At the dawn of the New Year, a young student was told by his master, “Now that you are becoming more aware of yourself, I would like you to set reassess this years’ goals, so as not to lose the momentum that you have recently gained.”
“Much like a New Year’s Resolution,” the student said.
The master replied, “Exactly”, and then he gave the following assignment: “Make two lists. The first will include the New Year’s Resolutions of this year that you would like to keep. The second will include the Resolutions that you actually will keep. Begin with the first list, and when you have exhausted all of your ideas, begin your second list.”
The student went home and began his assignment immediately.
As he created his list of wants, he jotted down all the things that he had always wanted to do, from the things that he had been meaning to get around to his wildest dreams. After nearly an hour, his list of wants filled an entire page and contained all of his ideas about an ideal life. He then began the second list of the Resolutions that he will keep, which he found to be much easier and far more realistic and practical.
He brought both lists to his master the following morning. Upon greeting the student, the master said, “Tell me about your two lists.”
“The first list,” explained the student, “Contains all the things that I should do if I were to change my life in such a way to become the person that I have always wanted to be. The second list contains everything that I could do by accepting my life as it is and taking a more practical approach to the living the life of my dreams.”
“Interesting,” said the master, “Please let me see the second list.”
Without even looking at the list, the master ripped the piece of paper into tiny shreds and threw it away. The student felt hurt by this at first, however, it soon dawned on him that this second list did not matter whatsoever. It was the first list, the list containing his dream life, that mattered most.
“And now, the first list,” Said the master, holding out his hands.
And upon being handed the first list, he crumpled it up and tossed it into the trash without another thought.
Angry and hurt, the student cried, “Why did you do that!?”
“What you could do with your life does not matter. Nor does what you should do with your life,” explained the master. “The only thing that matters from this moment forward is what you actually do do.”