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A New Way to Create a Bucket List

A New Way to Create a Bucket List

You’d think with over 7 billion people in the world, we’d have quite a few examples of how to live a life without regret. Yet for some reason or another we’re still making decisions that lead to the same regrets time after time. Author Bronnie Ware outlines the top 5 regrets of the dying in her book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing after years of work in palliative care.

Most of us have a bucket list. You know, that list of accomplishments we want to achieve before we die. It might include:

  • Learn another language
  • Earn a million dollars
  • Travel the world
  • Go skydiving
  • Get a Ph.D.
  • Buy a specific type of car

There is nothing inherently wrong with putting any of these items on a bucket list. After all it’s your list and the things you want to achieve have relevance and importance to you in their own unique way. However, after reading the book and going over the top five regrets of the dying I couldn’t help but think I have been going about my goals and ambitions completely wrong. Most of the things I’d like to accomplish are exciting, challenging, and rewarding but I had to step back for a minute and ask myself when it’s all said and done will any of those accomplishments.

A new way to create your bucket list

When Ware discussed with some of her patients over the years what they regretted most in their lives the top common responses are as follows.

I wish I had the courage to live life true to myself. The fastest way to stress, anxiety, and unhappiness is by comparing yourself to others or trying to keep up with the Joneses. Making decisions and living your life based on the opinions of what others consider to be good and bad. There is nothing wrong with wanting to please people. It’s just important to make sure that it is aligned with what is most important to you.

This can lead to some problems. The people you care about most and whose opinions you respect might be making it difficult for you to pursue that which is most important to you.

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It’s important to remember that to be safe and secure is ingrained in us. It goes back to our days as cavemen and women. The first priority was to stay alive. Avoid predators, find food and shelter, and find a decent looking mate so that we could keep the blood lines going.

If you are looking to live a life more authentic to yourself but are battling the naysayers there are three things you can do:

1. Spin it and just say thanks. When someone close to me voices their opinion or concern for decisions I may be making, I just say thank you. I thank them for loving me so much to concern themselves with my safety and well-being. I then explain that these decisions are being made because I want to create the happiest and most enjoyable life for myself.

2. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t just pitch your dreams to someone, live them. Prove that it is possible to do things a little differently than most and still be safe and secure in the long run even if that means sacrificing some of that right now.

3 Contribute. Think of yourself as a quiet leader. While this post is about making decisions that are most important to you it is still important to keep others in mind.

And always remember that those that care the most about you are often more concerned about your safety than they are with your happiness.

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I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Most of those that mentioned this as a regret based it on their desire to have spent more time with their kids, significant others, and friends. However, this is just a matter of priorities as we all have the same 24 hours to use in a day.

Time influences so many of the most important decisions you will ever make in your entire life. Just think of how often you’ve heard:

  • I just don’t have enough time.
  • It’s about time you started settling down.
  • Isn’t it about time you got serious?
  • By the time I’m _____ years old, I want to be ______.

The most successful people in the world today treat their time like currency, it is their most valuable resource, prioritized over money, sex, and all things under the sun. Here are three ways you can start spending your time more wisely.

1. Creating specific routines that you can perform day in and day it is a great way to create positive energy management. These can be as simple as getting up at the same to time every day, starting your day with a certain breakfast or exercise routine, or taking a 50/10 break where you take 10 minutes to reset for every 50 minutes of work.

2. Take time to plan your week, I like Sundays to set up what it is I plan to accomplish. I typically dedicate days for certain tasks like exercise, cooking, research, writing, laundry, fun, or whatever else I have going on. I also schedule daily activities like email, phone, meetings, etc. for specific times each day. For example, I try to not check email until 7PM everyday.

3. Watch out for bad mojo.  Some people you spend time with can be energy zappers. You know, those Negative Nancys who are always shooting down ideas, in a bad mood, or create a toxic environment. Run a quick evaluation of friends and family, which ones contribute to more energy, success, and happiness for you and which ones don’t?

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I wish I would have expressed my true feelings. The most common reason for not fully expressing their emotions was in order to keep the peace or to avoid bitterness and resentment within personal relationships. I agree with this to a certain extent but when I think about my own personal experiences the fear of expressing my true feelings usually comes down to attempts to avoid vulnerability.

Let’s face it, being vulnerable is scary. You’re putting yourself out there on the line to be judged, hurt, and rejected. However, this is a common mistake most of us make, we spend to much time concentrating on the negative outcomes that we forget about the more likely and positive outcomes that could take place.

Just ask yourself this question; What’s worse: getting hurt because I was being true to myself and expressing who I am or keeping my authenticity buried inside and never truly experiencing deep and meaningful relationships and emotions?

I wish I stayed in touch with friends. Most of those who referred to this said they believed they were too wrapped up in their own lives and took for granted the importance of maintaining personal relationships. It’s easy to simply expect significant others, friends, and other loved ones to be there for us when we need them. Sometimes you might forget that they have their own lives, priorities, and experiences to have.

One way to maintain your friendships and other relationships with those closet to you is to expect nothing in return. Be there for them when they need you, call for no reason at all, write letters, hug them when you see them, and be the one that actively seeks to improve the relationship. Don’t simply expect them to.

I wish I let myself be happier. This one sort of baffled me a bit. Nobody in their right mind would not actually not let themselves be happier. So what in the heck is it that leads to feelings of not maximizing your happiness? I’ve personally researched the concept of happiness to death. There are so many wonderful books out there that detail findings on how you can become much happier not only immediately but over the course of a lifetime.

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So what exactly makes us happy? You tell me, take a second to ask yourself that very question, I bet many of you never have. What makes you happiest. Are there certain people in your life you would regret not spending more time with? Is there an active you just have to do that would immediately results in more happiness? A book you have to read? Some feelings you need to express? Or a few fears you need to face?

The science tells us that there are some common themes that determine your levels of happiness.

  • Practicing gratitude
  • Staying optimistic
  • Learning to forgive
  • Practicing acts of kindness
  • Committing to your goals

To just name a few. However what if gratitude isn’t what brings you happiness, and instead a girl named Molly is? What if being optimistic just doesn’t do it for you but a night stroll in the sand next to the beach does it? Maybe you’re not the type that sets and commits to goals but a glass of wine on a Thursday night with your best friend sure puts a smile on your face.

Maybe it’s time to update that bucket list.

More by this author

Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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