I remember writing my first list in 2002. At the time, it was solace in a life that was not going according to plan. Some events during my junior year of college ended up changing my career plans- and I really had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Long story short: I had planned on a career in law enforcement. But then, in college, I got into some trouble with law enforcement, which I thought would be a non-starter for someone wanting to go into law enforcement. We could Monday morning quarterback the hell out of whether that was actually true. But for me, a 21 year old kid who had never been in trouble, I thought my career was over before it started.
I was living in a shitty studio apartment on the edge of FSU’s campus in Tallahassee, Florida and working two jobs, struggling with what to do next. All I knew was that all the things I wanted to do with my life- the non-career stuff, seemed so far away when I was struggling to pay rent. I got really sick that year (in the fall-winter of 2002-2003) and ended a three year relationship with a guy who had a different idea about what we were than I did.
I remember being really frustrated, thinking that it sucked that things weren’t going the way they were supposed to because I had, for all intents and purposes, done things “the right way”. Went to college, double-majored, graduated with honors, early, played by the rules-which included not being a “mess.” The life list helped me, because in creating it, I was recognizing and recording the things that I wanted to do. It assuaged my stress at not being able to do these things, while getting me to think about what kind of career I would need to support checking items off this list.
Since then, the list has changed; I have added things and taken things off the list. What I have come to realize is that there are three main things to consider when you add or subtract items to your bucket list.
Why do YOU WANT to do the things on your list?
There are lots of reasons that items get added to our life’s to-do list. You’re listening to a radio story and think, “That sounds pretty cool, I’d like to see that.” It could be that for you, there is some substantial meaning in accomplishing a task. Doing that task will make you a college graduate or a published author. Or maybe you inherit some item from a parent or a grandparent. There is nothing wrong with that- doing something in someone’s honor, because they never got around to it. Or sometimes you just want to do a thing because it would mean a lot to a loved one.
For example, one of the first things that Dave (my husband) and I did when we started dating was see the Cubs play in the National League Championship Series game at the old ProPlayer stadium in South Florida. We were in those first heady days of a new relationship- where we couldn’t get enough of each other.
We drove 8 hours to Miami, for a date, essentially, less than a month after we started dating. It was then that I added “See the Cubs Win the Series Live” to my life list. I just knew that I would love to be with Dave in Wrigley when they won the series. Of course, I didn’t really have a great grasp of what that meant- the series of events that would have to fall into place for that to happen.
How much control do you have over the things you WANT to do?
There are some things that we decide to do, which are simply a matter of grinding it out- committing the time or putting the work in. These include things like learning a skill or a foreign language or running a marathon. These items require commitment to the cause and regular effort- be it weekly or daily or more often.
But, there other items are largely outside of our control. Wanting to see the Cubs win the Series Live has a major requirement: it requires the Cubs to be good.
I know, right? LOL!!
Except, not really right now. In the last two years, the Cubs have been brilliant. At no point since 2003 have my chances of seeing the Cubs win the series Live been THIS GOOD. Honestly, I don’t wanna jinx it, but they are so good right now. I mean, how could you watch the video below and not want it to happen?
IT MIGHT HAPPEN THIS YEAR.
Take a deep breath…
Let’s remember that in order for me to see them win the series (LIVE), they need to first, get to the series. For argument’s sake, let’s just say that is going to happen.
Because I want to see this happen live, I am going to need to be at the game when they win it- which is the tricky part. World Series tickets don’t just grow on trees. Even if I could get them, they would likely be much more expensive than a responsible person (such as myself) could probably afford. Assuming I could pinpoint the exact game when the Cubs win the series, it would be very expensive to be there (and I am not at that place in my life to afford it).
Because I can’t tell the future, I would have to buy tickets to games 4, 5, 6, and 7, to ensure that I am in the stadium when the Cubs win. Worse, I would also have to plan to travel to away games- in the event that they win on the road. GAHHHHHH!! Why couldn’t I have been a trust fund baby!!!
Really, I have very little control or agency over seeing the Cubs win the Series, which makes this item a bad life list item for me. But for someone who has more financial resources- this isn’t unreasonable. That is the cool thing about life lists- is what might seem like an insurmountable item for one person is a done deal for someone else. You might have the time, but need the money. You might have the money, but need the time. You might have neither the time or the money, but you have the know-how. Or you might have time and money and know how to get the know how, you just haven’t put a plan into action.
In what ways will accomplishing life list items CHANGE YOU?
There are the things that we want to do, because we will benefit from the process of doing them. Running a marathon- means, probably becoming a runner. Learning french will put you in a good place for a big fun trip to France. Maybe learning to code will help you get a better job.
But, there are some things that we want to do that really won’t change us. They won’t impact our lives in any meaningful way. We want to add these items to our collection of experiences.
There is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing that says you have to grow and become a better person with all the items on your life list. If I got to see the Cubs win the Series Live, would it make me a better person? A smarter person? A more disciplined person? A better mother? A better athlete? No.
Might it be something I remember when I have misjudged the distance of the last step on a set of stairs when when my life flashes before my eyes?
Yes. Yes, it will.