Bucket lists are very popular these days, and for a good reason. Collecting your goals, dreams and aspirations all in one place is a powerful exercise that leaves you feeling excited and inspired! This post challenges you to make your own bucket list – but with a twist. We are moving that deadline up – and asking you to make a list of thirty things to do by your thirtieth birthday.
Why create a Thirty by Thirty List?
As The Bucket List Guy at http://www.thebucketlistguy.com says: “A Bucket List creates intention and where intention goes, energy flows.” Your list should be a source of inspiration and it should excite you each time you look at it. It can help you stay on track when you are feeling unmotivated and provide focus when you are feeling scattered.
There is value in all steps of this process. First, you set aside time to explore what you truly want, making an investment in your future self. You also take action through writing down goals, dreams and aspirations that are personally meaningful. Finally the deadline of your thirtieth birthday will hold you accountable and keep your momentum going as you check off items from your list as you move towards this milestone birthday.
Having your thirtieth birthday as a deadline sparks you to take action in the present. The typical bucket list implies a deadline of when you “kick the bucket”. While it’s great to have goals that span your lifetime – using death as a deadline provides a challenge in concrete timing (when will that be?) and motivation (if I have 50+ years to accomplish this…why would I start today?). If you have five years, two years or even a single year – the urgency around this hard deadline will prompt you to take action now.
This is not a To Do List!
In life coaching we focus on results, actions, evaluations and becomings (who you become) instead of tasks and to-do’s. (You can read more about what a life coach actually is here). Although checking items off a list can make you feel productive in the moment – this feeling is fleeting as more items are constantly added to the list.
As you curate your Thirty By Thirty List – focus on actions you can take, results you can get, and the characteristics of the person you wish to become. For example, instead of putting “start a business” on your list, include something like: “be an entrepreneur”. Becomings are rich in fulfillment and contentment and create long lasting personal characteristics and growth. While it’s okay to have some checkbox-ticking items (Such as “drink champagne in Paris on my 29th birthday”) keep the emphasis on results you wish to see and who you want to become.
Where do you start?
Inspiration for bucket lists is abundant on Pinterest and the Internet at large, but I would suggest starting with some personal reflection. Ask yourself the following questions and see if anything pops up:
- As a child, where did you think you would be by your thirtieth birthday? Does any aspect of this vision still resonate with you?
- What is something you wished you had accomplished in your teens or early twenties that you could accomplish now?
- What is one thing that would make your thirties easier? Could you start this now and complete a portion of it by your thirtieth?
- Ask the elders in your life what the highlight of their twenties was. Is there anything you can apply to your own life?
- Comb through New Year’s Resolutions from previous years. Is there a common theme or factor to your resolutions? What is this pattern telling you? While I wouldn’t suggest adding previous resolutions to your bucket list – goals you haven’t reached can be telling about personal challenges and expectations.
Focus on creating balance
Focus on building balance in your life through your list. There were probably items that popped into your head right away when you started this exercise. If you still have room on your list after exploring the questions above, focus on creating balance in your life with any remaining items.
Look at the different spheres of your life including: Career, Family, Finance, Relationships, Health, Hobbies, Physical Environment and Spirituality. Assign each category a number between 1 – 10 indicating your level of fulfillment with 1 being “completely unfulfilled” and 10 being “I feel GREAT about this area”. Identify the areas that need the most attention. What could you do to increase that number by two or three points by your thirtieth birthday? How good would your life feel if you felt you had improved in that area?
This list doesn’t just need to focus on who you want to be – it can also include how you want to make a difference in the world. How can you impact your community and give back? Add these items to your list as well!
Evaluate your list
Evaluation and honest feedback is important for creating a list that is both realistic and exciting. Is it the right balance between reasonable action and challenging items? Keep in mind your current schedule, other priorities and the amount of time you have between now and your thirtieth. If you break down the items on your list, how many months/weeks/days do you reasonably need for each?
Is there any item on your list that you are less excited about than the others? What was your thought process when you placed this item on the list? Does it fall into the “should do” category? There might be an underlying belief or emotion that is prompting your thoughts and actions here.
Take a final look at each item on your list. Do you have a plan or approach for each? What resources will you need to draw on and what skills or abilities might you need to acquire or improve? Imagine who you would become if you accomplished everything you have set out for yourself…the potential is there!
At the end of this exercise you should be left with a hand-picked list of items that leaves you inspired and excited. Hopefully you will have a focus for what you wish to accomplish in the remainder of your twenties, as well as a clear idea for how to get there. I want you to arrive at your thirtieth birthday with a collection of moments, skills and abilities – not things. I would love to see the top five items from your list – feel free to post them in the comments below!