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How to Create and Manage Your “Bucket List” Before You Kick

How to Create and Manage Your “Bucket List” Before You Kick
Create and Manage Your Bucket List

There’s a new movie out promoting the idea that we should all be jumping out of airplanes, eating caviar and visiting the Wonders of the World before we finally croak. But is preparing a bucket list full of cliché items the right thing to do? Is it productive?

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star in The Bucket List. It’s a hilarious flick about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. The movie is generating all sorts of interest among the millions of people who have dream lists. Bucket List items include all the usual things that one would expect to find in a Hollywood dream list: skydiving, driving fast cars, indulging expensive tastes. It includes visiting the usually considered ultimate travel destinations like the Great Wall, Great Pyramids, Taj Mahal, etc.

The movie’s premise may resonate with many, but it is a flawed one unless the “bucket list” is created and managed in a way that reflects our individual true passions, interests and desires.

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If you are going after the bucket list items, but going through long arduous processes to get to the items, than what the heck are you doing? What’s the point? Isn’t that like playing golf in the rain where you are walking around 99% of the time getting soaked and only 1% of the time swinging at the ball? Wouldn’t it be better to golf on sunny days and find other things to do on rainy days? Wouldn’t that make the whole golfing experience a better one? This is similar to people who hate their jobs but continue in them anyway, while always looking forward to weekends and the occasional holiday. How do they justify it? Are you among them?

A bucket should not be full of impulsive stuff that we pick up as we go along through life. It shouldn’t be like grabbing a chocolate bar off the display rack. Nor should it be filled with stuff that other people talk and dream about unless it truly resonates with your aspirations. Chasing other people’s dreams would be like having a hole in your bucket.

The most satisfying things to go into the bucket for most of us are those that are part of a larger context. For example, visiting the Great Wall as part of supporting a family member or friend competing in this upcoming summer Olympics in Beijing would likely be a more meaningful experience than buying a package Great Wall tour from a travel agent. Developing that larger context or framework is something that can and should take careful and thoughtful consideration. It often takes hard thought and hard work to develop.

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Here are our suggestions for creating and managing your Bucket List:

1. Make sure you get satisfaction and joy from your day to day stuff. Don’t suffer the 99% to get to the 1% you enjoy. Make the whole experience an enjoyable one.

2. Don’t buy into your ideas and turn them into goals right away. Mull them over. If you weigh them carefully, you’ll probably find you can improve, replace or cancel them while enhancing your overall life experience.

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3. Make a plan and enjoy the process. Planning is not optional. It is a generally accepted as being a requirement by most of the experts in the field of setting and achieving goals.

4. Review list items often to make sure you still want to do it. The bucket list should be open ended. Maintain enough flexibility that you don’t become a slave to your own list. Make sure you keep working on adding new items while completing others.

5. Find ways to make each goal more meaningful. Include dimensions of quality within the items on your list. If you involve like minded people in group activities, you’ll likely get much more from the experience than if you don’t. For solitary pursuits, take steps to ensure you get the most from the experience.

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6. Document and share your goals for added enjoyment. If life is worth living, it ought to be worth writing about so commit some of these planning steps to writing. Writing the stuff down is a proven technique for turning goals into reality. Sharing them with others helps to cement your commitment to the goals and to bring others into the process. Don’t involve pessimists or nay-sayers in the process.

7. Don’t get obsessed with big “retail” goals. You are not required to share your secret fetish goals, or any goals for that matter, with others if you don’t want to. One strategy is to identify public and private goals and only share the public ones. Keep quiet about the private ones. Financial goals are often ones that are wise to keep private. But do celebrate your private accomplishments as you would your public ones. Don’t worry about it if they aren’t big or flashy.

8. Ensure your goals are consistent with who you are. Or reshape them to suit your style and preferences. For example, introverts and extroverts alike can enjoy a certain travel destination like say the Eiffel Tower, yet experience it quite differently.

The bottom line here is that you should find meaning and happiness in everything you do. Don’t get hung up on trying to compete with Nicholson and Freeman to get through their Hollywood list before the bucket tips.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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