Updated: Dec 14, 2022
We all have a mental bucket list. But we keep putting it off. How can we plan to achieve the items on that list?
The movie “The Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, is about two terminally ill men with only six months left to live who embark on an adventure with a wish list of things to do before they kick the bucket.
What if you had six months left to live? How would you then live, and would you embark on a similar journey to do what you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off for another day?
How would you then live?
What would you be doing differently? Hug more? Live more authentically? Permit yourself to be happy and practice gratitude. Heal some relationships? Dismantle some walls? Release emotional baggage.
What would you stop doing?
Maybe you’d put an end to complaining. Quit your job. Leave an unhealthy relationship.
Living With A Sense of Urgency
We all have a mental bucket of things we want to do, places we hope to visit, and people we would like to meet before we die. The fact that these items are on our “bucket list” indicates they mean something special to us. We believe that these would enrich our lives.
However, a bucket list is not a to-do list. Instead, it hints at what lights our souls and brings us joy.
The thing is, we never know when we are going to die. So the one thing this pandemic would have taught us is how vulnerable we all are. How little control we all have over some of the outcomes in our lives.
What is on your bucket list?
The Science of Happiness
Psychology professor Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University has shown that accumulating experiences and memories bring enduring happiness more than material possessions.
Suppose you had the time and resources to do them. What have you put off for tomorrow that you wish you could do today? Go to art school, travel to Morocco, run a marathon, launch as a stand-up comedian, complete a Ph.D., publish a novel, set up your own business?
What if …
What if you decided not to wait till it was too late? But start making plans to achieve the items on your bucket list now. If you did have all the time and money to do what you long to do, would you do it?
Be honest with yourself. What excuses have you made to keep you from living your dreams? Who would you be if you achieved some of the items on your bucket list?
Psychologist Tom Gilovich and former Cornell graduate student Shai Davidai have found people are likely to regret inaction more than failure from taking action. It means that people regret not pursuing a goal more than if they follow the dream and fail.
Five Steps To Making It Happen
Now that you are committed to achieving some of the things you’ve always wanted to do, here are five steps to make it happen.
1. Create a List
Don’t limit yourself. Make a long list of all the things you would like to achieve on your bucket list. We live with so many subconscious, limiting beliefs. But for a few minutes, permit yourself to dream. It may take time for you to uncover some of these desires. But give yourself time to create this list. And be clear and specific.
2. Know Your “Why.”
You now have your list. What’s the significance of the items on that list? The reasons for wanting to achieve these things are what fuel your passions.
If it’s to write a novel, why do you want to do it? Fame? Money? Or for the love of writing? If it’s to travel to The Maldives, then why? Because of the exotic nature of the place? The ocean? Maybe, it’s because it’s the best place for diving?
Knowing why you want to accomplish something can reveal what you value. And knowing what you love can help you look at different avenues to meet some of those desires. Want to attend a writing retreat in Paris? Why? What is pulling you? The time in Paris or the writing? What is the outcome you are hoping to achieve? Publication? Or creative expression?
3. Focus On The Burning Desire
Divide your goals into when you want to achieve them. Pick one item on your bucket list that resonates most deeply for you. Not in terms of what is “important.” But what will enrich your life? When would you like to achieve it? It may mean delaying the purchase of your first home to go on that Safari trip. Focus on what means the most to you.
Separate items that are mere “wishes” from a burning desire. Focus on the burning desire!
4. Regularly Commit To The Dream
How much time or money are you willing to devote to achieving this goal? Once you know how much it will cost, look at your budget. What monthly expenses on your existing budget can you reduce? How much are you ready to contribute each month towards the goal?
Many apps can help you keep track of your expenses, and some go a step further and help you save! The Digit app is excellent at keeping track of your costs. You can also set it to make regular money transfers toward your goals.
Contribute a set amount from your paycheck, whether bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly. And automate! Instruct your bank to take that portion off as soon as you get paid. You won’t spend it, and most likely, you may not even miss it!
Consider seeing a financial advisor for goals that will cost a lot of money. Such as taking time off to complete a Ph.D. They will tell you what investments you need for long-term goals. And, instead of spending money on incidentals or compulsive shopping, be intentional and save towards your dreams.
5. Take Action
How serious are you about wanting to turn that dream into a reality? And, if you are serious, take three actionable steps towards that goal right now.
Are you hoping to write a book? Then, start your opening scene, and don’t leave your seat until you have completed five hundred words.
Do you want to run your first marathon? So, look up where the next marathon will be. While you’re at it, look up various running clinics near where you live.
Get your calendar and decide what time of the day and how many times a week you will run — wanting to complete your undergrad degree? Then, look up universities that offer the program you are interested in pursuing.
A trip you are hoping to take? One that you have longed to take with your family. What can you do regularly to make this a reality? First, do some research and make a plan. Start saving for it.
Bringing It All Together
Some items on my bucket list included publishing a novel, living in the Mediterranean for half a year, and becoming a digital nomad. While I have accomplished these, I still have a few more things I happily anticipate doing — going to The Maldives is one of them.
What has stopped you from achieving some of your bucket lists? For most people, it’s a lack of time and money. Or conflicting priorities.
Decide what you would do today to turn your dreams into a reality. Then, take immediate action by doing three things that bring you closer to achieving that goal. And start now! Please don’t wait till it’s too late.