Although I have not seen the Bucket List, I have an idea of the basic storyline. The plot is about two aging men, who through illness, are confronted with their mortality,and become intent on making the most of their remaining time. They make their “bucket lists,” a list of those things they want to do before they die, and set out to do them.
The theme of using the inevitably of death to make the most of your life is not a new one, although a movie can certainly help bring the notion into the mainstream. It was Socrates who said “practicing dying is the highest form of wisdom”.
This theme has been expressed in all types of literature, including articles, books, and poems.A quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes has always been poignant to me; “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” Does anyone really want to die with their music still in them? You don’t need to wait to you are older, or ill, to take make your list and take action on it.
One of my earliest recollections of coming across this idea of embracing the inevitability of death to live, is in the pioneering personal development book, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. He asks the reader to imagine they were just told they have 6 months to live. What is the first thing you would do upon leaving the doctor’s office?
In the late 90’s Steven Levine’s A Year to Live was published. This book is essentially a manual, designed to instruct you on how to treat each moment as if it were your last.A blurb from the back cover says it best;“Most of us go to extraordinary lengths to ignore, laugh-off, or deny the fact that we are going to die, but preparing for death is one of the most rewarding and rational acts of a lifetime.It is an exercise that gives us the opportunity to deal with unfinished business and enter into a new and vibrant relationship with life.” No one knows which moment will be their last.People die at every and any age, from accidents, illness, and a myriad of other ways.If it were your last, would you want to die with your music still in you?
Even television is in on this; the Travel Channel’s “1000 Places to See Before You Die” is based on the book of the same name. The show features a couple who left their lives behind for 14 weeks to tour the world.
You do not need to wait until you are older or find out you have a life threatening illness, to act on your bucket list. You don’t need one more day to at least make your list. I made a list about a year ago, and Ialthough I haven’t visited all of the places on there, I am making headway. Just making the list can be a life altering action.
You may find it helpful to break your list down into sections
5 things I want to do before I die.
5 places I want to visit before I die.
5 things I want to tell the 5 most important people in my life before I or they die.
You get the idea. You can use whatever categories and amounts work for you.5
Life is a blip. As our lives go on, the years go faster and the days seem to stay just as long. There is no perfect time or moment; stop planning, start living. Life is the special occasion so use the good china for yourself, ask him out, let everyone you love know it, forgive whomever you need to forgive, make the call you have been waiting to make, take that trip, can you afford not to do what you think you can’t afford.
What’s on your list? What are you waiting for?
You know it’s coming, in the next few days someone is going to ask you what your
New Year’s Resolution is. Don’t worry though, hardly anyone asks if you kept your previous resolution. I guess they do not want to be asked the same question. In most cases the answer is no. Statistics say over 95% of New Year’s Resolutions are not kept.
There are many reasons why New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside. I am not sure how helpful it would be to look at them. Instead lets take a look at what actually works for people:
I would say, so big that it is a dream not a resolution. Whatever it is you want for yourself, it needs to be important enough to inspire. If fitness or losing weight is on your agenda; Can you see yourself training for and running The New York Marathon in November? This kind of commitment would engage your mind, body, and soul. This is the kind of experience that asks more of you than “losing 10 pounds” or “going to the gym more often”, it is also the kind of experience that could be life changing.
It needs to be important to YOU.
Make sure it is your dream, not what a parent, spouse, friend, boss, or society wants for you. It shouldn’t be something you think your supposed to want or do. If it is not your dream, will you be able to stay in it when the challenges come up. Wouldn’t you rather feel inspired? Inspiration comes from within. It’s o.k. if someone in your life has the same dream, however, it just isn’t worth pursuing a dream that isn’t yours.
Be specific. You need to know what you want to get what you want.>
If you ask someone their definition of success, the most common answers are money, health, job, security, and family. Those are words not dreams. Who is it that you want to be in the world, within your profession, family, community? If you are a financial advisor, being known as the “go to guy in your community for families that want financial freedom”, is very different than “finding more clients.” It asks you to see yourself in a different way. Who are you working with? What are they dressed like? Are you in the city or suburbs? Use all five of your senses, approach it as if you are writing and directing a movie. Use as much detail as possible.
