What do you think? What’s the verdict? Should we all have one? Would we benefit from having one? Are they realistic? Or are they just a list of activities that belong in the lifestyles of the rich and famous? What’s the criteria for an activity to make the list?
The other night I watched The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Like most people, I’d never heard of a bucket list until the movie. So what’s a bucket list? It’s a list of things you really want to do before you kick the bucket, fall of the perch, turn your toes up, meet your maker and so on. It could have just as easily been your “toes up list”, but of course the bucket is also a handy receptacle for carrying around all of your outrageous ideas and dreams. The story was about both men dying of cancer. With little time left they made their bucket lists in anticipation of deaths door and a desire to have some meaningful experiences before their time was up. I did wonder what that said about how they felt about the rest of their lives? Why this urgent need to do something special.
I don’t have a bucket list and have never really thought bout making one, but I am always up for a good To-Do list, so I began considering it. Do you have one? I began pondering what I might put on my bucket list. Of course as soon as I started thinking about a list, synchronicity struck. People began coincidently telling me about things they had done and or were planning, their dreams and their really big-ticket bucket list items.
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, and a shark as well
My next door neighbour, a gentleman in his late 70s, told me his wife wants to put a hole in his bucket, which seems to be mainly loaded with games of golf in distant countries. Another friend told me she swam with sharks last week. Apparently if she had had a blood nose, an affliction she suffers from time to time, it was probable the shark would have taken her head off. But never fear, under those circumstances, the Aquarium guaranteed a refund of her full ticket price and promised a voucher for popcorn and a choc top for her children. I guess it was a no lose outcome.
So should we all have a bucket list? Do we actually already have bucket lists but don’t know them as such, because we only associate bucket lists with preparing to push up daisies. What’s the impact of a bucket list, if I don’t have one, am I just plain boring? Even worse, what does a bucket list mean for the balance of my life, does it render it dull, routine, and meaningless? If I swim with a shark, will my goldfish pale into insignificance? Will I just forget about them until I find them floating upside down in the fishpond 2 weeks later or taking flight in a kookaburra’s beak?
I began thinking , do you really need to be on the “way out” to be inspired to prepare a bucket list and what sort of things should you really have on your list, to make it credible, if you want to story tell over a beer, or a fine wine.
“What ho, I did Everest on the weekend, Kilimanjaro is so yesterday.”
“Did you just? Well I swam inside a whale, I have the gastric juice burns to prove it.”
Psychology Today magazine says that the things we really remember in life are the peaks, the extremes.
“A bucket list is an attempt to make life memorable and is consistent with Daniel Kahneman’s peak-end theory, which holds that what people remember from hedonic events are their peaks. No peaks – no memories, or at least not very crisp ones…
A bucket list can also be an attempt to make life meaningful, depending of course on the specific items.” (Psychology Today)
So I won’t remember the 42 thousand Weetbix breakfasts, or the Vegemite sandwiches – shame that. We all remember the time we nearly stood on a snake, we fell off a horse, or we vomited on a roller coaster. And it’s different for everyone. My adrenalin and your adrenalin rush’s just wont be the same and won’t be triggered by the same events. I can get an adrenalin rush trying to keep my balance on a moving escalator. Hey, if you want an extreme sport, how about walking down a stationary escalator. Everyone gets an adrenalin rush on a stationary escalator (admit it, that first step is too weird). Surely you could sell that experience.
Time to list, I am convinced
Ok, I decided, I had to have a list. So I got a piece of paper, wrote Bucket List neatly on top and underlined it, drew a nice neat line for a margin, then stared at it for a while. Then I got up to make a coffee. Sat down a little while later, picked up a pen, stared again, then got up for a biscuit. Sat down again, leant back in my chair and stared at the list, then got up and fed the dog. What on earth do I want to do and why? The humble bucket list ey. Why is it such a challenge, I pondered again? The trouble is, you can hardly call them humble can you. The buckets are usually brim full of adrenalin pumping, highly impressive super charged activities. Out with a romantic ride on a horse and cart and in with a 280km, spin in a Ferrari hitting 5.3G on the corners. A bucket list activity is not worthy of a mention unless you lose a kilo of stress sweat and wet your pants from sheer terror in the first 60 seconds.
Ah me Bucketeers, what say ye?
So what are the key elements of a bucket list? I did a bit of research on what other bucketeers are doing, saying and thinking.
Stretch yourself – face your fears
Ok, It’s alright to soil your undergarments, just don’t make that part of the firelight hero tale-telling. Better to fail than to never try.
“You can be scared, that’s what makes accomplishing something that much better: the fear of failing and overcoming that fear. But you can’t fail at something if you never try and you certainly cannot succeed.” (Miss Millennia Magazine)
Dream big, don’t limit yourself
Dreams can be right out there. They have no timeline, no sunset clause (with the exception of some extreme activities of course. Two dislocated hips at 85 from your bungee jump is probably going to take the edge off your day, maybe even your week).
It’s all about your dreams and dreaming of amazing adventures and is no reflection on your respect for and commitment to the normality of the majority of life. After all, most of your life now was a dream at some point. It’s about motivation and goal setting. If it’s there and in front of your nose, your more focused and likely to archive your goal and it’s less likely to visit you in the form of a dull ache of regret when it’s all too late.
“It’s more than a list of my goals — it’s a compilation of my dreams. We often work toward our goals, but leave our dreams to the wayside, hoping they might happen on their own. But you have to work toward your dreams just like you work toward your goals. You have to make those dreams happen.
That’s why it’s so important to have a bucket list. Writing those dreams on paper turns them into goals, makes them attainable, tangible, doable — aspirations to work toward, instead of pipe dreams that might eventually happen.” (Alexis Grant -Entrepreneur and Writer)
Work Life Balance – gotta have it
This is something we have a right to do and is an important part of work life balance. Write your list guilt free, you deserve these dreams.
“We spend so much time stressed out,” Post says. “Instead, we should be seeking peace and joy. It is everyone’s birthright to focus their life on what makes them feel good. A bucket list gives them the opportunity to move in that direction. I review mine every day to keep me focused on doing what is significant and meaningful.” (Healthy Life)
Well that’s a happy, healthy and balanced wrap
So in the end, I have concluded that a bucket list is a way to articulate your dreams as actions, to give yourself focus on goals and to rid yourself of regrets. The first part is easy. Get a piece of paper, a coffee and a biscuit. Make sure the dog and the kids are fed, sit down and just write down all of your ideas. Everything you ever wanted to do. Let the list come to life. You’ll be amazed what you actually do once you list it.
Have fun and let me know what’s on your list.