As we approach the end of the year, you know what question is headed your way.
“Any New Year’s resolutions?”
Does anyone actually stick to these things? I feel psyched about New Year’s resolutions for about two weeks before I start dodging people as they ask me how it’s going.
So for those who are a little sick of what resolutions have to offer, let me offer my New Years tradition:
Make a 2017 Bucket List instead.
Wait, don’t leave! I know, I know. Outside of someone learning they have three months to live, nobody follows through on bucket lists, but hear me out. I’m not talking about a list of experiences that sound like they’d be cool to do someday. I’m talking about a to-do list of fun and adventure that you can follow through with in one year.
My yearly bucket lists started only a couple years ago, after losing someone. I had the urge to do something that made me feel like I was taking advantage of life. So, on the heels of listening to the audiobook Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a novel about female WWII pilots that had me frozen on a street corner as the climax played out, I arranged to fly a plane. When the plane lifted off the ground and I had a front row seat to the world falling behind, I felt invincible.
Afterward, I realized I didn’t want to slip back into the mindset of, “There are some things I’d love to do…one day.” And so, the yearly bucket list was born.
If you want to create a 2017 Bucket List for yourself, here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Choose one big thing to accomplish.
Choose one significant thing that is achievable in the next year. This is one of those things you might find on your big, lifelong bucket list. Something you’ll be excited to tell people about a long time from now. Being achievable may mean a lot of things, but it definitely means picking something in your control and something specific. It might be a trip, an experience, or a milestone. If you’re stuck for ideas, search through Groupon or Living Social, or brainstorm with friends.
2. Fill the rest of your bucket list with smaller, fun things.
You’ve chosen the item that will take the most commitment in terms of planning, time, money, resources, or bravery. To make this all achievable in a year, fill the rest with things that could be done in a day or on a weekend. Always wanted to play messy paint Twister? Always wishing you’d take the time to put together a picnic and relax at the beach for the day? Constantly forgetting about that annual movie in the park thing a couple towns over? Stick ’em on there.
3. Keep the list short enough you can easily accomplish it all.
If you make a list of 100 activities, eventually, you’re going to give up. You might keep up the stamina for a little while, but if finishing is impossible, there’s no reason to push yourself to finish. I aim for about ten ideas I love but wouldn’t normally think to do. You can always keep a backup master idea list if you accomplish your list earlier than expected and want more, but keep the real commitment within reach.
4. Plan everything right at the get go.
And here is the secret sauce. Bucket lists get forgotten because it’s so easy to say, “Not now. Someday. Later.” But you have one year. How much do these things cost? Where can you do them? How might they fit into your schedule? If you figure these things out right at the start, you’re entering January knowing if you need to start saving money, planning vacation time, or buying tickets while prices are lower. The big event will require the most foresight, but don’t leave out the smaller ones. When you’re ready to pick something from your list, make it easy: have a website saved, have figured out which stores have what you need, think about who might come along for the ride. That way, adventure will always be at your fingertips.
I’ve found the bucket lists not only make sure I end each year with wonderful memories and feeling grateful, but also have made me more willing to take risks in general.
Remember, it’s not the adventure that finds the person, it’s the person that finds the adventure.
And on that note, Happy New Year! What are some items you’d like to have on your 2017 Bucket List?
If you like a dash of inspiration in your posts, you may also enjoy Create the World You Want to See or Collecting and Connecting – Two Years of Interviews.