The Bucket List

Only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. Most people abandon their resolutions after just one week. Why?

  1. The first part of creating a bucket list is deciding how to maintain the list.  It can be something you keep on paper in a journal, maintain digitally on your computer, or even keep as a running list on your smart-phone. It needs to be accessible so that you can easily add to it.  
  2. Really look at your dreams.  For now, don't think about whether or not anything on your list is realistic.  Just write it down for fun, you can decide later.
  3. Next you have to evaluate your goals.  Losing weight is not the type of goal I am talking about.  Fitting into the dress uniform you bought in 2010 and going to Police Memorial Service in Washington D.C. this year is a goal. 
  4. Don’t forget to consider goals you abandoned because you believed you couldn’t achieve them from the past that you would still like to reach. 
  5. Remember goals are something positive; some of your goals may be life-long, whereas other new goals may occur to you at any moment. 
  6. Go back and remember things that you wanted to do when you were a child, teen, or young adult.  Did you want to go to the state fair?  Did you ever daydream about skydiving?   Is there anything you'd always hoped to do that you'd still like to do? Add it to the list.
  7. Think about what you need.  Consider your health, your relationships, your finances, your living situation, etc.  Add these things to your list.
  8. Think about what is missing in your life.  Is there anything you wish you were doing regularly? Did you love to read as a child?  Make it a goal to read a new book every month.  Were you previously artistic?  Consider taking an art class, or showing some of your pieces.  Do you need some regular humor?  Find a buddy to go to a comedy club with you. 

Getting Started on Your Own Bucket List

OK, it is officially time to make your first draft.  There is absolutely no advantage to postponing this endeavor.   All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil and an ounce of creatively. Completely let go of your fears and limits. Write everything that comes into your head, no matter how absurd or far-fetched it may seem.  I’ve listed some important and practical tips:

  • You can start small, for example, make a '2014 Summer Bucket List' or a 'Before I'm 40 Bucket List' if the more comprehensive list seems to daunting at this time.  Just start something!
  • Check out the bucket lists of other people for ideas; there are tons of these lists online for you to review. (I did a Google search for "my bucket list" - there were over 3.5 million hits.)
  • Your bucket list should reflect your own personality, quirks, and interests.  If you don’t have any desire to visit Paris, don’t but it on your list just because it is on everyone else’s list.  Don't censor yourself because you're worried how others would judge you.
  • Surround yourself with other people who actively set goals.
  • Mix big and small goals.
  • Include harder/easier variations on a goal. For example, live in an overseas country / sublet an apartment for a month in Rome.
  • Remember a bucket list is not a list of feats, but a guideline for self-improvement.
  • It doesn't matter if you don't achieve some of the items; a bucket list isn't an exercise in perfectionism.
  • Set some specific time aside each week to work on your bucket list:  planning, pricing, timing, etc. 
  • If you want, work with someone else who may want to indulge with you.
  • Be careful not to turn your Bucket List into a list of materialistic wants.
  • Avoid treating a bucket list as putting the rest of your life on hold; you still have to do what you have to do.  Enjoy your life now.
  • Oh yeah, now the disclaimer….remember that illegal or dangerous activities will have consequences.

The Benefits of a Bucket List

A bucket list is more than simply enumerating things a person wants to do or accomplish before she/he dies aka: “kicks the bucket”. Goals can motivate us to accomplish things both great and small.  However, these goals need to be coupled with practical plans for achieving them. 

A bucket list can also be considered as an attempt to make one’s life meaningful and fulfilled (depending on the specific items that compose the bucket list).  Sometimes we do not know what is worth doing until we actually do it, and then reflect upon it. The truth is that a bucket list is not about dying but about living.  Having worked as a hospice nurse I firmly believe this type of goal setting is extremely important.  You’ve seen it too…life truly is too short.  Happy New Year. 


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