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I don’t know about you but I loved the movie titled The Bucket List. The term you’re familiar with, I’m sure. A list of activities, experiences or destinations you want to try or visit yourself before you literally kick the bucket. It’s a great concept but unfortunately, it’s not resonating with enough of us early enough and I believe we have to reframe our perspective and truly let go of our bucket list.
Problem with the Bucket List
A bucket list sounds cool but yet many of us don’t have one. We’re wonderful at denying we’ll continue to age and it’s easy to dismiss. We create one when we suspect our time is limited, like a significant life event that shakes us to our core. Sometimes, and worst of all, we never get around to creating one, let alone go after completing anything on what ultimately should be our best to-do list.
Maybe you think it’s something to do when you retire, and although it is getting here really fast, it feels like a lifetime away… you’ll get to it. You may believe you are too busy, and unfortunately, you may focus on and unintentionally prioritize all of life’s responsibilities and busyness ahead of your own interests and fun.
When you think of a bucket list, you may also envision people bungee jumping, riding a camel in the desert or visiting a beautiful exotic location like Tahiti. You may feel it’s too abstract or too big of a concept. That it’s ginormous and you can’t even begin to deal with this now, so it’s easier to just not deal with it today.
The problem is the “not today” for too many people turns in to too many days and before you know it, you’ve been so busy with your head down climbing the corporate ladder and taking care of everyone else, sometimes at your own expense.
You may have had to focus on different priorities before but what I hope you eventually realize is that you may NOT have a lifetime. None of us are not guaranteed a tomorrow, let alone a healthy one, and we cannot know for certainty how physically, mentally and financially healthy we will be in those days ahead.
Ditch the Bucket List, Reframe and Create a Live It NOW List
Especially if you’re over 50, and heck even if you’re over 40, I believe you should abandon the idea of a bucket list and let it go. Don’t define a bucket list as something off in the distant future.
Instead start figuring out a way to weave in new adventures, new experiences and new travel destinations to fuel your happiness NOW. Into your every day, every week or every month. To NOT wait until you successfully deal with all of your fires or responsibilities.
As you already figured out, there will always be responsibilities tugging on you and your time, and at this point in our lives, we have to pause in our 40, 50 & 60s and really decide our next steps. Maybe you’ve raised your children and are just starting to bring back a little more play time into your daily living but you may have aging parents yet to deal with or other family challenges, health issues, whatever.
There will always be a reason to keep your nose to the grindstone, to focus first on getting it done and postpone playing or spending more time doing what you really enjoy, and I’m not advocating you abandon your responsibilities and hope for the best, but what I’m instead suggesting is a reframing activity. Stop thinking of this concept in terms of a far-away bucket list and instead look at it in a different light.
Start looking at it as a Live It NOW list in which you start taking mini vacations more frequently and that you start prioritizing your mental, emotional and physical health at a very critical time in our aging lives. As much as I hate to admit it, my body and my changing eyesight reminds me daily and often that I am actually aging and that I’m not 39 anymore…..not even “just a few years beyond” 39. So while it may be intimidating to try something new today, there’s a pretty good chance it may be more difficult if you wait and try it again in another 1 to 2 to 5 years from now. Our bodies are changing faster sometimes than we desire.
There is good news in that there is so much joy to be had by focusing on you and your happiness now each day. To more regularly focus on having more getaways or new places to visit or new experiences to try, and not once or twice a year, and really fill your happiness bucket now and make life much more fulfilling.
Redefine Adventure and Live More Curiously
So now it’s time to think more about what you want and create your own Live It NOW List. To commit to explore more, to adventure more, to live with less judgment and to live more curiously.
Any time you try something new — take a pottery class, start learning a new language, try hiking for the first time, you are intentionally living curiously, removing judgment and focusing on the fun, while also improving your overall health. It’s not expensive to take a few hours to catch up with friends as you walk along a beach, hiking trail, or path in a local park. It’s not hard to hop in the car and drive 50 minutes to spend time at a favorite museum. It’s not expensive to take a yoga class at the regional arboretum or public gardens or to try a painting class at your local recreation center.
You also don’t have to give up on your dream 14 day Alaskan cruise idea. You can start planning for the longer term, larger experiences or trips you wish to take in the not-too-far future but you can also prioritize and dedicate time right now to going after activities and endeavors that are smaller in scale. To experiences that create new fun memories and more easily fit into your professional and personal schedule.
By committing to living more curiously and choosing fun over any possible fear of failure, your life can be filling up right now with these types of soul-enriching activities and experiences. By continuing to try new foods, activities, travel destinations, hobbies, etc, you’re prioritizing your fun and I encourage you to think of “adventure” in broader terms. Adventure beyond what you know now and try something new.
Warning: It’s Addictive and You Should Play on Repeat
What’s even better is that if you’re newly dipping your toe in the water here and just starting to weave in more fun, I think you’ll become positively addicted — and in a really good way! All of this makes me want it even MORE and it helps me focus on good daily health habits to keep me moving, to eating the right foods and resting so I can literally spend as many days as possible while I’m on this planet on a bicycle, a mountain trail, a beach at sunrise or sunset, on my snowboard and who knows what else.
For me, at 53, I am constantly looking to what I can try and experience before I age another day.
In the past few years, I tried and love car camping, mountain biking, cross country skiing and winter hiking. I am trying to get better at meditating, I started gluten-free cooking and I planted my first vegetable garden. All of it has been awesome and it would be terrible to have missed any of it.
It’s not always pretty and it didn’t all work out in real life 100% like I saw it in my head, but living with intention, curiosity and fun is a game changer. I hope I’ve convinced you to ditch your bucket list and refocus on building your Live It NOW List and going after your fun. Your present and future self will thank you for it and you’ll show up each morning a little bit happier for your family and friends.
I hope you join me in my quest to be the insta-famous face at age 94 walking on a balance beam or hiking on a trail that blows everyone’s mind, and I also hope you can forecast with all confidence that when they interview us and ask what’s left on our bucket list, I hope we both can honestly say, “nothing.”
Want more inspiration, ideas or how-to steps to start adventuring more after 40? To have more fun NOW? Download your free Live It NOW List Starter and subscribe to connect with our community of fun-loving adventure souls.