Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Bucket List

We are quickly approaching the end of yet another year in our lives. As is typical at this point in the year, people start to reflect upon what 2008 gave them and set what we colloquially refer to as 'resolutions'. You know the type- "I will lose 20 pounds" , " I will exercise". So often these 'lists' get shuffled in a drawer some place and by Valentine's day, all is forgotten. At the end of it all, the health clubs sell memberships and we get no closer to self improvement.
Wouldn't it be great if 2009 was different? Wouldn't it be great if you set a list of things to do that actually meant something? To you and to those around you? After all, we have a limited amount of time on this great planet of ours and we never know when our ticket will get punched. It's funny but many don't have this realization until they are faced with a terminal illness or perhaps when their world is turned upside down through the loss of a loved one. Why does it have to take such pain or finality for us to value what we have and live our lives fully?
In 2002, I remember having conversations with clients regarding this very subject. For some, it was the post-9/11 period which had many question what their lives meant then and whether or not it was heading in the direction they had planned. For me it was at an earlier age, It was the summer after high school when I first informally touched the subject of 'a bucket list'. My crudely generated 'things to do before I die' set forth my bucket list (more on this later). I was on the verge of having my life unfold at the age of eighteen so I couldn't think of a more . The way I saw it- I had my whole life ahead of me- what did I want it to be? I've since refined my bucket list from its very simple beginning. I've modified it to define what type of father I want to be to my children. What type of husband. I've used it as the backdrop for my 'December thoughts' which is what I refer to at this time of year. I will look at my list , see if I've gotten closer and chart a path for the upcoming year.
In my corporate life, we called this the 'goal setting'. It doesn't have to be as formal as it sounds. Nor does it have to be final. It just has to be. I had the opportunity to watch the 2007 movie "Bucket List" with Academy Award winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. They play two terminally ill men who meet and strike up a most unusual relationship (a great movie BTW). Nicholson's character, Edward Cole has the most memorable line of the movie: "We live, we die, and the wheels on the bus go round and round". That line says alot about how some live their lives- full of regrets. Day-to-day. Why not change that?
So I pose this question to you. Will 2009 come and go and the wheels will go round and round or will you make it mean something? It shouldn't take a bad health report from a doctor's visit or any other tragic moment to have us realize what our lives mean to us and those around us. So what is on your bucket list?
Post your comments or email them to me. Would love to hear from you.
My circa 1983 "Things to Do Before I die List" in it's original form:
  • Sail across the Atlantic
  • Sail across the Pacific-done
  • Dive every major ocean (3 of 5)
  • Climb at least two major peaks 1-down 1 to go
  • Visit every major continent at least once (4 of 7)
    North America*
    South America*
  • Sail in a major yacht race- done a few times in different races
  • Be my own boss- done
  • Jump out of an airplane-done
As I stated, I've modified it since this original list. So every year I challenge myself.