Humans love lists. There is great comfort in seeing everything we need, want, have, or love in one orderly place. We compile our top 10 movies, our groceries, our chores, our emergency contacts, and sometimes even our calorie counts. No wonder, then, that almost everyone these days has a Bucket List.
Humans are also introspective. We are our favorite subjects, and we love examining our own dreams and desires. Bucket Lists are a natural extension. They provide an ideal excuse to reflect, think long term, and point our lives in a thrilling new direction. They can include anything and everything we’d like to experience before literally kicking the bucket.
Breaking Down the Bucket List
However, at its core, the idea of a Bucket List is one of empowerment, vision and dedication – as well as adventure. Essentially, it’s putting priorities to paper, and presenting yourself with a clear and realistic challenge. It’s understanding the journey and meeting it head on.
The beauty of a Bucket List is that it is yours entirely. It’s not static, but a flexible account of who you are, what inspires you and what you want to accomplish. Your list can be chock full of entries like “Base jump off of Victoria Falls” or even “Try out for the community musical.” Long-term goals can intermingle with short term, and you can even throw in a few “If I ever win the lottery” entries just for good measure.
Filling the Bucket
Like many others, I’m also an introspective person with a fondness for bullet points. My own Bucket List is dotted with both wild adventures and personal challenges. For instance, “Take a foodie tour of New England” falls right after “Become fluent in Spanish.” Honestly, once I jumped in and started throwing goals into the bucket it was hard to stop. It was wonderful to imagine all the mountains I’d like to climb, foods I’d like to eat, and countries I’d like to visit, but diving headfirst into your Bucket List can sometimes backfire.
Don’t Tip the Bucket!
While trying to cram “Spend a day on a sailboat”, “Learn to make my own cheese”, and “Run a 10K” into my next vacation, I wondered if I was taking the joy out of my own adventures. Luckily personal development specialist Stephenie Zamora had some sage advice. She recommends only focusing on 2-3 goals at a time. More than that can simply be overwhelming and make your list seem even more unattainable.
Meanwhile, Andrew Gall, author of “Make Your Bucket List: How to Design Yours Before You Kick It”, has devised special prompts to help readers decide what is really important. Oddly, I’d only looked at my list as a place to store my biggest aspirations. Of course I had a few more poignant entries that were dear to my heart, but most were so lofty they were unrealistic for my personality and lifestyle.
Make it personal…
I took one last bit of advice from stress management expert Elizabeth Scott. Scott says building a bucket list is a great excuse to get creative and dream big – while also incorporating personal values. When I first sat down in front of my journal I had immediately started scribbling away. My initial 47 entries included grand adventures and wild escapades. However, even then I knew I would likely never pursue these entries with enough passion to make them a reality. They were dreams, not earnest goals. I finally understood the difference.
So, I took the advice. I chilled out, got personal and thought about what would really bring me the joy and satisfaction I desired. I brought my list back down to earth, but I didn’t stop dreaming. Entries like “Ride in a hot air balloon” and “Explore Taiwan” aren’t going anywhere, but they’ve since been joined by “Compete in the county fair” and “Write a collection of short stories.” Being involved in the community gives me joy, and writing is my favorite creative outlet. These simple goals might even bring me longer-lasting and more genuine pleasure than “Read The Brothers Karamazov.”
…But never stop dreaming
My bucket list is admittedly still hovering around 50, but I know each and every goal is an honest reflection of my hopes and priorities. It includes my wildest dreams, but also my simplest desires. Essentially, it’s my personal road map for a good, whole, and fulfilling life.
Whether or not we end our journeys with an empty bucket, we should take pride in our lists. If we are truly honest, yet adventurous and introspective yet brave, this little list will be a lovely reflection of our lives throughout the years. It might even be the simplest and most meaningful way we can learn about ourselves, which really should always be number one on our list. To learn even more about creating the ideal bucket list for you, More Than a Bucket List: Making Your Dreams, Passions, and Faith a Reality, by Thomas Nelson, is a great place to start.
What’s in Your Bucket?
What’s on your list these days (if you have one)? What are things that you have been thinking about taking action on, but just haven’t gotten around to it? Put it on your list. That is a great first step. Feel free to tell us about it here as well. Feel welcome to comment below…