Want to Create a Meaningful Bucket List? Ask Yourself This 1 Question

If you look up the words “bucket list” in the dictionary here’s the definition you’ll find: A list of things that one has not done before, but wants to do before dying. To put it another way-it’s the things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’!

Some people create a list of goals, intentions, and objections and title it “bucket list” while others opt not to call it a bucket list at all and instead make a list of things that make them happy and refer to it as a “joy and meaning list.” 

These kinds of lists may look something like this:

  • buy flowers in Paris
  • dye my hair
  • ride all the rides at Disney World
  • visit all 50 states
  • learn to drive a stick shift
  • take a walk with my spouse every day
  • help the poor in a foreign country
  • be my own boss

While lists like this aren’t bad, they do lack substance. Here’s why. 

They are often filled with things: 

  • you don’t particularly want to do (but feel you should do), 
  • things you can easily do
  • or things you should be doing already!

Do Things That Scare You

I began a bucket list several years ago, but I decided to be very intentional about it.  I decided to ask myself 1 important question before I added an item to my list. If my answer to the question was yes, then on the list it went. If the answer was no, then I still aspired to do it, but it just wasn’t bucket list material for me. Here’s the question I ask myself:

Will doing this “thing” get me out of my comfort zone and make me stronger, more confident, and help me to be an asset to those around me? 

I’m a former “color within the lines” and “stick to what makes you comfortable” kind of gal. During my 20s, 30s, and into my 40s my confidence and belief in myself was at an all-time low.

I had almost no inner “compass” or direction. I didn’t value myself at all. I was directionless. I was lost. I was a mess, and I had an abundance of negative self-talk and negative beliefs running through my head. 

This all changed when I began challenging myself to do tough things. As I overcame obstacles, my confidence grew. As my confidence grew, I began opening up to people and having opinions about things. In essence, stepping out of my comfort zone helped me to become an asset to those around me.

Now, as a life coach, I speak to my clients about stepping outside of their comfort zone, making mistakes, picking themselves back up, and never quitting. I challenge them often to do things that create angst and anxiety inside of them to prove to themselves that they can do something (and live to tell about it!). 

My Recent Bucket List Biggie

A while ago I was telling a friend about a blog I wrote about a few important things we can do to make our life slow down. I mentioned the Your Life In Squares pdf included in my blog and the positive feedback I received from my readers about it. My friend said something profound that I won’t forget. She said, “It’s not how fast my life is flying by, but how much more I want to do before my life is over that concerns me!” What a great perspective she put on aging and I couldn’t agree with her more! I’ve got a lot more things I want to do before my life is over and I bet you do too!

Recently I crossed a “biggie” off my bucket list: a two-week African safari with friends. How did it get me out of my comfort zone, make me stronger and more confident, and help me be an asset to others you ask? 

Here’s how: Traveling 16 hours, halfway across the world, without my husband, and all this during a pandemic is not my normal behavior. I’m usually a “I don’t like to wander too far from home” kind of gal. This trip was a huuuuge step outside of my comfort zone for me. I navigated the airline systems like a pro (which included missed flights and rescheduled flights) and I hopped on two different 12-seater planes…scary but exhilarating at the same time! I also witnessed first hand how many Kenyan people who have very little are so happy and filled with hospitality. Experiencing these things boosted my confidence in myself and also compelled me to return home with a spirit of gratitude for things that I had taken for granted. 

Questions to Think About

There really is no right or wrong way to make a bucket list and having amazing moments can’t always be planned. But there are a few questions you and I can ask ourselves to think outside of the box and spur us on to add meaningful things to our list.

  1. What is the difference between existing and living? *hint: existing is allowing the events in life to control you…living is taking charge and controlling the events in your life.
  2. Have I done anything lately that has changed my life or the life of someone I know in a positive way. 
  3. What fills me with joy so much that I want to share it with others?
  4. What would I regret not fully doing, being, or having in my life?
  5. What will matter the most to me when I am in my 80’s and beyond?
  6. How old would I be if I didn’t know how old I really am?
  7. When my time is up will I have said more than I’ve done?
  8. What do I want to be remembered for after I’m gone?
  9. Which is worse: making mistakes and failing or never trying?
  10. Am I more worried about doing things right or doing the right thing?

Here are just a few things on my list:

  • Visit Israel and study His teachings on sites in the Bible (traveling to the Middle East frightens me)
  • Write a book (blogging is one thing, but writing a book?…now that’s scary!)
  • Visit the beaches at Normandy, France (standing on hallowed ground where brave men lost their lives should change anyone!)
  • Host a podcast for women (being vulnerable will increase my confidence and bring value to others for sure!)
  • Be a guest speaker at a conference (public speaking is another good way to build my confidence and bring value to others)

How about you? I’d love to hear from you! Please shoot me a reply and tell me about a few things on your bucket list. I hope your list is filled with things that make you shake in your boots and will inspire you to become a better person. Be sure and keep your list close and refer to it often. 


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