How Writing a Bucket List Saved Me From Debilitating Wanderlust

What if I told you, that stashed deep within the recesses of your mind, is a metaphorical roadmap that can gingerly coax you towards living an exuberant and fulfilling life? Even more unbelievable than that, it is tailored towards your particular passions and goals, taking nothing into account beyond what gets you out of bed in the morning.  To many, the idea of a bucket list is not only cliche but elderly in the specification.  Yet, that conclusion could not be more off.  What is the point of crafting a bucket list in your enfeebled age, when you are no longer able nor willing to accomplish the lost dreams from your younger years?  It is imperative that you craft your personal list, and now, in order for the benefits of this list to follow you throughout your formative years, and into adulthood and beyond.

I finally put pen to paper while understandably intoxicated on my 24th birthday.  When I woke up, searching for water and then for answers, I was pretty amazed by what I had come up with.  It wasn’t just a list with seemingly irrelevant and pointlessly dangerous tasks that I’d never have the gumption to attempt, it was… a culmination of everything that I wanted to be, as both a man and as a human being.  While I don’t want to reveal the entirety of the list, it ranged from personal objectives such as starting a family and falling in love, to physical accomplishments like thru-hiking a long distance trail, and dog sledding within the Arctic circle.  Even my list wasn’t strong enough to resist the temptation of some of the more cliche objectives, such as running with the bulls, and skydiving, but for each objective lies numerous reasons, these not being an exception.

What made my the hair on my hungover body stand upright, however, was the big picture of this list.  Reading the list, I saw an image of a man yet unmet.  I saw a quantifiably quintessential version of myself, the man that I was striving to be.  I realized at that very moment, that nothing on the list was impossible to accomplish, just much like life, requires the necessary planning and effort necessary.  If I met a man, who said that he had accomplished everything on my list, I would be absolutely floored.  I would worship the ground he skips across because I would think that there is no way that I could ever live this interesting and purposeful of a life.  Yet, if one breaks down their list, and strives to accomplish only a single item per year, the dividends this pays off will propel you through life, and thus, on to the next task.  It is in this sense that a bucket list isn’t so much a list of things you desire to do, but a comprehensive compilation of purposeful endeavors tailored made to fit you.

Drafting a physical list is the first step towards actually accomplishing your dreams, but you actually have to put forth effort in order to craft a meaningful life ensemble.  We, as the dreaded millennials, are overall pretty poor at this.  We spend about an hour a day browsing Instagram or Twitter dreaming about what we could do.  But the inconvenient truth is that 99% of us do nothing save for scrolling our thumbs melodically up and down.  We’re a generation of dreamers, not doers, more so than any generation who has come before us.  I’ll probably never make it as a professional mountain guide, and I have come to accept that fact.  In this acceptance, I have found comfort in knowing that it’s not necessarily about being something you’re not, it’s about being the best possible version of yourself, and then simply seeing where life’s many turns take you.

Writing this list will not make you happy, it will make you feel enamored.  It will give you some semblance of purpose, and drive, in an otherwise chaotic and uncontrollable world.  The list will serve as stepping stones to a greater purpose in your life.  What that purpose is, though, only you know.

Suggested Parameters for your List:

Do not make it too long. I imagined how many able-bodied years I have left, and came up with a list size of fifty, which I think is accomplishable, though possibly a bit larger than it needs to be.

Leave half of the list blank. This may seem counterintuitive to what I just finished writing, but the nature of life dictates changes in your personality, outlook, and desires.  You will be a different person in five, and ten years, and your goals and bucket list items should reflect that. Leave half blank, and fill them in when you need to.  You will know if something is worth being on the list.

Do not share your list with anyone else. Again, I seemingly broke my own rule, but it is scientifically proven that social recognition actually makes us less likely to accomplish our goals.  Do it for you, not for “them”.

Keep one hard copy, and one digital copy with you at all times. If you are ever feeling lost, jaded, downtrodden, or misguided, take a gander at your list.  Pick something that is the easiest, and feasible, and set forth a plan to accomplish it within the year. You’ll likely find that alone can lift you from your slump. It does no good to have a list you cannot find.

Let us know if you’ve written a list, and how you think it’s impacted your life thus far.  Talk to your older relatives as well, see if they have one and where they’re at with it, you will find either positive or negative answer to be equally as motivating.

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