Monthly Archives: December 2014

GUEST BLOG: What’s On Your Bucket List? (Why You Should Make a Bucket List Instead of New Year’s Resolutions)

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© 2008 Warner Brothers

As Christmas 2014 closes and the New Year approaches, where did the year fall short?  Maybe this was a great year, and you would rather stay in the moment; but for others, turning the calendar can’t happen fast enough.

At the beginning of each New Year, people automatically turn to goal setting and thinking about where they “fell off the wagon” again on losing weight, getting organized, saving money and exercising more—all in the Top Ten Resolutions each year according to Maybe you got the promotion you wanted, and you lost the 45 pounds you needed to take off.  Now you are wondering how you repeat it again next year.

If you are like my friend Dave, you can’t wait to start a new year.  Dave had major surgery and was in a car wreck, causing him to miss more than a month of work and setting him back thousands in medical bills—plus having to buy a new car.  2015 can’t get here fast enough for him, but how do you reset and start to think about the upcoming year?

I totally changed my mind a few years ago after watching the movie The Bucket List.   The main plot follows two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. I was thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions and why it takes a death sentence to get us thinking about travelling to exotic places, courage to go sky-diving, and spending quality time with loved ones.  I decided to forego New Year’s Resolutions and make my own personal bucket list each year.

Before you start thinking I’m morbid, I put together a few parameters for developing my list each year.  I promise it’s tons more fun and insightful than a New Year’s Resolution list.

  1. Target items that are relational:  I try to target 1-3 groups of people or individuals who are especially important to me but due to distance or busyness, we don’t get to spend the quality time we’d like.  For instance, my friend Sarah moved out-of-state ten years ago.  She is a special person to me and my entire family, so I wanted to carve out some time for just the two of us to spend time together as well as with our families.  We planned a long weekend together in Florida, courtesy of her frequent flyer points and going during the off-season to save money. It allowed us to have hours of conversation catching up instead of just text or emails.  We had our families spend time together at her house one weekend too. Once, I planned a “Cousins’ Reunion Weekend,” realizing that we had not seen each other since our parents had all passed away.  It was such a great time that we decided to make it an annual tradition.  So you see, you just need to be intentional about the relationships you want to give attention to.
  2. Make your list no longer than five items: This requires you to put real thought behind everything on your list.  Make a couple of them more achievable so you can check them off or give yourself a pat on the back.  A few need to be a stretch goal, where there is time allocation, logistics, or financial challenges involved with achieving the goal.  Just the anticipation of planning and preparing for something adds excitement.
  3. Include things that involve personal growth: Ask yourself is there is something you have always wanted to do or destinations you’ve wanted to see?  Maybe you have always wanted to play the piano or visit the homeland of your immigrant grandparents.  Schedule the lessons, or plan the travel.  You will feel twice the satisfaction because you are doing something for yourself—something most of us neglect.
  4. Put your bucket list items on your calendar early: Go ahead and schedule a date for each bucket list item.  You are half way to accomplishing something if you get it on your calendar, even if you still have to finalize details.  If your bucket list item involves scheduling time with others, this step is even more important because schedules tend to fill up as the year progresses.

Don’t wait till January to start thinking.  Put your bucket list together, and get moving.  It will be more fun and meaningful than New Year’s resolutions. I would love to hear some of the bucket list items you put on your list for 2015.

Ruth Smith


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