Live with purpose: Stick it on the bucket list! 

bucket list

These are turbulent times, collectively but also for me personally. Last year I went through significant life changes, and this year I turn 40. The combination of these two factors has, at times, sent me into a state of total panic. But in quieter moments, the sense of momentous change has forced me to evaluate my life and inspired me to create my first bucket list. 

A bucket list collects the experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have had or accomplished during their lifetime. I guess the keyword in that is ‘hope.’ Not all of the items on a bucket list will necessarily be ticked off, but that’s not the point; while you have things to aim for, your life has direction.  

The benefit for me of creating my own bucket list was that it forced me to look at the life I currently have and envisage the life I’d like to be able to have, and say I have had. My bucket list is providing me with tremendous motivation, and if it goes well it could end up pushing me well outside of my comfort zone, but overall, it is empowering me to take control of the narrative. 

Even just beginning to research bucket list ideas was hugely inspiring. After a phase where normal life has come at me with a set of challenges, looking at what kind of life I want to have lived has helped me to appreciate my own moral compass, and decide the values I want to be at the forefront when making decisions –including small everyday decisions.  

When I first thought of starting a bucket list, my mind immediately jumped to all those daring activities only the nutters* in life do, like flinging themselves out of a plane, bungee jumps, climbing mountains or swimming with sharks. These are all cool things in their own way, of course, but the things on a bucket list can sometimes be far more straightforward, such as achieving a career goal, setting up a business or gaining a degree. More personal items might include reaching specific life milestones like having a family, and many people want to experience new things through travel. 

Ok, so here goes: My list includes running a marathon (which is booked), going on safari, volunteering in an African school, and one that has been a childhood dream, travelling to Borneo to hold a baby Orangutan. I’ve been really interested in asking friends what’s on their lists too. These have included travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia, braving a New Year’s Day Sea swim, trying a saltwater sauna, learning the piano and taking a hot air balloon ride.

The older I get and the longer the pandemic continues, the more I seem to be getting reminders of just how short life is and how quickly things can change in the blink of an eye. Paradoxically, it’s learning to appreciate the happiness in the present moment that is helping me to get excited about my bucket list. In a sense, it won’t matter if I never make it to Borneo or drop out of the marathon at the twenty-first mile; the important thing is that I have goals, and a direction, and a sense of taking control amidst all the turbulence and uncertainty.

*one of the values in my moral compass is telling the truth; and I honestly do think that anyone who dares to go bungee-jumping is a nutter. No offence…

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