The other week, my friend Karen posted to facebook that she had checked off another item on her bucket list. She and her husband had attended the Bible study class taught by 92-year-old former President Jimmy Carter at a small parish in Plains, Georgia. Other checkmarks? Seeing Nathan Lane in a Broadway show, visiting Ireland, viewing the recent solar eclipse and experiencing a talk by the Dalai Lama in person. Their next bucket list adventure? Going to see the Northern Lights this coming winter.
I started thinking about a bucket list and its importance. The Oxford Dictionary online defines “bucket list as: “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.”
I realized that, other than my wish to travel to certain places, I’ve never really developed a bucket list. Most of the items I’d put on my list simply happened without it being an actual goal… taking ballroom dance classes, learning to create stained glass, hearing Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble live, producing a TV show…. They occurred by circumstance or a spur of the moment decision, rather than by design.
What I’ve realized about bucket lists is that they keep you motivated. They encourage you to learn new things, to search for new experiences, to ensure your life remains interesting and fulfilling. Writing down goals inspires you to achieve them, just as a ‘to do’ list urge you to accomplish tasks. A written bucket list rewards you, not only through the experience of doing the activity, but also through the zing of reward when you check the item off, knowing it has been achieved.
One of the most robust bucket lists I found was on a blog called Bucket List Journey, written by Annette White. Annette has over 800 items on her bucket list. That’s probably a few too many for most people, unless, of course, you’re writing a blog or book (she wrote Bucket List Adventures). What she’s done, that may offer encouragement if you’re just starting a bucket list, is to break the list into categories such as Creativity, Location Specific Travel, Personal Growth, Food, Animals and Nature, etc. Creating categories may help broaden your horizons to think beyond the top-of-mind and easily doable. Each item should be challenging enough that it causes you to stretch. Don’t feel you have to add items as adventurous as her listings of eating fire and skydiving. After all, it’s your personal list, so it can be whatever you’d like to do.
So, I’ve just started working on my bucket list. What’s on yours?
P.S. You guessed it! Returning to Paris has already been added to the top of my list. (image courtesy of Ryan Hamrick)
Written as Editor of BeyondtheNest.com and published in the September 7, 2017 issue of the Newsletter