How to create a 'bucket list' to live a more fulfilled life
The term 'bucket list' was initially used for people who wanted to get a whole load of things done before they 'kicked the bucket' and it was too late. It became more popular when Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made the film 'The Bucket List'.
As a coach, I have found that too many people leave it until they are old to create their bucket list, believing that it's a project for the retirement years. The trouble with this idea is they wait until they are too old to do half of the things they want to do to start living their bucket list life. They are too old, both physically and mentally, to enjoy all the highs involved in this haven of possibilities. I want you to imagine your 'bucket list' experience is a way to achieve a 'fulfilled life'.
The bucket list of life is living each day with intention and purpose. It's taking your career or business plan and making it fit into your life, not the other way around. It's a life that brings fulfilment to reality. It's a life of action. Doing and being who you want to be. You're only going to live every day once. It's waking up to living in the present, not wishing life away. Do you remember the famous scene from Titanic when Leonardo DiCaprio gave Rose the note, telling her to 'make it count'? You could be missing your chance to make every day count.
If you are wondering where to start here is a plan for you to follow...
First of all, I want you to put aside 10 minutes and 'journal'. If you have never done this. Just sit with a pen in your hand and write down all of the things you'd like to do in your life. After five minutes, when you start to run out of ideas, keep writing, even if it's only to write "I don't know what to write, I don't have any big ambitions, and I have no time", or whatever is in your head right then, and then miraculously, more ideas will come.
Next, follow this easy guide. Take 15-30 minutes to write as many things as possible in the following categories;
- The items you would like to buy from your own home, to the fabulous car and all the small things in between, we all have our wish list. Don't worry about reality here - just the dream. Then think about what is possible. Maybe you can't afford a Ferrari, but could you race one, etc.
- The activities you would like to do: this doesn't have to cost money. Maybe you want to climb a hill, visit a famous hotel, or walk barefoot in the office. Or, perhaps you could raise money for a charity by doing an event.
- The topics you want to learn: this could be spiritual, learning to meditate, taking an online course on sites like Udemy, taking a free college course, learning about health, learning a language... the list is endless.
- The instruments you would like to play or the hobbies you would like to practice: again, think about what skills you have that you can swap. One of my clients gives swimming lessons to two children in exchange for guitar and music lessons. Using YouTube for free lessons, or secondhand books could be an option.
- The feats you want to achieve for the first time in your life - any activity you would love to do which requires courage, strength, or skill.
- The personal goals you want to reach: examples could be getting fit for an event, being more productive, getting more sleep, increasing your networking, time management, tidiness, and community work, or even thinking about a legacy you would like to leave.
- The shows/bands you want to see or any activity which you know you will regret not doing or trying when you get too old physically or mentally to do.
- The places you want to go: many of us live where there is a landscape, monuments, and tourist attractions that tourists come from across the world to see on our doorstep, and we have never seen them. Make a plan to visit one place a month, and explore the heritage and natural beauty around you.
Finally, ask yourself, 20 years from now, what will be important for you to have seen and done? Next, Use the 'TGROW' model to help you plan your list one at a time.
- Topic: Now I know what I want to do from my bucket list, what's important about this?
- Goal: What's my goal? When do I want to do this? What are the specifics? Is it achievable or realistic?
- Reality: What needs to change to make this happen? Do I need support? What resources do I need? What steps have you already taken?
- Options: Brainstorm, with a friend, how you can make this happen - what constraints do you need to remove? What do you need to change, stop, or start doing?
- Way forward or Will: So what will you do and when? How will you overcome anything that gets in your way? How will you stay motivated? When and with whom will you review your progress?
Unless you are fortunate, right now is when the dominant voice in your head - we call this the 'inner critic' - shows up saying mean things like;
- "There are more important things to be doing, and you will quit anyway"
- "You are too old, too young, too fat"
- "You are not fit enough, thin enough, good enough, wanted enough to do the things you plan"
- "You are not worthy, and you are wasting your time"
To quieten the voice, acknowledge it, but don't argue with it in your head, as it makes it stronger.
Here are some exercises to try;
- Separate yourself from the inner critic. You have this; it is just a voice which shows up when you are 'standing on the edge of your comfort zone', with you believing it has your best interest at heart, but remember - you know better!
- Create a character for it. Make it funny, less formidable, and more laughable.
- Be compassionate with it – it is misguided.
- Be remote from it. Draw it or write down what it says, and leave it at home.
- Imagine the voice receding into space like the credits on a film.
- Thank it, ask it what it is scared of, and explore that answer.
- Journal about your inner critic and practise recognising its voice. Remind yourself it's not the core of who you are.
If you have ever felt like your life doesn't quite fit, chances are your inner critic is in the driving seat, stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone to live a more fulfilled life. Aligning what's on your bucket list with your core values will create a feeling of well-being, making your life fit better and making your future self proud. When you reach old age, you won't be looking back wishing you had started to live a bucket life sooner.