How many of you have bucket lists? I do. This might sound counter to mindfulness, or present moment awareness, but mindfulness does not preclude making plans for the future. It just means that you don’t want to get attached to those plans.
I have found that making a bucket list has allowed me to participate in those experiences that make up a rich life, everyday events to the more daring or creative. I created my bucket list 15 or more years ago, just a form I worked up on my computer. Today, a quick search of apps brings up a number of options to create and keep your list on your device.
My list has maybe 20 or 30 different items, and they have changed over time, adding some, removing others. It has encouraged me to take not one, but two cross country trips to visit each state and each baseball stadium. It gave me the push I needed to skydive and to race a car on a race track. It helped me to overcome my fear of heights to hike Half Dome in Yosemite, twice! When the opportunity to go to travel to Machu Picchu on a humanitarian trip came up, I jumped on it (that was a two-fer!). I don’t think I would have done any of these things without making a written commitment.
Creating a bucket list helps you to define your future. You begin to look for opportunities that may help you fulfill one of the items on your list. Not only that, but you get very clear on what it important to you. Many of the items on my list include family and friends. All of them are centered around experiences or travel. There is not any acquiring of “stuff” included.
So, creating a bucket list is an exercise in getting to know yourself better. I really enjoyed the process and I think you will too. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
- Have different types of items within your bucket list. You might include a few physical challenges, like running a marathon. You might have a few adventures, like scuba diving on the barrier reef or hang gliding. If seeing the world is important to you, include some specific travel goals. Maybe you’ve always want to learn how to play the ukulele.
- Keep it meaningful. The list should be comprised of all those things that are meaningful to you. When I first began making a list, I had all sorts of suggestions from friends for what to include. But those are other people’s lists. You do you.
- Keep the list short. You don’t have time to do everything that sounds appealing. Better yet, make a long list but always have a top 10 list. The top 10 can change over time, but always prioritize. Those are the items that will matter more than the rest of the list combined.
- Have one item you can do with your currently available time and resources. It might be to go skydiving or rent a limo for the evening. There’s no time like the present to check an item off your bucket list. Give yourself a quick feeling of achievement.
- Set goals that support items on your bucket list. If you want to live in Costa Rica when you retire, you might set some financial goals and start learning how to speak Spanish. Remember to review your goals regularly and remind yourself why you’re pursuing them.
- You don’t have to create your list in a single sitting. Assuming it will take years to check off all the items, your list will change. You’re changing, so it’s only reasonable to expect your list to change, too. When something strikes a chord within you, add it to your list. When you wonder why something is on your list, take it off.
- Have few items that are relatively easy to achieve. Some of the best things can be simple and easy. Traveling to Europe is easier than swimming the English Channel in December. Give yourself a few easier goals and gain some momentum. Have bucket list items that range in difficulty from easy to difficult.
- Remember to keep a record as you check them off. I was sure to take plenty of photos and I have a REAL, not virtual, scrap book of the experiences with dates recorded. It’s fun to look back and it’s a bit of insight for your loved ones once you’re gone.
- Look at other bucket lists for ideas. There are countless lists available online for viewing. Seeing the goals of others will inspire you. You might even find a good idea or two to add to your list.
- Think about whom you’d like to share these experiences with. Going to the pyramids in Egypt would be fun. It would be even more fun with your adult daughter. Some of the items on your list you might prefer to tackle alone. Others might be more meaningful with a friend.
Bucket lists are a great way to enrich your life. Grab a paper or download an app right now! It’s not only fun to brainstorm, but you can also lay out a framework for your future.