I was 12 years old the first time I heard about Kilimanjaro. A speaker came to a youth camp I was at to talk about her experience climbing Africa’s tallest peak. She vividly described her adventure and struggle to complete the climb. At one point, I remember her telling us she had to be carried near the top. Ever since she shared that story with us I’ve wanted to summit Kilimanjaro. More than 20 years later I’ve finally planned my trek. This October I’ll attempt to tackle the first of the 7 summits.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about bucket lists. Why do we make them? What’s important to put on them? Should they be long or short? Do we even need them? I’d like to share why I think creating a bucket list helps shape a more meaningful life.
1. First, we need something to look forward to. Life has a way of becoming routine. We wake up, go to work, come home and go to sleep. Monday to Friday, 50 weeks a year. Of course there’s a lot of other details, but sometimes those can be routine as well. Bucket List items can act as milestones. Something to remind us why we work so hard.
2. Next, we need to experience feelings of awe. A few years ago I read an article on the science of awe. Take time and read it. I can’t do a better job than they did. Your bucket list items should be things that will help you experience this wonderful feeling. Those moments will center you, and “stimulate wonder and curiosity.” It’s not just the bucket list items that do this. But having one can help us learn to seek them in our daily lives too.
3. Finally, our lives are nothing but a collection of experiences. Some of those experiences happen without planning. Some we are subjected to through circumstances of birth. Others are voluntary. The richest things in life are the relationships we have with others and the experiences that tie those relationships together. We do not need great wealth or resources to have a bucket list. Keeping our dreams in front of us, continually reaching for those milestones will help us in our daily routine to be mindful and present. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. Consider using your bucket list ideas in your passwords that you type everyday. Put a picture on your wall of that far off place you’d like to visit. These constant reminders will bring you back into your present where all the hard work must be done. Next thing you know, the trip is booked; the relationship is healed; the race is ran; or you’re meeting your idol.
My marketing friends tell me every email should have a call to action. Here’s mine: Go write down one thing (or one more thing) you’d like to see, do, or accomplish before the end. My dad recently told me, “Things change, but it happens subtly. You don’t even notice.” That’s a poetic way of saying life is short. Go make a bucket list.
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