Everyone talks about their bucket list--an assortment of theoretical experiences that they want to have before they "kick the bucket". In some ways, a bucket list can remind you of goals and keep you motivated, but assembling a list of what you want to do before you die also puts you under a lot of pressure. How do you know what should be on your list, and more importantly, how do you go about getting what you want out of life?
For almost a decade, I have traveled and studied what causes successful people to lead more fun, remarkable and adventurous lives. Checking off activities and places from a list doesn't make a person is successful or happy.
However, bucket lists have their benefits. As an entrepreneur, they can help you reflect on your business and what you need to do for yourself to make it a success. As someone who is just trying to build their career or understand what they want to do, a bucket list can help you reflect on your life and what you want from it.
However, no matter how you plan to use your list, you need to design it with these two points in mind.
1. Balance your needs and desires.
Bucket lists should not just be daring activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. They should include your aspirations and be somewhat realistic. First, you need to ask: Who do you want to be and who do you need to be? Then, how do you accomplish it?
For example, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you'll need to be an extraordinary leader for your startup company. A bucket list should have experiences that will help you develop those leadership skills.
When I founded my first startup, I had to figure out how to fund a project that would cost a small fortune, and I had to do it over the course of 8 months. If I had any chance of success, I knew that I would have to strengthen my skills as a super connector and understand how to connect with important people in ways that were memorable.
Figure out what you need to do to get closer to your goals and what experiences will help you get there. For instance, if you need to pitch and raise money, hone your presentation skills at pitch offs or events like Postmasters Toastmasters.
2. Don't focus on things.
Stop viewing bucket lists as an assortment of things that you want to do. Instead, they should reflect the type of person that you want to be. Do you want to be the leader of a Fortune 500 company in the next five years? Do you want to be someone who faces their fears head-on or someone who lives in the moment?
If your bucket list seems like a random assortment of activities, then it probably doesn't reflect who you are and what matters the most to you. Far more important than specific experiences, is the person you will become from them. What lessons will you learn?
The true gift of an adventure is that the person that you become at the end is fundamentally different from the person you were when you started.
There is nothing wrong with having a bucket list of stuff that you want to do. I've traveled to all seven continents, participated in Running of the Bulls and plunged into freezing Antarctic waters. The important question to ask yourself is not what you want to do before you die, but who do you want to be?