Make it challenging but attainable.
If it is so challenging that it isn’t attainable, like winning an Olympic Gold Medal at age 55, you will lose interest. At the same time if it is too easy, you will probably lose interest just as fast. If you want to take into account your health and age, you may have you eye on competing in a race in your age group.
Write it down.
Writing it down gives your focus, clarity, and brings the energy of your ideas out into the world. If your dream is a single sentence, you are not using your imagination. “I want one million dollars” is not a dream. Ask yourself Who you want to be?, What you want to do? and What you want to have? in your future. I subscribe to the adage, what you dwell on grows. Writing it down will get your thinking out of the past and present, to what you want to see happening in the future.
It is much easier to create a new habit then eradicate an old one.
This is actually based in neuroscience; reasearch shows it is easier to create new wiring in the human brain than eliminate old wiring. Focus on what you are going to do, not on what you want to stop doing.
Make sure you have the support you need.
By nature human beings are highly adaptable to their environment. If your environment is not set up to support you, then it will drag you down. This is one of the key reasons, you can almost always get started on a resolution and somewhere along the line be pulled back.
This is not restricted to your physical environment, it includes people, financial, health, leisure, and other environments you engage with. Consider whether these areas of your life set up to support you, or are holding you back. As an example, if you are looking to earn more money; Who are the people you spend most of your time with? Are they earning less or more than you? Do they constantly say “money is not important”? Do they have prejudices against wealthy people? Consider spending time with people who are where you want to be.
The dream has to be in integrity with who you are.
It does not have to be altruistic, pick someting that is in alignment with who you are, your own idea of success. There is no moral judgment in what is important to you.If it goes against your personal values, it is not your dream.
Focus on the journey, not the destination.
You can’t control the outcome, only the actions you take and choices you make.There are no guarantess, so you may as well enjoy the ride. You can suffer, sacrifice, and even conjure up all sorts of unwritten contracts with the world, or your god. There are still no guarantees. If someone trains to run a marathon, they may actually have a lot of fun. It could involve joining a running club; training with a spouse, mate, or friend; and buying new running clothes. Even if you didn’t run in the marathon you may have had an awesome time training. Oh yeah, and probably lose a few pounds, build self esteem, and be healthier as a result.
When you get clear on what it is you want, you start feel empowered. You start to feel like you are right with the world, and have the inner knowing that I can do this. This isn’t some magical formula for greed, prestige, or status, it is about becoming more of who you already are.
Happy New Year
Autho wrote a profound book of meditations “More Language of Letting Go which offers bold perspective on taking responsibility for our lives. The passage for January 6th in particular speaks with a clearer perspective than anything else I have read on this topic.
This passage begins outlining the risks one would take when they go skydiving, bungee jumping, or a number of other sports, rides, etc. You are asked to sign a waiver acknowledging the danger in what you are about to do. “You sign the waiver to protect others from being liable in case of an accident”.
She suggests that we take this same viewpoint with all of the choices we make in our lives. “Ultimately no one is responsible for my life but me. There is no one to blame, no one to sue, no one to ask for a refund.”
To help the reader on this path, she created a waiver for the reader to sign. This waiver asks the reader to take responsibility for the decisions they make. Where and who they live with..how you spend money and time… “There are inherent dangers and risks in all decisions I make. Life and people have no obligation whatsoever to live up to my expectations…Life is a high risk sport and I may become injured along the way.
The passage concludes with “Although people may voluntarily nurture and love me. I and I alone am responsible for taking care of and loving myself.”
This is pure poetry about how to get the most out of life.
When someone is in a less than ideal situation in work or a relationship, it is easy to feel like a victim of a boss or circumstance. It is not uncommon to feel almost powerless in such a situation, as if we don’t have any choices, while we are actually giving up our freedom to choose. A few years back a coach of mine David Dowd shared with me the 5 Tenets of Freedom; They are about taking responsibility for our lives and our choices. Ask yourself how you are choosing to be in the situation you are in? Take your life back!
