I turned 40 in 2016. This milestone birthday was a catalyst for a big, hairy, audacious goal: check off 40 things from my bucket list in one calendar year. Initially, I simply wanted to challenge myself and have a bit of fun, but by the end of the year I discovered that a bucket list could be life changing.
A bucket list is a written list of things you want to do, see, experience and accomplish before you die. It is associated with being terminally ill or near death but anyone at any age can create and check off their personal bucket list.
Many people argue that a bucket list seems kind of selfish. Having a bucket list is a way of taking action to increase your happiness, connect with others and grow as a person through undertaking challenges. It is one of the least selfish things you can ever do.
Here are three noble reasons why you absolutely NEED a bucket list…
1) A Bucket List Meets Your Primary Needs
Author and personal development expert, Tony Robbins, has popularized the theory that we all have six human needs. These are needs, not wants. We crave these on a deep level. Two of these needs are a need for certainty—to feel safe and secure and to know that our expectations will be met. In apparent opposition to this, we have a need for variety—to have surprises and excitement in our lives.
One of the best things about a bucket list is that it meets your needs for certainty and variety at the same time. Certainty: You get to organize your thoughts, plan things you want to cross off and have a system for doing things you always wanted to do. Variety: you get to do new things, expand your world and challenge yourself. You thought a bucket list was an extra, a ‘nice to have’ thing in your life and now you realize it is essential for meeting two of your primary needs.
2) A Bucket List Aids a Deeper Understanding of YOU
As I had a limited time and budget to complete my bucket list challenge, I had to be really ruthless about items that were to be checked off. Yes, I could add them to a long-term list, but this exercise helped me decide what truly suited me. The tandem skydive was added and the bungy jump eliminated. Riding a jet ski was on the list. A cage-swim encounter with sharks quickly reviewed and removed.
A bucket list helps you zero in on your true desires, focus in on what you really, really want in life and remind yourself of your long-held dreams. In other words, you tap into your own passions and end up knowing more about yourself. Getting a deeper understanding of the most important person in your life (you) is crucial to living a more fulfilling life.
3) A Bucket List Turns You Into a Leader
The fact you are motivating yourself and directing energy to fun and challenging goals strikes a chord with many people. Your friends, family and especially your children will see that dreaming big is not only allowed but is also accessible with plans and goals.
Having a bucket list lets you become a better version of YOU. Once you start checking items off, you not only get to feel successful and accomplished but others around you learn valuable life lessons about taking action, determination, success and failure, among other things.
In a way, a bucket list could be considered an inspirational gift. You thought you were scribbling down a little list, but instead you were showing you are a leader, and goodness knows, we need more positive role models in leadership in this world.
A Bucket List Fills Your Cup
Many people argue that a bucket list is selfish but it can be viewed as a noble act if you think of its benefits – that it meets your needs, helps you understand yourself better and leads others to be inspired to improve.
Life today is filled with ‘shoulds’. You should help others and should think about the environment and should live mindfully in your community. But this is very hard when you don’t feel like you have much to give. You are often exhausted and overwhelmed with your life. You need your cup to be filled up before you can be generous without feeling resentful about it.
A bucket list is a perfect project to fill your cup. Doing something that fills you up inside and gives you a boost of joy spreads happiness to your loved ones and the world at large. You meet new people, appreciate other cultures and spend quality time with your kids.
As speaker and author, Lisa Nichols, eloquently describes it, fill your cup up so that it is overflowing onto the saucer and only then “serve” from your saucer. So build a bucket list and create a win-win with the world.