NaDR’s Bucket List Challenge

Recently, one of my blogging friends over at Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal posted a piece about her bucket list; it seemed a happy coincidence that she would post about something which is so integral to the problems I’m having right now, and I decided to incorporate it into a post I was going to make at some point anyway. Bit of a warning: I maaaay have sworn a few times in the following…

Here’s the thing: I have a bucket list. I’ve had a bucket list for about 5 or 6 years, and that bucket is fucking huge – not only huge, but the handle is gilt and the pail is carved marble. The contents look something like this:

  • Have babies. Lots of babies. Love them all and be SuperMom.
  • Be a great (vegetarian) cook in order to provide brilliant meals for my family. Almost an oxymoron in itself.
  • Wear dresses and look stylish all the time.
  • Finish my book, submit it to an agent, get published and become an appreciated author.
  • Be one of the best sculpted novelty cake artists in the country.
  • Go into property development and reinvest constantly until I have enough capital to buy a house, either outright or with very little mortgage, and have leftover to begin investing anew. Continue to invest until I have enough money to actually build my own house.
  • Set up and own a jazz bar.
  • Raise enough money to build a well in every village in Africa, and generally do unfeasible amounts of charity work and change the world.
  • Set up a zoo. A fucking zoo, people.

So I’m guessing you’re beginning to see my point. That’s one heavy bucket. I’ve been dragging it around for years without getting any closer to slaking my thirst. The fact is – and I’ll defend this in the comments – all of those things are possible. But for any one person to achieve even one, let alone all of them is incredibly unlikely; among the billions of people on the planet, there are those who can lay claim to one of the achievements above, but they number in their hundreds, and even being generous, in terms of percentage of the population they don’t even register.

So for me, my bucket list has actually been a hindrance; it is full of weighty desires which are heavily connected with my unhealthy desire to impress people [link to follow… once I’ve written a post on this!], and at the moment I feel like every one requires an amount of money, whether for new clothes, cookery courses or baby supplies, and this is something that I just don’t have right now. Having this gorgeous, enticing, ambrosia-filled bucket is torture because I am constantly thinking about it but never experiencing the joy the achievements would bring.

However, for all of that I am glad NaDR encouraged their readers to make a bucket list – I certainly would not want to relinquish mine; thinking of my life goals excites me, and there is nothing to say that I can’t be one of those 0.000001% of people who achieve things that major. In fact, if you strip each of them down to their core they become far more tangible:

  • Become a mum
  • Spend more money on fresh veg, plan our weekly meals and perhaps go on a cookery course.
  • Buy some new dresses
  • Continue to write my novel, send it off to an agent and self-publish if I want to if conventional veins don’t work
  • You get the drift.

So I suppose my point here is twofold:

  1. My bucket list is pretty unreasonable.
  2. It is wonderful to dream big, but while you do, be realistic – don’t mistake me; never abandon your plans no matter how crazily unfeasible they seem to you or anyone else, but be aware that it is possible that things wont work out perfectly, or perhaps not at all. It is important that you know how to live a happy life should your most fervent desires not come true.

And so now you have more insight into the reason that I am concentrating on how to find daily happiness, and the reason my blog doesn’t (yet) cover how to go after the bigger things in life. What point is there if right now you’re miserable; you know the nature of the best laid plans of mice and men – sometimes future machinations just don’t turn out the way you want them to, so it can’t be healthy to dwell on them unless you have things that bring you present day joy. Moreover, think about how much more confident you will be, and thus how much more likely you are to achieve your dreams if you are happy.

My suggestion then is that rather than a bucket list, you create a treehouse. In the back garden of your mind. Don’t carry it around with you every waking moment; instead visit it regularly and enjoy clambering about. Plan out your dream adventure hideout, and with each achievement nail a board into place. Hoist yourself up on low branches first, or else you will never be able to reach the lofty ones; in other words, include goals to which there is no impedance, monetary or otherwise – things you can do now (you can finish reading the blog first). Do these things often, and once you have done them hop to a new, equally accessible interest or challenge. Seeing yourself slowly build up a long list of achievements – or rather, seeing your treehouse take shape – will reinforce your belief that you can do, get or become anything you want.

Perhaps to some a distinction like this will seem pointless, but to others it may be a revelation, and to me it certainly feels like a step towards living a happy life. After all, the existence of a bucket is pretty pointless if no-one gets to use the water it holds.

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3 Comments on “NaDR’s Bucket List Challenge”

  1. elliepotten says:

    Thanks for the mention! I definitely agree that the tiny things can be just as important as the bigger ones. Personally I already enjoy the little things – I’m the MASTER of enjoying the little things! – and I’m ready to think about the bigger picture at last, but as I advised my readers, if they’re not in that place then they could still come up with five manageable things that would make them happy. It could be as simple as learning to make cookies or seeing a film they’ve been meaning to rent forever. My own bucket list still has little things on it as well as the biggies. Y’know, ‘dye my hair red’ right next to ‘see the Grand Canyon’…

    I love your tree-house idea. That’s how I started getting over my agoraphobia – everything that made me happy and took me that little further towards recovery slowly built up my confidence, formed a solid foundation for me, and made it easier to take the next step. And yes, keeping things realistic is important. If you’d need millions of pounds and ten lifetimes to do something, it’s probably better to pare it down to its essence and amend it a bit!

    Great post – looking forward to more! πŸ™‚

  2. No probs πŸ™‚ I just wanted to take a shot of it from the viewpoint of when the big things are too big to handle and you’ve lost sight of the little. I guess I’m a step behind you πŸ˜‰

    My list [treehouse!] being full of major things is a relection of issues that I will expand on later – I need to start again I think and learn to crawl before I can run!

  3. elliepotten says:

    Absolutely! Trying to tackle huge stuff before you’re ready is just asking for trouble, whatever area of life you apply it to. When I left uni with agoraphobia my list of goals – not my bucket list, exactly, but the things I wanted to achieve – included things like ‘walk down to the post office and back’, ‘catch a bus into town’ and ‘go round the supermarket for a big weekly shop’. If I’d thrown something big in there I’d have been a quivering wreck! The same principle applies to any kind of fear, anxiety or depression I think – you can’t just vault to the top of a ladder like that, you have to climb it!

    I don’t think I’ll be jetting off anywhere spectacular or doing anything too crazy just yet, but after five years of building it’s nice to know that my tree house is stable enough that I can finally start looking forward to expanding my horizons again. πŸ™‚


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