Mental Health Moment | The Bucket List
Oct 05, 2022
What are you looking forward to? If you can, name something that you’re looking forward to in the very near future (within 3 months), in the semi-near future (within the next year) and something that’s longer-term. If you can’t think of anything, start putting together your own personal bucket list, of things you’d like to do in your lifetime, and start working your way through that list, little by little.
We all need to have something to look forward to. It gives us a sense of hope, and shows us there’s something in our future that we’re going to enjoy. One thing the elderly struggle with is not having something to plan for or give them a light at the end of the tunnel. When we start focusing just on the current day, and not looking for ways to grow, expand, or experience new things, we can stagnate. This is a cause of mid-life crisis, where we find ourselves possibly in long-term relationships that aren’t changing, in a job we’ve done repeatedly for years, and with kids whose routines keep us busy with activities that we manage over and over. Without something new to learn, or some positive experience to look forward to, we can start to feel like the way our life is now… is the way it’s always going to be.
Knowing that there are an unlimited number of experiences and people out there, and knowing you have the ability to be part of it all, should give you a sense of hope. There’s something new, there are great experiences to be had, and there are people you will enjoy that you haven’t yet met. But when we allow ourselves to fall into the routine of just taking care of today, and repeating it again tomorrow, we stop growing and we stop allowing ourselves to have new experiences.
Sit down and start a brainstorming list. You may come up with 100 things that you think would be great to do in your lifetime. Then start narrowing that list to those that are achievable – realistic goals are necessary, because you can actually plan them and start looking forward to them. Narrow your list to a number that makes sense for you – the younger you are, maybe the more activities you’ll have time to achieve. Or, if you’re retired, maybe you now have all the time in the world and you can start really going through some great experiences. No matter where you are in life, make a list, narrow it down, make it realistic and achievable, and then prioritize your list in the order you think you may want to start crossing things off.
I’m a little older in life, though certainly not at the end (I hope). I still have a list of things I want to do, and I’m still working my way through them. In about a month I’m going to take off on a multi-week train trip, in a sleeper car, seeing the whole country without having to drive myself. With the time to relax now, I’ll work a little but I’ll mostly be able to kick back, let someone else drive, take in the scenery, enjoy the fancy dining car or room service, and really just “be” on the trip without worrying about hurrying to a destination. This is something that’s been on my bucket list, and I’m now doing it. Another thing I’ve got on the list is a hot-air balloon ride, and once I get over my fear of heights, and falling to my death, I’ll probably do it.
So what’s on your list? And what do you have in your life to look forward to in just the next few months? How about over the course of this upcoming year? And then, 2-5 years, and beyond that? Start planning because planning can also be a really enjoyable part of any adventure. What have you always wanted to learn that you can set an actual goal of accomplishing? For me, it’s American Sign Language. I’ve always wanted to learn, but have not ever really had any “reason” to do so, so I haven’t done it. But I’ve decided recently that I’m going to begin the process. Any time we’re learning something new, we’re growing, and we’ve set goals to get to a certain point of knowledge – that’s something to work toward, and something to look forward to.
If you find yourself stagnant, just going through the motions every day, over and over, try sitting down and brainstorming your own list. And then pick one for the next few months, even if it’s something small. It could be a day trip, a hike, time spent with someone you don’t get to see often enough, etc., or it could be something bigger that you really have to work toward. Whatever it is that’s best for you and your life, start the list and start to plan. Set time goals, as well, if you want to be sure and do things by certain times in your future life. No matter what, though, enjoy life as you go, add in positive experiences, start setting the goals and working toward them, and always, always, make sure you have something to look forward to.