It seems a bit silly to be writing about bucket lists so many weeks after New Year’s Resolution-time. However, making and using a bucket list is not a seasonal activity… plus I’ve been too busy with getting things done on mine to spend time writing about them!
The idea of bucket lists are so well known at this point that it’s become a bit cliché. I scoffed at making one for years. I knew what I wanted, why bother writing it down? Why not just grab opportunities as they arise, or do fun and new things as you are able?
But then I read “The Five Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, followed up by a number of blogs, articles, and scientific studies, all of which described logical reasons to make a bucket list. As it turns out, buckets lists are excellent tools for moving beyond dreaming and hoping. When you write down your goals, you are significantly more likely to achieve them. No matter how simple or how out-there they are, jotting them down helps you to commit yourself to doing it, and not just dismissing it as silly or impossible.
Even more effective are lists that include the expected cost of the goal. This simple step changes ideas into plans, and impossible dreams into potential reality. The budgeted figure does not need to be exact, but it does need to be reasonable. Now instead of saying to yourself “someday I will travel to Paris,” you begin to say “as soon as I’ve saved $4000 I will travel to Paris.” This also will affect your likelihood of saving that money and devoting it towards the goal. Instead of impulse buying or blowing it on many smaller things, by keeping that goal and figure in the back of your mind you will make more conscious decisions on spending. This in turn will make it much more likely that you will save up enough to take that vacation, instead of continuing to say with a sigh “if only I could afford it.”
If you are really ambitious, you can make a savings plan, which is even more effective in getting that bucket list done. For example, to save enough for my bucket list item of learning to surf, I need $150. I would like to be able to do this in the summer. If I save a mere $25 for six months, I will be able to achieve this. For larger budget items such as my dream trip to Turkey, I aim to save $200 per month for two years. This kind of planning makes such expensive goals feel obtainable – because they are! While I will never have an extra several-thousand dollars laying around without planning ahead, I know I can save a moderate amount each month until I can accumulate enough.
While most people don’t make a bucket list on a real bucket, I am using the bucket as an additional savings tool. By paying cash for as much as possible and saving the change (no matter what! Even if a bill is $10.04, forking over $11 and putting the change aside) I can painlessly save a surprising amount over a short time. All coins go in the bucket. This method alone will likely save the amount (and on time!) that I need for those surfing lessons.
My bucket list is already working for me. I have always wanted to experience a spa day with full body massage. I had passed up several opportunities, and never honestly considered indulging in such luxury. Until I wrote it down, that is. This gave me the motivational boost I needed to put aside a bit of cash for this purpose, and schedule a treatment. How satisfying it was, too, not just for the relaxing benefits of the massage, but because in doing so I achieved the first thing on my list!