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What's on Your Bucket List?

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Feb 24, 2014 1:03 PM

bucket-aurora-borealis.jpg

Photo by Travel Manitoba

Seeing Aurora Borealis (the "Northern Lights") is one of the things on my bucket list.

Throughout our lives we continuously ponder the existential, essential question: are we living our lives to the fullest? Ultimately, we have two paths to choose from. We can view life through rose-tinted glasses as an optimist, or we can carry a dark cloud above our heads as a pessimist. We are given a choice.

Instead of sitting on their behinds waiting for fate to make its move, many are taking a more proactive approach to leading a fulfilling life. Complete with journeys, first times, and once in a lifetime moments, they are leaving the "woulda, coulda, shouldas" in the dust.

By envisioning a simple list, these optimists strive to "fill their glass" so they leave this world accomplishing their biggest desires or making their mark and leaving a legacy behind. Commonly known as a bucket list, these "doers" not only set goals for themselves, but have also swept the social media world with inspiration for others to follow suit.

What is a Bucket List?

Made popular by actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in their 2007 feel-good, comedy-drama, a bucket list is a series of "I've always wanted to's" or "to-dos" before you die or "kick the bucket."

While it may seem negative to envision that you are working towards dying, the truth is, you don't have to create a bucket list that expires when you do. Instead, some like to chunk their lifestyle by saying, "I will create a series of experiences I want to accomplish before next summer." Whatever you choose, creating a bucket list is not about the destination, it's all about the journey and leading a purposeful and happy life.

Contrary to New Year's resolutions and goal-setting, creating a bucket list is a unique experience. Considering the former, resolutions and goals tend to focus on making a change. They may be to break an old habit or form a new one.

However, bucket lists focus primarily around a new accomplishment or an aspiration with finality. Much like a "to-do" list that includes fixing my dripping faucet, these experiences are concrete and once they are "crossed off" or completed, you can move onto the next objective. Let's face it, who doesn't like to check off an item on their list?

Building a Bucket List

One of the most important things to remember when creating a bucket list is that it is a very personal experience. No two lists are alike. While you can find advice or inspiration from another person, make sure that your list suits your hopes and dreams. Therefore, when you construct your list, incorporate a design that is easy for you to follow and understand.

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Photo by Ian Usher

Going bungee jumping is a fairly common bucket list item. It's a little too extreme for me!

1. Prepare

Find a note-taking outlet that works for you and gather your thoughts. Everyone has goals they want to accomplish throughout their lives. Instead of them floating around your brain aimlessly, make it a point to write or type them to make them visual. Bucketlistly is a great platform for building a digital list, but a notebook full of inked points works too. Pick a method that highlights your attributes and go for it. This is your project.

2. Plan

Develop a way to organize your thoughts. Should they be a serious of questions and answers? Should I start small and lead up to hard to attain goals? Do I categorize my experiences based on subject area or age limitations? Do I bother adding loftier goals I know I probably will never get to try?

Don't be overwhelmed through this process. Know that it's a work in progress and something that will constantly be molding and shaping as you do throughout your life. Nothing is set in stone. So, feel free to let go and not edit yourself.

3. Polish

Your bucket list will change as you do. If you come across an item that seems a little too impossible, like "become a gold medalist in skiing," and you're 30 and have never set foot in skis, it's time to rethink your bucket list phrasing.

Make your bucket list items probable while taking some risks. Do not set yourself up for failure, but don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Instead of striving to become an Olympic athlete, refine your experience and suggest "learn to ski and tackle the double diamond slope." Keeping your ideas in perspective will help you fulfill your commitments to yourself.

Filling the Bucket

bucket-pisa.jpg

Photo by John & Melanie Kots

Taking this photo with the Leaning Tower of Pisa is on many people's bucket lists.

What makes the cut on your bucket list will all be determined by your interests, curiosity and big dreams. Think about what you've always wanted to try. Maybe it's attempting to eat escargot, running a 5k or even taking the plunge by skydiving.

Looking back to planning, try to organize your bucket list by categories to narrow your focus and cater to your unique aspirations. For example, your list may include a travel category. Instead of saying "I want to traverse the globe," focus on an attainable location or destination. Your bucket list may include the following items:

  • travel to Europe and kiss the Blarney Stone
  • put my hand in a famous celebrity handprint in Hollywood, California
  • use my passport to visit Niagara Falls on the Canadian side

That way, your points are focused, specific and attainable, which will ultimately help you in crossing off each item.

A Cup Half-Full

Building a bucket list is an excellent way to live life to its fullest. However, the only one that can make your dreams come true is you. If you want to accomplish something, do it. Don't say, "oh, I'll get to it, sooner or later." Make a plan and stick to it. Remember, time flies and we want to look back and say, "wow, wasn't that amazing?" instead of "it was a little too late." Now that you've read this, get up, be inspired and start making your bucket list. The clock is ticking!

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