Ok, so the headline of this article is a little click-baity. I don’t really have anything against bucket lists per se, but I was discussing thE subject of making grand plans with a friend of mine at the weekend. He has two kids, works really hard and cannot get outdoors in the way he would like - at least for the time being.
Making a bucket list can be a bit of a double-edged sword, so in this blog post I want to blow the trumpet for looking backwards not forwards.
Bucket lists can be a little far fetched. Many of us are striving to “be something or someone”. Perhaps you would like to legitimately call yourself an “adventurer” and you are naturally looking for big things to do to demonstrate this to your peers and yourself.
Bucket lists can become competitive. Perhaps your expectations are lower but, as in any walk of life, it can easily become second nature to compare yourself with others, with what they do and how you perceive them through their online personas and the achievements you hear about.
Bucket lists can breed a sort of narrow, check list mentality when many an important experience may not have been planned, but rather come of something entirely unscripted.
The danger of bucket list envy.
In our world of shiny-perfect Instagram accounts and the curated viewpoint of our lives that we often portray, there is a danger of bucket list envy, there is a danger of not achieving things, there is a danger of disappointment, inadequacy and falling out of love with what you do.
Yes I know that disappointment is an important part of life, just as success is, but I (in common I think with many people) have long-struggled with giving myself credit for the things I have done. I tend to put down most of my accomplishments to good fortune, the right people, the weather, the stars aligning… practically anything other than my own ability. Now, in truth, you probably need all of those things to be successful at anything (ok, maybe not the stars) but no-one can achieve anything without their own wits, good will or hard work.
So a look back can be a very positive thing for you.
“I have done this, been there, understood this, met him, learnt that…”
One good way of reminding yourself of what you have achieved in life, no matter how big or small, is to write these things down; “I have done this, been there, understood this, met him, learnt that” and so on.
The achievements do not need to be huge, life-changing moments and this “Achievement List” is probably not one to post or publish but certainly one to re-read and cherish. What you should consider is what you are most proud of, what has genuinely given you the most satisfaction, what have you learned, what experiences are you most grateful for?
Under the weight of an achievement list even the most self-critical of minds must bow slightly and acknowledge what has been accomplished. So this January, instead of writing a bucket list or a list of goals for 2019 I am going to look back, not forwards.
I am going to write a list of what I have achieved in my life; professionally, personally and recreationally. I have done many things and I must take some credit for this. Yes, I am very lucky, but I also had to work hard.
I have done this kind of exercise before, in the form of a review of the past year, and I know it gives me strength, satisfaction, self-belief as well as the sort of motivation many would say a bucket list is designed to do.
Try it - you might realise what it is you truly value and actually end up changing what you put on your bucket list.