The Five Tenets of Freedom
1. Freedom is more important than anything else
2. Uncover where I am operating as a victim and transfor that to a choice.
3. Face everything and avoid nothing.
4. Don’t take life personally.
5. Freedom is directly correlated to my ability to see myself as part of a whole.
Business Week profiles pickle maker Rick Field, the founder Rick’s Picks. He describes what it takes to transform a hobby into a thriving business with national distribution.
“Background: In 2003, Field, a director and producer for veteran journalist Bill Moyers, left TV to turn his pickle-making hobby into a full-time business he named Rick’s Picks.” more
If you are considering a career change, The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released employment projections for the 10 year period 2006-2016. This report may help you decide where and where not to devote your job search efforts.
The report projects the fastest growing occupations over the next 10 years. They estimate service-providing sector jobs will see the largest growth employing 75% of all workers in 2016.
Network systems and Data Communications Analysts top the list with Personal and Home Care Aides, Home Health Aides, Computer Software Application Engineers, and Veterinary Technicians rounding out the top five fastest growing occupations. The report also bodes well for those in financial and employment services; medical care, as well as printing, and motor vehicle parts manufacturing.
Not surprisingly they cite aging and retiring baby boomers as a big influence on the growth and decline of certain professions. This is for two reasons, first being that they will be retiring and leaving vacancies; second as they age there will be a greater demand for services such as home health care.
Topping the list of professions expected to see the largest employment decline are stock clerk and order fillers. I wonder what this means for retail businesses? Other notable professions in the list of the top 30 declining professions are Farmers & Ranchers, Sewing Machine Operators, and the profession that couldn’t decline fast enough Telemarketers.
Are you rushing through life missing out on the real moments? How much time do you spend contemplating problems which never even happen? Most of us create an unnecessary amount of stress in our lives by spending more time rehashing the past or trying to control the future, then we do in the present moment.
In “Choosing Happiness” Alexandra Stoddard writes “The past is dead gone forever, only to be retrieved in memories, films, scrapbooks, and memorabilia. The past, whether good or bad, Is not where we should water our seeds of consciousness, because doing so drains our energy from what is alive to us and around us now. Dwelling on the past inhibits our ability to move forward and take action to inspire our well-being. However we perceive the past, whether in a positive or negative light, concentrating on it makes us unhappier in the present.” (more…)
In Work Like You’re Showing Off! Joe Calloway uses the surge in popularity of high-stakes poker as a metaphor for going all-in with our lives and careers, much like a poker player would. It is about bringing your best to every situation.
He recounts a sermon his pastor recently gave about “Going All In”. “In poker when you go all in, you are putting it all on the line, every last chip goes into the pot. It is the most intense and exciting time of the game.”<!–more–/>
The author asks whether he has gone all in with what he feels is important in his life. The topics he considers are the same that most of us would consider.
We can use the same metaphor and questions for our own lives. We can instantly get a clear picture our committment level in multiple areas of our life.
Try some of the questions he considers in the book.
Have I gone all in with my work? What I consider to be the most important parts of my work?
Am I all in with my relationships?
Am I all in with my dreams and goals?
“Have I put every chip in the pot in terms of my family? faith? community? friends? Am I all in?”
My take is that in some areas of life one is “all in” and not so much in other areas. This brings a whole slew of other questions.
What do you want to do about the things where you’re not “all in”?
Can you get to that level of committment, or do you want to drop it?
What about the next job, committee, volunteer opportunity, relationship, that comes your way?
Will you be “all in”? If not, do you really want to be in at all?
Randy Pausch a professor at Carnegie Mellon University diagnosed with liver cancer with a prognosis of only months to live, gave his final lecture on September 18th, 2007. “Living Your Childhood Dreams” on September 18th of this year. He allowed it to be streamed, it has since been watched over 1 million times.
The video streams from Google and It is almost 2 hours in length. If you don’t want to watch it all at one time, you can use the You Tube version further down as it is broken up into segments.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.