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Bucket List: Kick It or Keep It

"I thought I taught you not to be so scared. You'll never know unless you try.” (Look Back Move Forward, p.157)

Recently, my husband and I were on vacation and I mentioned to a shopkeeper this was our first time there. She replied, “Now you can cross this off your ‘bucket list’.” I smiled and kept private the fact that I don’t have a bucket list. I have goals, but no bucket list. One might ask, what’s the difference? Short-term goals require me to stay focused on the present and live in the moment expending effort toward accomplishing those goals in a timely manner. My short-term goals were the gateway to crowning accomplishments including published works, performing stand-up, and spending time with family and friends.

My concern with a bucket list is the use of the word, ‘Someday.’ It can cause one to procrastinate, instead of, pursuing desired objectives. I cringe when hearing someone say, “Someday I’m going to look for another job. Someday I’m going to start exercising. Someday I’m going to be happy. Someday I’ll visit my parents. Someday…” Instead of putting things off until an unspecified date, that special, life-enhancing day should begin today because tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

If someone doesn’t cross off everything on a bucket list, does that list become a regret list? Is that life now viewed as unfulfilled because Mount Everest wasn’t climbed, or that trip cross-country never happened?

I understand some folks keep a bucket list full of future experiences like skydiving, flying in a hot air balloon, bungee jumping, writing a book, running a marathon, or traveling to a specific destination. Perhaps it’s a diversion from the mundane, stresses and responsibilities of daily life. When doggie paddling through life trying to keep one’s head above water becomes exhausting, the bucket list serves as a life jacket. Sometimes, putting words on paper adds significance and commitment to plans. If a bucket list offers hope and something to look forward to, it serves a purpose, as long as the present isn’t wasted obsessing over ‘someday.’

I think dreaming about accomplishing a goal, whether it’s personal or professional, is a healthy and necessary mental exercise. Oftentimes, we dream it first before physically planning a course of action. Whether you call it a bucket list or a goal, what’s important is taking steps toward accomplishing the end result ‘today’ not ‘someday.’