Making Your Bucket List a Reality

By Shannon McGinnis Koontz

Like many of you with small children, New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening at home. My husband and I sipped wine and watched The Bucket List. The movie ended just before midnight, so we counted down to 2012, went upstairs to kiss the kids, and then watched the craziness in New York and L.A.continue to unfold on the television. But my mind was still on the movie, so I opened my laptop and revisited my bucket list.

Fifteen years ago, and long before Freeman and Nicholson took their whirlwind trip around the world, I created my own“bucket list.” I called it the not-so-catchy “Things I Want to Do in My Lifetime” list, but it was the same idea. I wrote down more than 50 things that included various adventures I wanted to experience, classics I wanted to read, and skills I wanted to learn.

I’m pleased to say that over the years I’ve managed to cross off about 30 bucket items. Some of them were ambitious – including whale watching (see picture to the right taken with my BFF, Missy Durkin, somewhere between Nantucket and Boston in August 2010), meeting Oprah (albeit, by accident), and visiting Iceland (see picture above of me and my husband visiting Reykjavik, Iceland in June 2011). Some were simple – like making a time capsule and finally cleaning out my garage. And some were crazy – like dancing at a televised concert in the middle of Times Square, laying out nude on the beach (it was legal), and having children! And the list keeps growing as I think of new things I want to experience.

So what’s on your bucket list? What inspires you to say, I want to see this? Do this? If the busyness of life has prevented you from reaching your goals, here are a few ideas that might help you achieve them.

Write it down. Diet experts say if you write down what you eat, you have a better chance of achieving your weight loss goals… the same rule could apply to your bucket list. Plus, you get the satisfaction of crossing your bucket goals off!

Aim high.  It’s never too late. I recently saw on the news that Cross Road Retirement Community in Asheboro, North Carolina created something for its residents called the Dream Makers program, where they help their seniors achieve their lifelong dreams. They asked, if given the opportunity, what’s the one thing they’ve dreamed of doing?

One 66-year-old with chronic health problems fulfilled a 50-year goal to sky dive. Another visited the beach for the first time. One 91-year-old woman who was a diehard NASCAR fan got the VIP treatment at Martinsville Speedway. And a lump formed in my throat as the TV flashed a picture of a tiny little woman in the Alzheimer’s unit, who dreamed of meeting Elvis. The look on her face was of pure bliss as she obliviously clung to the Elvis impersonator who paid her a visit.

Share your bucket list with others. You may share common goals that will allow you to help each other reach them.

On New Year’s Day I sent out an email to my extended family asking what was on their bucket list. My cousin, Laurie, wrote back that she’s running a half marathon this year. This is the year I hope to cross my first marathon off my bucket list, so I look forward to exchanging training stories and tips (as well as being held accountable). My Aunt Peggy also wrote back, and said that she has always wanted to throw a cream pie in someone’s face. Ironically, that one’s on my bucket list too.

As far as the rest of my bucket list…this year I’m going to finally learn to sew, explore Alaska, read the Bible from cover-to-cover, and run my marathon. And at the family reunion this summer, I plan to show up with two cream pies – one for me and one for my Aunt Peggy. The rest of the family better watch out!

So what crazy, simple or ambitious thing have you crossed off your bucket list? And what does your bucket list have in store for you in 2012? Let’s hear it!


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