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I’ve just had an interesting conversation with a friend. She has just revealed to me that she hates bucket lists. And not just the term ‘bucket list’, but the whole concept of making a list of everything that you want to do in life and working your way through it.
Her argument is that if you make a list for your life, there are only two ways that it will turn out:
1) You’ll write your bucket list, usually when you’re still at school (I myself wrote my first bucket list when I was about fourteen), and then you’ll lock it safely away in a drawer, waiting until you finish school, at which point you can finally start living. And then after that you’ll wait through college… university… your first job (you apparently usually need a bit of financial security before you can start on the list)… your second job… then you get married and have kids and suddenly… you’re too old. You’re retired, and suddenly your OAP heart is striking a big black ‘x’ through half the list: skydiving, surfing, taking part in 4 deserts, etc. As for the other things on your list (and I’m just going by the 50 most common aims to appear on people’s lists), you never became a millionaire, never won the lottery, there’s still big chunks of the world that you never saw, nor have you seen most (if not all) of the seven wonders of the world. Basically, according to my friend (who I’d like to point out, is not as negative and moody as this is making out – she’s apparently only negative and moody when it comes to the ‘dreaded list’ 😉 ), you just end up angry and disappointed that life got in the way, and you didn’t complete what 15 year old you swore you would by the time you were 30/40/50. And then you forget to realise what you did achieve; you married, you had kids, grand-kids, you paid off your mortgage. ‘Normal’ achievements in life.
2) Or, you become so obsessed with your bucket list that you do the exact opposite; life revolves around doing the ‘out there’ stuff; again, skydiving, learning to surf, crazy endurance races, etc, and instead, you never find time for the other side of life: work, friendships, relationships, and so you never marry, never have kids, never settle down, and you’re still a ‘renter’ when you turn 50 because you’ve never stopped fixating on the ‘amazing list’ long enough to think about growing some roots. So then instead, you end up lonely, with no property to call your own, and nothing but memories, photographs, and souvenirs – with no one to show them to.
She paints a pretty grim picture, wouldn’t you say?
And now for my opinion on the matter.
I love bucket lists. In fact, not just bucket lists – I love lists. As someone who was born without an ‘off switch’, they keep me organised, they help me to remember every single one of my crazy thoughts and ideas when my mind is working like a runaway train and I can’t physically start and complete every single idea before the next one comes along. And, best part, when I do need to take some time off and find myself distracted, list-making is the best sort of procrastination, because think about it, when I finally reach a point when my
mind body is screaming enough! I can grab a pen/laptop and scribble out a to-do list, and then suddenly, that list turns from procrastination to motivation and boom, I’m off! And as I already have a list there ready, all I have to do is get to work!
But I’m getting off track slightly. Bucket lists.
I probably fit into a much more cheery option 2). I’m 21 years old, and I’ve already completed my first bucket list, and written out a whole new one. Granted, list two may well take longer than seven years to complete, but I’m just proud with myself to have already completed one 58-point list by my twenty-first birthday. My bucket lists (and my day-to-day to-do lists) keep me motivated, they keep me busy, and it gives me something to aim at each day. Recently, I’ve realised that I’ve spent most of this year simply existing – not meaning to sound really cheesy. I’ve thrown myself into work, pushed too many creative projects to the back-burner, and I pretty much forgot how to have fun and to enjoy life. And I ended up completely miserable. I hid my new bucket list away and I dread to think how many days of this year have been wasted.
And then as recently ago as mid-July, it all hit me while I was in Portugal. I spent one day wallowing and convinced that I’d completely forgotten how to genuinely laugh and relax and have fun, two days figuring out what it is that I want in life so that I can set a goal and start working towards it, and two weeks now dragging myself upwards out of that depressing little hole of a life. And now, I feel so upbeat, and so happy, and so positive, motivated, energetic, and excited for the future.
How I’m feeling today.
I’ve written a ‘second half of 2013’ bucket list. Yes, maybe I focus on my bucket lists a little too much, but I think I’ve re-balanced my life and I’ve started living life spontaneously and equally ticking things off the list again. The way I see it, it’s good to have goals, and to aim to tick something off the list on a regular basis, but equally if something comes up, a spontaneous opportunity, I say yes. Something that I stopped doing for a long, long time.
And then if I think ‘oh, this crazy, spontaneous opportunity that has just arisen, this is a bucket list-worthy event… I add it to my ‘completed’ bucket list.
That’s my list secret. I always keep two; a ‘to do’ list, and a ‘completed’ list. Otherwise you end up sitting there, staring at the list that you’ve just written, be it a to do list, or a bucket list, and it all just looks so overwhelming. There’s so much to do, or so much that you want to do, that it suddenly doesn’t seem possible. There’s suddenly not enough time.
Buttt, if I have two lists, and I can see that I’m already part way there.. brilliant.
Of course, shopping lists are the exception.
As for my friend’s belief that by focusing so much on the things on my list: I mention it again, skydiving (done it) and visiting China (haven’t done it) and everything else I want to do in life – most of which is travel related – I’ll end up alone in a rented apartment full of photographs and souvenirs with no one to show them to. That doesn’t worry me. ‘Get married’ and ‘have kids’ are definitely not on my bucket list, and I’m not about to add them to it just to guarantee that someone is going to be there when I’m 70+.
PS. R, you’re such a miserable git today 😉