anywhere else you want to. Format it the way you want, include what you want and make it look good for you.

This is your list. You should make it look the way you want. Don’t make it how other people are making them, make it the way that feels right for you!

How to Start an Impossible List

I suggest checking out Joel Runyon’s guide on how to create your own Impossible List, but for me, the main point was to just start small.

It sounds simple, but staring at a blank piece of paper and asking yourself what you want out of life is much harder than it sounds. Like much harder. 

If you’re like me, you will have writer’s block and might feel shameful that you have no idea what you want your life to look like.

Beyond landing a career, what matters to you?

Beyond having a family, what impact do you want to have on others?

How do you want to be remembered?

These, and many more, are questions that I had to answer when I started my Impossible List. The answers were hard.

I suggest starting with small goals that ‘‘seem’’ impossible, but that are within reach, today. As you move through life and experiment, you can adapt your list and change your goals once you realize that you are more capable than you ever thought. 

What to include in an Impossible List

There is no answer to this question. This is YOUR list. It is personal and do with it what you see fit. Include anything and everything you want on the list. Don’t be afraid to dream and include the things you feel are impossible today-so long as you have a road map for how to get there. 

Have fun with your life, with your list, and don’t hold yourself back because you don’t think a goal is possible for you. If it is something you want, put it on your list and DO something that helps you get closer to that goal. Period. 

You can look at My Impossible List if you would like a few ideas to help kick start your own. But a common thread I have found is to break your list into different content areas that help you organize your goals.

These could include:

  • Current goals
  • Life goals
  • Physical goals
  • Personal goals
  • Relationship goals
  • Financial goals
  • And so forth…

Don’t forget that your list will and should change with time. Don’t limit yourself to only a few categories and don’t worry about finishing your list today. You will never finish your Impossible List, and that’s the beauty of it; it changes constantly and pushes you to live life to the fullest. 

What to do with your List

Literally anything you want. Share it; post it; burn it; keep it hidden or shout it from the rooftops. It is yours; it represents you, and anything authentic to you, can be nothing less that amazing. 

I shared mine on Your Brain Place hoping it would inspire others to write their own. But do not feel the need to share it publicly.

Let your success be the mark you leave on the world and use your Impossible List as the road map to your successful life.

I suggest you check out College Info Geek and the Impossible blog below for some other great tips:

Impossible Blog

College Info Geek

Thanks for reading, and stay happy 🙂

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