Why You Should Make a Bucket List

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

As you likely know, a bucket list is a list of all the things you want to do in life before you die, i.e. “kick the bucket.” (Since I live in Spain now, I find myself explaining English idioms with regularity, and this one is definitely an odd one.)

There’s something kind of cheesy and Hollywoodized about “the bucket list” that I’m a bit allergic to (thanks perhaps to the 2007 Rob Riener comedy of the same name), but, regardless, I’m going to make a stand here:

A bucket list can change your life.

The biggest, most amazing changes in my own life started with a bucket list.

Here’s what happened: I didn’t expect to have a crisis when I turned 30, and then I did. I deftly deconstructed my life in an attempt to get it back on track, and then realized I had no idea what to do next. I hired my first life coach, who was an absolute godsend.

We spent a lot of time on my bucket list.

Essentially, it included:

  • Find my soulmate
  • Have kids
  • Write books
  • Lead an organization with a positive social impact
  • Move out of the city, closer to nature
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Get the skills and confidence to go on a solo backpacking trip
  • Travel South America, Southern Europe, Japan, SE Asia

Then my coach gave me a further task. She said: “I want you to create a timeline for this.”
I got out a big piece of paper and drew a horizontal line. At one end, I marked my current age, 31. At the other, I wrote 95, a generous old age.
Then I started filling it in with all the items on my bucket list. This is where things got interesting.
In my 30s and 40s it was clear that I needed to concentrate my efforts on finding a partner and starting a family. I also needed to get started soon if I wanted to publish more than one book and also lead an organization.
My timeline was suddenly crammed with major life landmarks – up until age 50. But wait, what about all that travel? I wanted nice long chucks of time to travel and soak in new cultures and people; I wasn’t talking about two week vacations.

Determinedly I started filling in travel wherever I could. Age 33: Travel to Colombia and Bolivia. Age 39: A year sabbatical to Japan. Age 47: Six months touring South America with my husband and kids.
My timeline was ridiculously front-loaded. Everything I wanted to do in life had to be done in the next 20 years! I felt a bit panicked.
Plus, there was a vast empty expanse from age 62 to age 98. That was curious. My golden years needed some attention.
I decided to deal with that later. For the moment, at least I knew that I seriously needed to get moving on my big goals for my 30s and 40s.
I saw that I had three big desires for my life: a wonderful partner and family, travel adventures, and meaningful work.
Finding a soulmate seemed like a mix of intention, action and luck (and I had been working on it a long time), so I decided to let that goal simmer on the sidelines. The two other projects – meaningful work and travel adventures – seemed much more in my control.
I created an intention list around my perfect job and started taking steps to find it. Meanwhile, I started planning a sabbatical year in which I could hit as many of my travel destinations as possible.
It’s now nine years later. Today I unearthed my timeline from my files. Incredibly, I can check these things off:

  • Find my soulmate
  • Have kids
  • Write a couple books
  • Lead an organization with a positive social impact
  • Move out of the city, closer to nature
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Get the skills and confidence to go on a solo backpacking trip
  • Travel to South America, Southern Europe, Japan, SE Asia

Plus, the books and traveling to Japan are in the works for the very near future. Seeing my progress on this list was incredibly gratifying.

After all this time, here’s why I think making a bucket list and timeline is so important:

  • It reminds you that you have limited time on this earth. You can choose to use that time to do what you love.
  • If you want to live your ideal life, you’ve got to first visualize it and believe you can have it. Then, it’s time to start knocking things off your list.

Is it time to write your bucket list or put it on a timeline?

Or maybe you're feeling called right now (as I was so many years ago) to make some bigger, bolder changes in your life, and you aren’t quite sure what to do next.

If that’s the case, I’d love to tell you more about how I can help guide you through these (sometimes totally terrifying) changes. It’s my specialty. We start with your bucket list – your vision for your happiest, most meaningful life – and end with you taking confident, intentional steps forward.

Right now you can still join my Summer Sprint. I’m opening up a limited number of spots in my Back-on-Track 4-Month Intensive program for people who want to use this summer to create powerful change in their life and work, and go into fall in an amazing new flow.

Curious how it works and what’s possible for you? Get the details with a free 20-minute call with me.