Many of the changes I’ve made over the last few years have been a direct result of making resolutions, including the spending fast I undertook the summer of 2016 and my resolve to pay off almost $60,000 of debt in 16 months starting in January of 2017.
The impact of these changes on my life has been a-mazing. Which got me thinking.
Having proven I am capable of achieving some of the less fun things I set out to do—cutting back on eating out and travel so I can put more toward my debt, giving up sugar for a ketogenic diet—how much more awesome could my life be if I focused even a little bit of this energy on doing fun things?
What is a Bucket List?
If resolutions are about adopting healthier habits, the activities on a bucket list are about making life richer (not money-wise but experience-wise).
Bucket list items are out-of-the-ordinary experiences that demand some effort on your part, and may even scare you some (but in a good way!). Many items can even be ones where the journey is almost as good as the destination, such as the strength of character built by training for a triathlon or 10k.
Why Should You Have a Bucket List?
Maybe it’s a consequence of my debt-free journey but I have recently realized how much of a snooze-fest my life has become.
During the week, I get up in the morning and go to work. In the evenings, I work on my blog. On the weekends, I run errands and work on my blog. I meet up with friends too sometimes, but for a cup of tea at Starbucks and not to attend a festival or to go to a ball game. And I haven’t traveled because of the expense.
If this sounds familiar—or even if it doesn’t but you recognize the need to shake things up—here are four reasons why you should have a bucket list.
#1: It Gets Your Creative Juices Flowing
During my debt-free journey, a big focus has been on not spending money I didn’t need to spend. This didn’t mean I had to live quite as dull of a life as I have been but it did make it easier to just stay home.
While I still want to be cost-conscious, now I no longer have to focus solely on free or low-cost activities that don’t involve travel.
For example, I know it’s probably super cheesy but I have always wanted to go to Medieval Times, a dinner/theater experience that involves jousting and sword fights. Silly, right? But it is exactly the kind of silliness that will have a home on my bucket list.
#2: It Creates Some Excitement in Your Life
As I revealed above, my life has been on the dull side for a while now. This makes the prospect of doing something different so appealing—and exciting.
I have a few trips mapped out in my head already, including one to the West Coast to visit friends I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, and one to England to see friends I haven’t seen in about five years. I also have friends living in India so that’s on my list too.
The best thing is that even just the possibility of these trips make me smile. Sure, planning them will be a little tough because I have to figure out when I am going to go, book my travel, get a cat sitter, etc. But they are on the horizon and I know that I will be able to make them happen (without having to take on debt!).
#3: It Makes You Prioritize Your Time
Lately, I have seen a lot of articles about the cult of “busyness” in the U.S., and that it has almost become a badge of honor to be overwhelmed with stuff to do.
While I can’t waive a magic wand and make all the yucky stuff I have to do in my life disappear (laundry? dishes?), I don’t want to buy into this idea that I have to be constantly going to be successful at life. When you have a bucket list, it reminds you of those things you want to do that are bigger than your day-to-day grind.
#4: It Reminds You of What You Used to Dream of Becoming
I still remember in fifth grade writing an essay about how I wanted to be a stewardess when I grew up (they weren’t called flight attendants back then).
At this point in my life, I hadn’t even been on a plane so I’m not sure why I was so certain this was what I wanted to do. My guess is that it wasn’t being up in the air that intrigued me, but visiting other states and countries (or that I had seen the movie Airplane! one too many times).
Today, I know I would hate being a flight attendant. The uniform, dealing with annoying passengers, and handing out drinks without spilling them on anyone are just a few of the reasons I am glad I didn’t pursue it as a career.
But travel? I am all about traveling and know the many places I want to visit will make it on my bucket list.
How to Create a Bucket List
To steal from Nike, the best way to create a bucket list is to “just do it.” Get out a piece of paper, your phone, your computer, or whatever it is that you use for taking notes and start making your list. I only have two requirements.
First, you have to write it down somewhere. It’s easy to think that you are going to remember something that excites you and you can’t wait to do but it is surprisingly easy to forget about even items high on your bucket list unless there is a visual reminder of them.
For example, I mention above how I have wanted to go to Medieval Times for a long time, but when I went to write about it, I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant (I googled “dinner and jousting” and it popped right up, fortunately).
[If you are look for a fun discussion of why you need to write it down, listen to this episode of The Happiness Project.]
And the second requirement? The time frame can’t be “before I die.” This is because it’s unlikely you know when you are going to die, and thus chances are high you will assume it is “later.” As a result, it will be too easy to put off until “later” crossing items off your list.
What Do You Think?
Do you have a bucket list? If not, why? Let me know in the comment section below.
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