Bucket lists aren’t just for retirement

In business, we always plan at least a quarter out, and often the strategic plan can extend five to ten years into the future. How about your life plan? What do you personally want to get accomplished in the next decade?

No, I am not endorsing Gantt charts and a financial feasibility study on your life plan, but a bucket list is a great start. A movie with the same name popularized the term. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman played two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.

I recently described my bucket list to a colleague in her 30’s at a dinner party. She was shocked and exclaimed she was way too young to have a bucket list. I disagree, without a list of goals in life, it’s less likely you’ll accomplish what you want to get done.

Will my list change? Of course! This summer, I had the opportunity to take an extended leave from corporate American and had planned to check off one to-do — a month-long RV trip through the western U.S. Luckily, my wife suggested we take this goal for a test drive and rent an RV for a weekend trip to ensure we really wanted to spend the summer on the road.

This is no different that any big project at work. We often pilot big changes before moving forward. I am so happy we ran a pilot on this vacation. Nothing went well, it was a very cumbersome, and even the dog seemed agitated with the “home” on wheels.

So, no RV trip. That is the beauty of a simple list of goals; it can change. We turned to my wife’s list and decided to conquer the remodeling of an old home. We wanted to do as much as possible ourselves. In the last month, we purchased a mid-century house and filled three dumpsters full of demolition debris. It wasn’t on my list, but it has been very freeing my spend my days with Katrina in grubby clothes, no suit needed. (Add in plenty of sweat and a few cuts and bruises.)

Reviewing our lists, my wife and I each include a variety of places to visit and vacation. When we write it down, we find a way to get to great places. I had a boss years ago who would say, “Plan your work; work your plan.” Why not apply the same theory to vacations and personal goals? As our lists grew, we also started thinking about who we wanted to spend time with. We spend most of our key holidays with family, carrying out years old traditions. (Sound familiar?) But, we learned we wanted more.

The joint list started to detail how much time a year we wanted to spend with friends and family. It was getting hard to fit in a career; I needed a job with more flexibility. The bucket list led to my current profession as an independent consultant and gave us the ability to live in the Kansas City. We’re now near family and simple plane ride from clients. Now, we see family every week. One more thing crossed off the list.

We spend a lot of time planning at work to ensure business thrive and continue to grow. Make sure you are also thriving and continuing to grow.

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