When I was sixteen years old I wrote myself out a bucket list.
This is just one great example of the way I like to live my life, I have big dreams and aspirations but apparently absolutely no fear of announcing them to the world for people to watch me fail. I have failed. A lot. But the important thing is that each time I did, I dove headfirst into a pint of Ben&Jerry’s, had a good cry about how unfair it all was to my Mum and then I picked myself right back up to fail all over again.
Failure is important. It is how we learn and grow as human beings. Failure should not be something that gets in the way of achieving your dreams or goals, but instead just some extra clutter that you have to side-step your way around on the way to your dream. Think of the path to your ‘Ultimate Goal’ as a living-room carpet cluttered with kids toys. At some point you are going to step on a Lego. Sure, you are going to hop around on one foot, probably curse a whole bunch and grit your teeth to ride out the shooting pains, but is that going to stop you getting to the TV remote at the other end of the room so you can watch the first episode of the last season of Game of Thrones?
That hypothetical Lego, while it definitely hurt, should not be enough to stop you from keeping on going. If you take a look at the majority of successful people in the world, they have clawed their way back from failing so hard they should have given up! If people didn’t have the courage to try again after rejection then the world would have no Harry Potter (and that is not a world that I ever want to live in).
So going back a decade to when I was sat in my bedroom with a black Mickey Mouse notepad open in front of me, I began to visualise everything I really wanted to do in my life as if failure wasn’t an option. Some of the things I wrote down were relatively simple, like flying a kite again. Which, incidentally, is not the best idea to try on a blustery day in a park full of small children. However, some of the entries seemed almost impossibly challenging, such as swimming with killer whales. I may now have succeeded in becoming a killer whale trainer but with the rules and regulations surrounding waterworks incredibly strict, I have no idea if/when that will ever be possible for me.
Regardless of how simple of elaborate the list became, what it has allowed me to do for the last decade is try to live my life to the fullest. Vacations were planned around the places I was most desperate to see and the vacation activities were already obvious after one glance at the list. In one epic road trip up California, my Mum and I managed to tick off around fifteen items on my bucket list, from seeing the Grand Canyon and the Hollywood Walk of Fame to gambling in Vegas and seeing blue whales! Now, not everyone has the means to take a life-changing trip like this (I know I am only able to thanks to the Bank of Mum), however making a bucket list can be a great way to introduce a little adventure into your everyday life.
When was the last time you flew a kite? Probably not since you were a little kid am I right? But what did you feel the last time that you did? Wouldn’t you like to feel that again? For me, some of the best memories I have from childhood were what I wanted to experience again. I started writing down things like ‘eat fish and chips at the seaside’, ‘cycle a bike around Milport’ and ‘check a stack of books out of the library and spend all day reading them’. Such small things can bring so much joy, and if you are stuck in the often miserable routine of adulthood, can be a welcome relief from the monotony of work, laundry and Netflix.
Incidentally, every single item I have ticked off my bucket list has given me a great story to tell. While cycling around Milport my Mum ended up losing control of her pedals and shot down a hill full-speed backwards. While I knew I didn’t ever want to skydive for real, I signed myself up for an indoor skydiving experience and ended up being really good at it! While we took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, the pilot got sick and had to emergency land the helicopter in the middle of the desert…
Ok. So that last one may not have been fun at the time, but it sure does work as a great story. While I stubbornly sat in the back of the helicopter trying to restore my heart rate back to normal as a person who is terrified of flying, my Mum went off happily exploring the desert surrounding us, no doubt looking for snakes or other things equally dangerous. She did, bizarrely, come back to us clutching a signed baseball in her hands that she had found on a rocky mound some fifty meters away. I guess you never know what you are going to find.
Even though you know you will fail at some point, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try something new. So go grab a piece of paper and get writing! From the most simple thing like learning how to play the piano to the most elaborate fantasy you could ever have, like walking the red carpet at the Oscars. A bucket list can help you to visualise what exactly you want out of life and whenever you lose that sense of direction, refer back to it for a little inspiration.
Start deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life, and start today!