With the rise of the Bucket List, many people are looking for ways to create a life changing Bucket List that they will actually follow. Somewhere in the Bucket List becoming trendy, it took on a life of its own that makes it hard for it to live up to what it was intended to do. Let’s be honest, what I don’t like about Bucket Lists is that they have become long, often impersonal, running lists of things you haven’t done and might never do. Instead of being a guiding list of what’s super important to you, the sacred things you want to do before you die and that would bring you the most joy, it’s become a list of things that sound like fun and are more inspired by a blog post titled “10,000 things to add to your Bucket List”.
To listen to this blog post in podcast format:
If that’s true for you, I want you to take back the power of what this list means, and was intended to inspire. I have resisted making one, out of principal, because I don’t want to have a list that isn’t packed full of meaning hanging over my head. I also don’t like that the fact that for many people it’s nothing more than a running list, that gets added to, but not lived out. Let’s take a look at how to do that.I want to live the joys of life to the fullest, one that matches who I am and what I’m here to do, and what that embraces the act of living. That’s why I love a Life List, not a Bucket List. Click To Tweet
Set Your Intention: What’s the point of the list?
If it really is a list that represents the major things you want to do with your life, get clear about your intentions. This is one of those questions I ask in my podcasting boot camp, as well:
Why is that you want to do this?
What’s your motivation for creating (in this case), a Bucket List?
Take a few minutes to sit with the answer – it’s like any resolution – is this thing in support of who you want to be and what you aim to do with your life?
Is it answering the question that seems to hit each of us at the core, and that Mary Oliver so lovingly penned as “What is that you want to do with your one wild and precious life?”
If so, go forward. Start a Bucket List.
The next thing that I like to ask in podcasting boot camp applies here as well:
Is this something you intend to be consistent with?
Is it a list you’re making as a fun afternoon exercise, and then you will put to the side?
Or, have you had the ideas rattling about in your brain and it’s time to write them down?
Can you commit to revisiting the list each year and checking to see if the things still resonate?
Can you be really honest with yourself about what happens if you let the list slip to the wayside, and be OK if that happens?
Mindfulness – What Makes the List?
If you already have a bucket list, but have ignored it or aren’t inspired by it and what to keep it, get it out. Look it over.
What really rings true on your list, for YOU?
And this is where I want you to be really honest (maybe even too honest) with yourself – what got put on there because it seemed cool, or someone you admire mentioned it once? But it doesn’t feel especially inspirational to you?
How have you been adding the items that are on your list?
If this Bucket List is going to be something that continues to be meaningful to you, it needs to have things on it that are mindfully curated.
Creating a curated list for yourself means limiting your list to things that are meaningful. If this list is meant to be the big things you want to do with your life before you die, look at the list with some discernment. January is a great time to do this – does each thing till hold meaning to you? Does something like “ride a dirt bike” or buying a brand name of sunglasses hold the kind of meaning of something you really want to do before you die? If so, great! Keep them on the list. If not, revisit what you’ve got on the list so you’re happy with the contents.
If you’re going to spend the time, money, effort, and your wild and precious life pursuing these things, it’s important that everything on the list be special and important to you in some way.
This might mean that the list isn’t that long, or that it may be full of big things that take a long time to complete.
Balancing Aspirational against Overwhelm or “All the Things”
Let’s talk about something I’ve noticed about Pinterest. Perhaps this sounds familiar to you?
You log in, and immediately your attention is drawn by all of the different pins. There are great home ideas, great time saving tips, great recipes, and after a while on the site, you’re pinning a million things and you’ve lost hours of time. For me, I’ve found that somewhere in those hours of mindless pinning, the things I was pinning stopped being anything I was really interested in. Instead, I’d become obsessed with categorizing things. It was like my planner brain wanted to put everything in its right place, but my filter for what I liked or wanted or was really interested had fallen away. I’d stopped thinking about my interest in the items I was seeing, and just went into a reactionary mode. I pinned a lot of stuff that night, and finally wondered what in the world I’d been doing with my time.
