A bucket list is only a bucket list IF YOU ACTUALLY WRITE IT DOWN.
In 1995, my favourite band at the time, Bon Jovi, did a concert in Cape Town. I skipped it because of an important university exam (which I failed anyway). For over a decade, it would feel like unfinished business.
In 2006, Bon Jovi toured the US as part of their “Have a Nice Day” tour. I watched them live at President's Park Philadelphia, and it would be the third thing on my “41 things to do before I die” that I would tick off that year. Before the year was through, I would knock off at least another 3.
Somewhere in between being a useless student and being a lecturer in leadership at a top US college, I made a list. I made it as part of an elective module in the final year of my MBA at the University of Stellenbosch – a random list of 41 things (that’s all I could think of at the time) that I wanted to be sure to accomplish in my lifetime.
Some of them were stupid and immature - pretty sure joining the mile high club is too uncomfortable to be worth it, I don’t have the impetus to actually get a six pack at this point (and not even in my best shape was I even close).
But learn Spanish, learn to play the guitar, hike the Otter Trail, backpack South America, climb Kilimanjaro, marry a woman that I love…these were all worthwhile pursuits, and I pursued them all at the right time. And my favourite Afrikaans musician, Pieter Smith? It was on my list for him to play a private concert for me – and at time of writing, he’s done it twice, of which one was at my wedding.
Some of the goals are still pending. Playing Augusta Golf Course (epic venue for the US Masters, and the most unattainable of golfing goals) will probably be the hardest. The most important is playing with my grandchildren – I married and had kids late in life, so I plan to be a very fit 70 year old.
I have added a few more things to the list over time. But the point is: have a list. Don’t you love it when people sigh when you come back from a grand adventure to some exotic place, and their wistful refrain: “It's on my bucket list.” Really? Maybe ask them to show you their bucket list. Probably, most cases, it’s just another thing in their head they want to do one day.
When you write it down, though, it becomes real. It becomes a priority. So when the opportunity to go drink beers at the Oktoberfest comes along, and it’s on your list: Well, it’s not a good time, is it? Kids, work, responsibilities. But it’s on your list. So you make a plan. And you’ll never be sorry you did.
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