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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

How to Dramatically Change Your Life in Just One Week The Habits of the Highly Healthy How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It The Beginners Guide To Slacklining A New Way to Create a Bucket List

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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