I’ve told this story to a few people, and it usually gets some laughs and nods, like the other people have been there, too. Our pinning has become an effort to pin “all the things.” And, after it’s over, we wonder what we were doing and where the time went.
What’s this got to do with the bucket list?
Given the fact that there are websites with 10,000 ideas to add to your bucket list, I’m guessing that there’s a similar phenomenon happening around building bucket lists. Instead of these lists containing ideas that someone has been dreaming of doing for many years, people are shopping for ideas on what to add. My guess is that like Pinterest, it inspires people at some level, but it also introduces a ton of overwhelm and a ton of things that are added because of FOMO or curiosity, but not as a heart-centered wish to do these things before you die. Like my late-night pinning frenzy, the long-running Bucket Lists include things that the person really wants to do or that hold meaning, but they get added and forgotten.For a Bucket List to be really meaningful to YOU, make sure the ideas and the things on that list are from your heart. The point here is not to pack a list of things that sound nice, but never get done. The point is to build a list of… Click To Tweet
Try this instead:
A while ago, Andrea Scher led a class called Mondo Beyondo. The first activity in this course was that you took 10 minutes, and you wrote down all of your wildest dreams. And it could be ANYTHING you wanted, not limited by your current situation or life. You wrote it all down. And this list is the representation of your authentic, true, self, and the person you desire to be. So, if you’re looking to start a Bucket List, or you’re looking to add things to your list, why not start with a Mondo Beyondo type brainstorm for yourself? Pick those things that truly resonate.
Integrity – What do you Truly Want to be Known For?
Another way of getting to the real heart of what you want on your Life List, if you’re struggling, is forward thinking version of the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. The gist of his book and lecture of the same name is that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had been a favorite lecturer at Carnegie Mellon. They had a real lecture series they called “The Last Lecture” where people would get up and give a talk AS IF it was their last. In the spirit of the series, Randy asked to give a Last Lecture, which was in fact, his Last Lecture. He didn’t list off 10,000 things he did, one by one. He did list some amazing accomplishments, and nearly all of those were focused around the dreams he had for his life, and the family that he lived it with.
If you think your list backwards, if you were looking back on a life well lived, does each thing on your list feel like the kind of thing that you want to have spent your time doing?
In the spirit of the movie “The Bucket List,” sit with the question of what your heart and soul wants for your life. If you were giving a last lecture, what would you include? If you read your own obituary, what would you really want it to say? How do those things give you inspiration on what to add to your Bucket List?
What would you add, and what might you remove?
Bring it into Action
The thing that I think is missing from much of the Bucket List, and where I see it getting stuck, is that many people have a very large list, but don’t act on it. Or maybe don’t even keep track of it. From its earliest usage, the Bucket List was meant to be a defined list that helps give structure to a short life. Life is short for each of us, whether that be a year or 90 years, it’s not a long time.
So, what’s my suggestion around the Bucket List?
It’s simple – make the things on that list actionable, and if they are not immediately easy to do, plan them out so you can do them.
Starting about four years ago, I started making a list that I call my “10 in 3.” The idea is simple. You take a look at that long list of things that you want to do with your life, or the goals you have for the next five years, and you pick just ten things you want to do.
You list them out, 3 to do in this year, 3 in the next, and 3 in the third year. The 10th item is the “floater” and you can make it something big that stretches across all 3 years or, it can be something you put in just one of the years if the other 3 things you’ve selected are a bit light.
The idea is that each of the 3 things in the year are biggish. They will take some effort. You’ll need to plan them out, lay some ground work. In my past examples, I’ve had things like “get certified as a life coach,” “start a podcast,” “start my business” as 3 of my 10 items.
I’ve created a worksheet for you to use to start your own 10 in 3 list, which you can get below.
I hope you love this worksheet and that it helps you prioritize your goals and dreams. I look forward to staying in touch with you, weekly, in The Joy Chronicles.