5 Tips to Make Your Bucket List Happen Now, Not Later
Enjoy this guest post by my friend Jenn from Live a F.A.S.T. Life! Jenn and I have known each other for years. I've always been impressed with her passion for breathing more life into life...whether that's decluttering your home, cleaning up your diet, or following your passions with true "bucket list living."
If you think the idea of a bucket list is frivolous, you’re wrong.
How can I make such a bold statement? Because I have watched someone very close to me literally run out of time to live her life before my very eyes. And once you see that kind of thing, you can’t un-see it.
My mother, who self-admittedly let fear hold her back for most of her life, was diagnosed with stage four cancer in March of 2013. She passed away just six months later. And in that short time, she talked about a lot of the things she hadn’t done yet - live at the beach, drive a VW Beetle convertible and operate a bed and breakfast. She always thought she’d do it later. She always thought she had more time.
Until she didn’t.
But my mother wasn’t the exception. Unfortunately, she was just like the majority of us, who think that a “bucket list” is something to do later - when we’re older, when the kids are older, heck...maybe even when the dog is older.
We tell ourselves we’ll really start living after we’ve worked for 50 years, after the children are all grown, after the bills are all paid or after we get back in shape.
It’s always later, later, later... after, after, after... when, when, when.
The only problem with that plan is what if you don’t know when (or if) that “later” will come?
What if (like my mom) you unintentionally put off your life until it’s too late?
Don’t wait until you’re staring down a terminal illness. Don’t wait until you have no other choice but to treasure every moment because you’re fearfully counting every one.
Make that choice NOW.
Live your life NOW. Treasure your moments NOW. Go after your dreams NOW.
I promise you, it’s not as hard as you think.
I know we can’t all go jet-setting off to Europe or jump on an African safari at the drop of a hat. But, there are some things that you can do right now. And the cool thing is, once you start that momentum and you start living your life with more intention, the quicker you will be able to move to the “big ticket” items.
So, where do you start?
Well, first, you gotta make a list.
1. Make a list.
You’ve heard the phrase don’t put the cart ahead of the horse, right? Well, don’t put the cute little salsa dress ahead of the lessons either.
Slow your roll and start by simply writing (or typing) out your list. Most people haven’t even taken this first step because even that gets put off until later! So, by taking this first step, you are making the commitment (even if it’s the tiniest one) to begin living with more intention.
When writing out your list, don’t censor yourself. Let your creative juices flow and put anything on there that gets your heart pumping and fills you with joy (as long as it is legal and moral, of course). Want to learn to square-dance? Great! Always wanted to play the accordion? Go for it!
The point is to not limit yourself and to write down the things you’ve always thought about doing, but never actually got around to in real life. If you’re stuck or having trouble coming up with ideas, think about what things you liked to do as a child, skills or abilities you admire in others or places you’ve always wanted to visit.
Then write it all down!
2. Make a plan.
This is the part where the rubber meets the road. You won’t always be able to plan all your bucket list dreams out ahead of time. But what you can plan is how you’re going to make time in your schedule and room in your budget.
Because again, I want to reiterate... bucket lists are not just for the rich and famous.
Your bucket list may look a little different than theirs or you may only be able to mark off the teeniest, tiniest items right now, but I bet you can mark something off once you set out with intention to it.
For instance, maybe you work long hours and barely have enough money to put food on the table for you and your children. I am in no way suggesting that you should call out of work or blow your monthly budget so you can go skydiving. But what I am saying is you still deserve a little joy in your life and that it’s important not to forget to live when you are just surviving.
Maybe you always wanted to learn to paint or bake bread from scratch. Pull up a video for free on YouTube and buy the supplies/ingredients at the Dollar Store! It doesn’t matter how small or big it is. As long as you are doing something to nurture yourself and step out of the rat race (even for just an hour), it is worthwhile.
Look at your schedule and see where you are “wasting” time surfing social media or binge-watching Netflix and use some of that time to take an art class or learn a new skill. Look over your budget and see if you can’t cut out your weekly coffee drinks or sushi dates to make room for a cooking class or a guitar lesson.
Usually, you will find some wiggle room in your budget and schedule that you didn’t even realize was there. And again, even if you can’t... focus on items that are free or very cheap for now. Sometimes those end up being even more fun than the extravagant adventures!
3. Talk about it!
If we all are just six people away from Kevin Bacon, you have no idea how close you might be to someone who can help you learn to ride a horse or drive a race car. So, talk about it! Bucket lists are exciting and fun, so don’t keep it to yourself. Let your friends and family know what you’re up to, chat about it at lunch with the coworkers or if you find yourself particularly bored waiting for your caramel macchiato, tell the barista! The point is, everyone knows someone and you never know when that “someone” could be your connection to completing one of your bucket list items.
And, as a bonus... you may just inspire them to start working on their bucket list too!
4. Work it in your existing life.
This is where I must reiterate that I am not going all “Eat, Pray, Love” on you and telling you to quit your job and move to the other side of the world.
I know that the reality of your day may include a busy morning of getting the kids off to school, a mind-numbing commute, a long day at the office and another stress-inducing commute before dinner, homework, dishes and bedtime.
But, I am challenging you to work “bucket list living” into your existing life... as it is right now.
Have a standing playdate at the park with the other moms from the neighborhood every Wednesday morning? Why not turn it into an impromptu book club or watercolor class? You guys get to learn a new skill and have fun while the kids play on the jungle gym.
Or if you’re already traveling to another city for business, don’t spend the entire time in meetings and the hotel. Venture out and find something new to do there like take a cooking class or visit an art gallery.
If you need to buy a gift for an upcoming baby shower and have always wanted to learn to crochet, combine the two and teach yourself to make a sweet pair of booties or a blanket.
Again, the point is to think outside of the daily box that you’re used to living in. And to become intentional (starting to see a theme here?) about your life!
5. Take a friend!
Have you ever promised yourself you’d start getting up early to go for a run before work, only to hit snooze on your alarm fifteen times instead? I bet if your BFF Suzie was meeting you at your front door to go with you, you’d be a little more apt to get up and get moving, wouldn’t you?
That’s because we are more likely to actually follow through with something when someone else is involved, as opposed to when we’re the only one accountable.
So, why not get Suzie involved with your bucket list living too? Not only will you be more apt to follow through on your plans, but you will hopefully inspire her to make some of her own as well. You may also end up finding out that you’ve had some shared dreams all this time and didn’t even know it.
Besides, if you can’t get doused in colored cornstarch with your BFF, then what good are they anyway?
About the author
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished speaker, freelance writer and the author of the new book, Live a F.a.s.t. Life: How Stripping Down and Cleaning Up Gave Me My Life Back, which is available now on her website, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
She has been published in numerous print and online publications and appears at tiny house festivals, healthy living festivals and private engagements across the country, speaking on the subjects of downsizing & minimalism, clean eating, healthy living and spiritual health. She appeared on HGTV’s “Tiny House Big Living,” is a regular guest on the NBC morning show “Charlotte Today” on WCNC-TV and has also appeared as a guest on several tiny house-themed podcasts including The Purpose Show, the Tiny House Podcast and Tiny House Canada.
In 2015, Jenn launched her website, Live a F.A.S.T. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living and downsizing into a 160-square- foot tiny house. She now teaches others how to make similar changes in their own lives through her online webinars and her e-course collection, De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress.