What has a yearly bucket list done for me? I’ve been diving with great white sharks, swimming with manta rays, beluga whales, whale sharks, dolphins, sting rays, and manatee, skydiving, bungee jumping, white water rafting, paragliding, piloting a helicopter, airplane, biplane, T6 Warbird, glider, jetpack, and fighter jet, trekking through the desert on camels, sailing to Antarctica on a tall ship, trekking gorillas, chimpanzees, and polar bears, meeting with ancient tribes, dancing with locals, taking selfies with penguins, drinking home-made Vodka with Russians, sleeping under the stars in Jordan with Bedouins, surfing, and traveling the world. I’ve visited more than 100 countries, all of the states in the US except two, and all of the provinces in Canada. Sometimes I have to look through photos and videos to actual believe that I participated in some of these experiences rather than dreaming them up. How the heck did I make all of that happen? With a yearly bucket list.
Every year, my bucket list has a different focus. One year, I focused on a couple’s bucket list. Another year I focused on an aviation bucket list. Any yet another year I focused on a wild animal encounters bucket list. Regardless of the direction, the focus is always on making my wildest dreams a reality.
Usually, when people think about a bucket list, they think of all the things they want to do or experience throughout their entire life, before they “kick the bucket”. While I highly encourage you to create a complete bucket list, I’d like to also encourage you to set goals to experience and accomplish on a smaller scale, which had lead me to a yearly bucket list.
Each year, I think about the most unbelievable dreams that I’d like to be part of my life and I write them all down on a piece of paper. I don’t think about time or other restrictions like finances, even though one item like a trip to the Maldives could be costly. I just put them all down. Then, I put the list away for a few days and add/subtract items in about a week. I continue that process for almost a month. What is left is a yearly list of things I truly would like to be part of my year. It usually seems completely unrealistic and impossible but I publish it and start thinking about how I can make it all real. I’m not interdependently wealthy and I have daily responsibilities like many other people. I just decide what is important in my life and work out how to bring it to life.
Here are four reasons why you should create a yearly bucket list:
Number One: Direction
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
You can chart your own course in life. When you write down your dreams and goals, you have a clear path to follow. It doesn’t mean there won’t have waves or winds to blow you off course, but a yearly bucket list will give you the direction you need to stay the distance. When distractions come, you will be able to easily focus on what is truly important and keep moving forward. Here’s my 2016 bucket list. It’s completely insane and it seems impossible, but that’s what I say every year, and every year, I cross off all of the items.
Number Two: Focus
How often have you said, “Where did the time go?” or “I didn’t do anything today.” Having a yearly bucket list will help you stay focused, especially if you have time-specific items. Use the items on your yearly bucket list to help you accomplish something each day. You don’t have to have an item for every day of the year; that would be all-consuming and leave no time for relaxing, surprises, or spontaneity. Instead, thing about what you need to do to accomplish an item or to get closer to your dreams. You will find that you have attained great successes as the years pass. Picking a few goals each month helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed and gives you more drive.
Number Three: Purpose
Do you think about what you really want from life? What would give your life more joy and purpose? Creating a yearly bucket list will help you determine what you really want out of your day, week, month, and year. Take time to reflect on your purpose and goals and write down the things that come to mind. This is important when creating your list and when you need motivation. When you have a bucket list, you already know the things you want and need to do. Additionally, when you have a yearly bucket list, you break down your goals into doable activities, which makes it easier and faster for you to achieve your goals. Too many people waste their precious time on irrelevant things, which in the end have a neutral or negative effect on their entire life. As you start putting things into your life that bring you great joy, you will feel more fulfilled.
Number Four: Achievement
The most important reason for having a yearly bucket list is to ultimately achieve your goals. It’s the main reason for having this list in the first place. With a yearly bucket list, you set your goals and you plan out a way to achieve them. To live a meaningful and memorable life doesn’t mean that you have to accomplish every item on your yearly list. Crossing off items should give you a sense of satisfaction; if items are left over at the end, you know you did everything possible to make them a reality. Reconsider the importance of left-over items and either add it to next year’s list or get rid of them. The memories from accomplished items will be the basis of a life that is lived.