In a 2020 opinion piece, world traveler Jonathan Look Jr. called bucket lists “a place where dreams go to die.” Let’s pause for a moment. We know that sounds harsh and pessimistic, but Look Jr. wasn’t trying to say we shouldn’t live our lives to the fullest. In fact, he seemed to believe just the opposite.
“I’m not against bucket lists as a concept. When used properly, a bucket list can help you focus your priorities. But, if you say ‘It’s on my list’ and forget about doing what’s necessary to make it happen, your bucket list becomes a graveyard of lost potential,” he wrote.
At The Humphreys Group, we talk often about the importance of values-based living, which we believe goes hand in hand with “bucket list living.” Both encourage full and intentional lives, as well as a continued exploration of self.
So, how can you ensure that your bucket list doesn’t become, as Look Jr. so poetically put it, a “graveyard of lost potential”? Here are some tips.
Step 1: Create your bucket list.
Start by making a list of things you really want to do during your lifetime. While many bucket lists include “spectacular” activities like participating in extreme sports or going on extravagant vacations, your list doesn’t need to be full of out of this world experiences. If you dream of going on an African safari, swimming with manta-rays in Tahiti, or bungee jumping in Switzerland, by all means include those items of your list. But if you want to learn to play the ukulele, read 52 books in a year, and learn to make roast duck, include those items too. No item or activity is too small for your personal list.
Step 2: Adjust your mindset.
We’ve all heard the saying, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” and truer words there could not be. Maybe you hope to reach the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro one day. You take off work, book a plane ticket, and travel to Tanzania. You hire a licensed guide to accompany you to the top. You fight the altitude sickness and the urge to turn back. And after five days, you make it to the top. You look out at the earth around you and take in the view, knowing that this is an experience you will never forget. But you also know that it’s not just the view you’ll remember. You’ll recall your first glimpse of Tanzania from your plane ride in, setting up your campsite on the first night, sharing a granola bar with your guide on the trail, the interesting people you met, etc., just as well as you’ll remember the breathtaking view from the summit. The memories are made in the journey.
Step 3: Schedule out you bucket list.
One problem with bucket lists is that often people tend to view them as extravagant or even “impossible” to-do lists. While bucket list items admittedly usually take some more planning than the average activity, it’s important not to let these dreams fall by the wayside simply because they’re inconvenient to plan out. If you dream of taking a helicopter ride over the Napali Coast in Hawaii, think through the actions you’ll need to take to make it happen. From saving up money, purchasing a plane ticket, and taking off work, to booking accommodations and a helicopter tour, plan out how you can bring your bucket list dream to life and then set that plan in motion.
Step 4: Appreciate the small things.
It’s great to have hopes, dreams, and desires, but it’s important not to ignore all of the wonderful and positive things in your life just because they are not necessarily on your bucket list. The small day-to-day joys are what life is all about. Attending yet another dance recital for your daughter or getting takeout after burning the Thanksgiving turkey probably aren’t on your bucket list, but some of the most cherished experiences come from seemingly mundane activities.
At The Humphreys Group we applaud our clients’ desire to live their dreams and our individualized financial plans are designed to help make those dreams a reality. Are you curious about how we at might help you to live your bucket list? Get in touch today to find out!