Challenge: If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?
I think this question is something of a fallacy. Many of my present goals are long-term ones, and are somewhat more about the journey than the outcome. I exercise partly to keep fitting into my clothes and to feel good now, but also because I want to increase my chances of growing old gracefully. I'm learning to draw for similar reasons -- as I get older, I want my creativity to grow, and I want the skill to be able to put all the pictures in my head into physical form. I've always dreamed of a retirement filled with creative activity -- making art, cooking, playing piano, learning. At that point, I don't want to have to work so hard at it anymore -- I just want to enjoy it. So if I make all the bad art now, maybe in 30 years I'll get to be making something great.
I'm also trying to live much more frugally (trying being the operative word, but I'm getting better at this, too) so that in a few years, I'll have my debt paid off and we can travel. Again, not the most pleasant way of spending the present, but it's in preparation of a much more enjoyable future.
If I had a week to live, all of this is moot. I'd be cashing in the 401K and spending that week with my husband and family, hopefully on a beach somewhere with copius amounts of wine and good food. I spent a lot of my youth living in the moment, doing a lot of things for the experience and for the story. I skipped out of a lot of high school in honor of "being alive" and ran up a lot of credit card debt taking trips that "only happen once." I had a lot of great experiences, a lot of good times, and a whole lot of fun. I lived, and it was fabulous, and I don't regret it. But now it's time to be a grown-up (well, sort of), deal with the consequences, and prepare for the next round of adventure. We want to travel the world. We're not having children, and the condo we just bought is going to be enough for us for a long time. Barring unforseen circumstances (fingers crossed, knock on wood), in a few years we're going to have the time and resources to do what we want. And we will.
So, as long as I have a 40-50 years to live in relatively good health, I think I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. If I suddenly have only a week left, it all goes out the window and I'm headed for the Bahamas!