Bucket Lists

By Ed Maier, Former Andersen Partner

In an earlier newsletter this year, I suggested that all of us might do ourselves a favor by occasionally moving out of our comfort zones. We could do this in our personal lives and/or our professional lives. I hope that some of you took action and did something outside your own comfort zone. And perhaps you even benefitted from the change.

This quarter I would like you to give some thought to a similar, but different, concept – Bucket Lists. I am confident that most of you have heard this term before and have an idea of what it means. But for those of you spending all your time in your own man cave, or the female equivalent thereof, a simple definition of Bucket Lists from Dictionary.com is “a list of things a person wants to achieve or experience, as before reaching a certain age or dying”.

A great example of Bucket Lists can be found in the good little movie of the same name which Rob Reiner directed and released in 2007 and which starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. In the movie, Nicholson and Freeman meet in a cancer ward of a hospital. Both have been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But as they begin to get to know each other, they find that they have two things in common: (1) They want to come to terms with who they are and what they have done with their lives, and (2) They have a desire to complete a list of things they want to see and do before they die. Against their doctor's advice, the men leave the hospital and set out on their own personal “adventure of a lifetime”. If you’d like to watch the movie, you can find it on Amazon Prime.

The movie is fun to watch, but you don’t need to see it to start your own Bucket List. Just begin by starting your own list. Ask yourself what is something that you have not done that you would like to do? Or try to do? What is something that you always said you would do, but haven’t done yet? They don’t have to be huge differential steps like making a career change, although they could be. They just might be small steps like starting a new hobby or reading that one epic novel you always said you wanted to read.

If you need something to stimulate your thought process, go to Google to find a number of suggested ideas to create your Bucket List. I came across a website with a YouTube Video that you can view in under ten minutes. In simple terms, it describes how you can create your own personal Bucket List. The website is www.developgoodhabits.com/bucket-list-ideas.

Here are a few examples, of the many ideas that you can start with:

Travel – I would like to:

  • Visit all of the continents.
  • Do a pub crawl of the fifteen most popular pubs in Dublin.
  • Try river cruising. I enjoy cruising and have been on ocean cruises but have never tried river cruises. I would like to cruise the Danube, the Yangtze, the Mississippi, the Amazon.
  • Climb Macchu Picchu.
  • Visit every state capitol in the United States.
  • Visit the top five tourist attractions in my home town or state that I have never seen before.

Sports – I would like to:

  • Attend a Summer Olympics and a Winter Olympics.
  • See a football game in every one of the Premier League stadiums.
  • Attend all four of professional golf’s major tournaments.
  • Learn how to play cricket.
  • See at least one game played by every professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association.
  • Help coach a youth athletic team.
  • Attend or volunteer at our local grammar or high school athletic or entertainment events.

Adventure – I would like to:

  • Take the family on a surprise weekend trip.
  • Go on a safari to Africa.
  • Ride a zip line.
  • Jump out of an airplane.
  • Camp out at the North Pole.
  • Go deep-sea diving.

Entertainment – I would like to:

  • Attend a concert at each of the top twenty symphony orchestras in the world.
  • Watch every motion picture that won an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture since the Oscar awards were begun.
  • Follow my favorite musician(s) on tour around the U.S. in one year.
  • Perform a comedy routine at an open-mike night in my home town.
  • Attend every performance of my son/daughter in their high school band.
  • Go to a local opera performance.

Personal – I would like to:

  • Learn the craft of glass blowing.
  • Prepare every recipe in Julia Child’s book – “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.
  • Write my own book.
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument.
  • Become a skilled poker player.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Do one activity per week with each of my children individually.

Community – I would like to:

  • Learn how to become a foster parent.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter, or church, or local school.
  • Stop by the home of that new family that moved into the neighborhood, introduce yourself and welcome them.
  • Volunteer to work on a local political campaign. More ambitiously, run for local office.
  • Volunteer to help returning military personnel acclimate back into society.

These are but a few categories and, hopefully, provocative ideas which you might consider as you begin to build your Bucket List. Another question to consider is: How many things should I put in my bucket? That is strictly up to you. If you look out on the internet, there are some examples of lists with hundreds of items on them. My recommendation is you include in your bucket only as many things as you can carry around with you. How many of the things in your bucket can you reasonably accomplish in a reasonable time frame?

Where should you keep your Bucket List? What should you put it in? These are questions that only you can answer. But I suggest that you keep it somewhere so that it is regularly, or at a minimum, occasionally visible to you. I have found that when I get a Bucket List idea, I put it on my Outlook calendar and keep moving it forward until I act on it. I have learned that lists of multiple bucket ideas that I have created in the past—mostly at seminars and workshops devoted to similar topics—tend to disappear over time or get pushed to the back of the drawer of a desk or credenza. They only become remembered when some sort of clean-up effort takes place.

So, for myself, I have learned that I only have a few things on my Bucket List at a time. And they periodically get pushed out on my calendar. Sometimes I act on them. Sometimes I don’t. But that’s on me—nobody else. That’s what works for me. And if it helps you, then great, but you have to determine what works for you. What keeps your Bucket List alive and in front of you in a manner that helps you act on it? I only know that since I have been paying more attention to thinking about a Bucket List and acting on it, I have accomplished a few new things and continue to think about others that I might like to accomplish. Start the process and chances are you will find that your bucket list will never be empty. Some will be completed and removed; some will be removed as no longer relevant or important; new ones will be added. And new elements of fun and enjoyment will be added to your life.

One final thought to consider. Many of you who read this article might think: “Well, that’s easy for him to say. He is retired. He has plenty of time to do these things. My life is so complex, complicated and crowded that I barely have time to get my regular stuff done and live up to my present obligations and responsibilities”.

I won’t criticize that. For most of my life, I behaved the same way. I put a lot of things “to do” in front of me that were driven by others, not by me. Just like you, I had to live up to certain obligations and responsibilities. I still do. But I have learned that if you put any level of time and effort into thinking about and organizing your Bucket List, you will begin to accomplish some of the items on it earlier than you think. There is an old saw that goes something like this: “People on their death bed don’t say – Gee, I wish I could have spent more time in the office.” You don’t have to wait until later in life to begin building your list. Bucket Lists are not the provenance of the older, senior crowd. They are for everyone—now—whatever age.

There are things you have often said or thought that you would like to do, or try to do. Don’t wait for the “ideal” or the “perfect” time to do them. That will never come to you. Get out of your comfort zone, start making your Bucket List, and start acting on them.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts. I would love to hear some of your own Bucket List stories. Write me at ed@thinkstraighttalkstraight.com.

And, as you will see elsewhere in this newsletter, you don’t need to watch for my book any longer! Think Straight. Talk Straight. is now available on Amazon. It was on my Bucket List and it is now crossed off! I hope you will buy it and enjoy it! And encourage your friends, relatives and colleagues to do the same!