This life lesson relates to my previous blog post #86 Go for a Polar Bear Swim.
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”
– Greg S. Reid
I was only introduced to this quote in 2016, long after I actually started my list. I was talking about my bucket list with my friend, Jesse, when he recited this to me. This quote embodies what a bucket list is. Write it down, plan it out and go do it. These are the three easy steps to completing anything in your life. What does this really tell us though? It tells us that you just have to start!
The start of your bucket list is not when you complete the first item, it is when you write down the first item. That is when it becomes real.
Back at the end of 2009, I found my inspiration to create my bucket from a TV show, as I mentioned in How I Started My Bucket List. At the same time I was filled with stress due to my university final exam period. Also, I have had an unshakeable aspiration to travel the world since I was young. It seemed like this combination of inspiration, stress and aspiration was the perfect mix to drive me to start something.
I always had a running list, in my head, of the things I wanted to do in life but when it was in my mind it did not instill the same drive as seeing them on paper. When we keep ideas in our mind it is easy to throw them in the “too hard basket” and just forget about them. I know I was guilty of this because some of the things that ended up on my final list were ones that I had wanted to do earlier in my life but had forgotten about. For some of them it took me over a week of asking myself the same question to actually remember them and add them to the list.
How could I forget my life goals? Because humans forget. Everyone is bound to forget things eventually. My advice here is to write them down.
When I started writing my list I knew I had to give myself a deadline to finalise it and begin working on it. This is where the Polar Bear Dip on New Year’s Day seemed logical so I went with that. Had I not given myself a deadline I probably would have kept working on it and not finish it until the next final exam period rolled around four months later.
The Polar Bear Dip was a great way to start and my list was an easy one to accomplish. However, not all of the items on my list are as easy to accomplish. This is where the second line of Greg S. Reid’s quote applies. Take #47 Set a Guinness World Record for example. I don’t know how I am going to accomplish this but I do know that I will not be able to just go out and do this. I am sure this item will take a lot of planning, training and organisation to make it happen.
When we look at a problem as a whole it can seem daunting and keep us from starting. Instead of trying to tackle the problem as a whole, we must break it down into smaller steps that are manageable. We start by solving the easy problems and those solutions will help us solve the bigger problems. This method of problem solving is like the momentum of a snowball rolling down a hill. Eventually you will solve all the problems and achieve your goal.
I really enjoyed the movie Martian, where Matt Damon’s character ends up stranded on Mars and has to solve problems to survive before he is rescued. In one scene he says the following quote. “You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… then you solve the next one. And then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home” (Martian).
His character was referring to a life-or-death situation but the concept is still the same. Solve enough problems and you will achieve your goal.
People frequently ask me about my bucket list and how my progress is going. I love to share my stories with them and hope that it will inspire them to do the same. A lot of times in our discussions people say to me that they want to do something but come up with an excuse of why they can’t. I am guilty of this as well. The classic excuses are: too far, too expensive or don’t have enough time. At least we have recognised the problems, we just haven’t got to the stage of solving them yet.
The conversations that really throw me off guard are when people simply say they want to do something and then pause, without coming up with any kind of excuse. For example, “I really want to go on an African safari…” They have determined what they want to do but haven’t started to plan it, therefore they haven’t recognised any problems to solve. People can stay in this mode for a long time and repeat the same sentence many times before actually planning it. See if you can catch yourself doing this. If you do, take a moment and think how you are going to complete your task.
Even if you don’t want to create a whole bucket list, I encourage you to write down a few of your life goals and begin planning them. No matter what you want to achieve, the first thing you have to do is just start somewhere. This is the most important thing that I learned from starting my list. My bucket list has had such a positive impact on my life and I’m sure that trend will continue.
What are you waiting to start? Why not start it now? Let me know in the comments below.
Need help starting? Check out Launch Pad.
Dave has been on a mission, since 2010, to cross off the 100 items on his bucket list. The stories of his adventures are complimented by life lessons learned along the way and his travel tips are unique to his experiences.