How to Kick the List Before the Bucket


School of Hammerhead Sharks, Wolf Island, Gala...

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We’ve all heard about bucket lists. Generally, it’s a list of high-reaching, lofty and wonderfully amazing things to do or see before you die. There’s a movie about it. There are books about it. There are even lists that tell you what to put on your bucket list. It’s fun –maybe even exhilarating — to fantasize about imaginative, daring or even exotic adventures you could experience before you die. The problem with most of these bucket lists is that unless you are a person with unlimited money, freedom or time, it gets difficult to ever check off any of your “to-dos.” The bucket list becomes fun to create but overwhelming to carry out. Eventually, enthusiasm wanes because you’ve created an unattainable list of goals and discouragement sets in. So you go back to punching that time card, day in and day out while the goals you dreamt of fall to the wayside.

I believe you should dream big but start small. My motto is, “Kick the list before the bucket.” In other words, build a list that you CAN conquer. Set high but manageable goals for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with “Visiting the pyramids… swimming with sharks…or sailing the Galapagos Islands, but the likelihood of being able to travel to all those places is difficult for most people. There’s nothing wrong with seeing the world, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures if traveling is something that interests you, but also take the time to decide what you want to strive for in other areas of your life.

What do you want to do in your career?

Do you want to have a family?

Have you set any financial goals?

Consider things such as your health, personal development and relationships as other areas of your life that have importance and could benefit from goal-setting. Remember, small steps can make a big impact.

When I was 22, I decided that I was going to do a handful of things in my life:

1. Move out of Ohio
2. Live in Europe
3. Get married
4. Have children
5. Write a book

At the age of 36, I can say that I have accomplished them all and then some. Sure, I have more unique, interesting aspirations on my “long list,” but my short list of more feasible goals are checked and have been completed in a relatively short amount of time.

Also, take time to think about how you can take some very ambitious goals and make them simpler to tackle. For example, I’ve always wanted to work at an Orangutan Rescue Camp in Borneo, sort of like Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey. Knowing that would be tough to do in the forseeable future, I looked at alternate ways to accomplish my dream that would still fulfill my love of working with endangered apes in an up-close-and-personal atmosphere. Instead, I worked every weekend as a volunteer providing enrichment activities and speaking sign language to two orangutans and a gorilla at the Monkey Jungle, in Florida.  It was an unforgettable experience despite not being in Borneo. I feel I took a step forward even if it was not in the way I originally planned.

Having a list gives you a feeling of control and an understanding of where you are headed. I am a huge fan of lists. I get such a good feeling from crossing something off – even if it’s just something as simple as paying the bills. Without lists, I wouldn’t feel like I was getting anywhere in life.

Challenge yourself in 2011. Pick five areas of your life and set a goal in each. Make sure that they are things that you can control and can be accomplished within a realistic timeframe. For example, start with 5, 10 or 15 years. Most importantly, make your goals measurable.

Don’t just say, “I want to be happy.” Instead say, “I will spend every other Saturday with my family” – or whatever will help get you closer to that happiness. Don’t be too hard on yourself or make the goal too difficult to attain.

Once you identify your special list, I think you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

Now start kicking that list…

(Parents note: Ask your kids to do it too! Pick 3-5 goals and focus on a shorter time frame. It’s a great way to keep them interested in working toward a goal and can teach some important lessons in pateince, hard work, and dedication along the way.)

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About bizemom

I am a busy working mom (get it... "Biz e-Mom"?) of three kids under the age of four. I have a white-collar day job, I have a night job as a mom, and an "in between" job as a freelance writer and blogger. What can I say, I am a glutton for punishment and I don't go to bed until 1 a.m. No matter how much I complain, I like being busy. That must be the Sagitarius in me--we get bored easily. Now on to the next adventure (I mean... venture!)
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4 Responses to How to Kick the List Before the Bucket

  1. Stephanie says:

    Monkey Jungle was one of the highlights of my life! Thanks for the memories.

    • bizemom says:

      Couldn’t have done it without you! But how many people can say they made games for apes, communicated with them and then shoveled their poo 🙂 Wait… that is exactly what I do now for my kids!

  2. Chantelle says:

    Great tips for setting goals! Many people aren’t specific enough, but can’t figure out why they aren’t accomplishing anything.

  3. I agree with what you said here. I’ve also written about lists lately, I’m obsessed with them! However, years ago I wrote a list of what I wanted to acheive in terms of my music and education. I set myself a time-line and decided what I was going to study, and when and how long it would take me. I stuck to my list, everything fell into place and I acheived what I set out to do. I’ve done the same for this year regarding every area of my life and I’ve achieved my first one already which was to get myself an agent. I’ve loads more things I intend to see happen this year so as long as I’m focused and realistic I’ll get there. Great post.

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