Imagine you’ve just received the news that you will die by the end of 2016. Would this cause you to make any changes to how you’re currently living your life? If the answer is yes, ask yourself: why should it take something this drastic for you to take action and live your life the way you were always supposed to?
At the beginning of this year, a group of friends and I got together to write our bucket lists of things we wanted to do before popping our clogs. Some of the goals were to meet one person from every country on the planet, go sky diving, take a helicopter ride, to walk on top of the Great Wall of China, visit New Zealand and other feats of that nature. It all sounded great but I had to stop and ask myself why we were expressing our desires in the distant future sense? If what we had written would truly make us feel alive and bring us a sense of accomplishment, why were we not taking steps to fulfil them now? Bucket lists shouldn’t be seen as end-of-life goals but something that we should seek to incorporate into our everyday living. Obviously if you are saving for goals that require large amounts of money, that’s different; you are taking definite steps towards your dreams. But sadly, many never consider taking action until it is far too late.
Pay attention to your dreams
Bucket lists can speak of great adventures or of simply taking control of our lives. We hate our jobs but we stay in them for decades because we want the security of a regular pay check even though we are withering away inside; we stay in toxic relationships far longer than we should; we don’t pursue great opportunities because we talk ourselves into believing that we don’t have what it takes to do so, we spend far too much time living for the approval of other people, etc. Millions trundle along living a magnolia existence and complain about it every day, but don’t do anything to change it! Whether this is because we tell ourselves that we have many years ahead of us and so our true desires can wait, or we are too afraid to step into the unknown, it’s such a shame to spend our entire lives doing everything other than what truly burns within our hearts.
You DO have the courage to go for it!
It’s very interesting that when confronted with our mortality, all the reasons we’ve held onto for why we can’t do something suddenly melt away. Somehow we lose our fear of people; we develop a sense of boldness and courage that had previously evaded us and we start make definite plans to fulfil our long held dreams. That tells me that we already have within us all the boldness and courage that we need to live a life without limitations, but we need to bring it out. It doesn’t have to be something life threatening, it can be as simple as deciding to just go after what we really want instead of living our lives in the shadows. Maybe we’ll live for another 70 years, maybe we won’t. But regardless we need to live as intentionally and passionately now as we would when suddenly faced with an end of life date.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
They say that the last words uttered by a loved one are of great importance. Sometimes they may give instructions on how they want their estate to be dispersed; other times they may share their hopes, prayers and dreams for our future, or they may reveal deep, troubling thoughts and feelings that they had previously kept to themselves. The latter was the case with my father in 2007, as I sat by his hospital bed watching him continue his fight against leukaemia.
In the final conversation I had with my father he shared his deep regret of not taking more risks in his life, of not trusting his instincts more, of not taking advantage of a number of opportunities he’d had because of fear and (unnecessary) expectations that had been placed upon him throughout his life. When faced with the news that he could die, suddenly he found the strength to shake off his fears and make plans to pursue his goals with everything he had. But it was too late; he died shortly after.
Our bucket lists tend to be the deeper desires of our heart that need to be given expression. Remember how you felt in the past when you fulfilled a dream or ambition? It started off as a desire and when it came to pass you felt fantastic; your confidence levels went through the roof and you felt you could take on the world! You still can! What if instead of waiting for some future date we started to interweave our lists into our everyday existence; how much more fulfilled would we be?! How much more alive would we feel? Monday mornings wouldn’t seem so terrible now, would they!
Live your bucket list now!
So what am I saying? I’m giving you a friendly challenge to empty your bucket list! When you have a few moments to spare take a good look at it. How many things can you bring forward? A third of it? A half? All of it?? Start making definite plans on how you are actually going to accomplish all the things that you really want to do and GO FOR IT! Being alive is the greatest adventure that there is – make every moment count!