Does Your Bucket List Measure Up to Your Aspirations?
Self Help

Does Your Bucket List Measure Up to Your Aspirations?

Bucket List

Are you trying to finish your own bucket list? Or has it been encroached upon without you having even known?

A sudden death. A sudden illness. The fragility of life is more evident now than it ever was. Each day, our daily dose of news brings us face-to-face with the reality of death. Social media helps us feel empathy for people we never even knew. We see posts about people who met an untimely death and realize that someone we know had known the person. We feel the pain, the sorrow, the fear of a young life lost somewhere in the world.

And then, we introspect. ‘Live while you’re alive’ is a mantra many want to adopt. ‘Kal kisne dekha hai’ seems truer than it did when our grandparents said it. The result? A generation that is trying to quickly finish its bucket list without actually having spent enough time in making it!

Let us elaborate. Someone likes to travel. They have recently travelled more than usual and are posting stunning pictures of their shenanigans. With attractive hashtags like #traveldiaries, #thingstodobeforeyoudie, #dothisforyourself, #dontsave, travel, and of course many more. If they have 200 followers on Instagram, at least 30% will have ‘Travel’ on their bucket list soon. Similarly, someone runs a marathon. Okay, a lot of people run a marathon. The internet is abuzz with pictures the next day. Hashtags like #runforlife #runningislife #feelingtheadrenaline etc are now trending. Next thing you know, you want to run a marathon ASAP!

To cut to the chase, there is nothing wrong with travelling or running. They are beautiful in their own ways. The problem is the encroachment into your sense of longing. Exposure to such posts over and over again on social media makes people genuinely believe that these are the activities that will bring them immense joy too, and before they know it, these are the tasks on their own bucket lists.

More and more people are trying to invest their time in hobbies that aren’t even their own. They’re trying to finish a bucket list that is not even their own. Think about it. Do you have a list of things you want to do? Have you felt like fast-tracking it each time you read about an untimely death?

I believe that there are two different parts of a bucket list. One is making it, and the other is completing it. For me, creating a bucket list is just as precious as trying to finish it. A simple path to self-discovery is putting down on paper what you believe will give you joy. It’s quite easily, a beautiful therapeutic process. Whether you tick it off, whether it brings you the joy you expected it to, all are secondary things. What matters is that at one point, you explored your thoughts and believed that this was something capable of bringing you happiness.

Pursuing someone else’s hobby, though is as useless as the ‘ueue’ in ‘queue’. Despite the effort and time invested, you’re unlikely to find joy. If someone you know loves travelling, it need not find a place of honour on your bucket list. You might find your happy space in your own home, with food that warms your soul and a friend to talk to late into the night. The pressure of having an exciting bucket list has taken the simpler joys off the coveted position though and like it is said at the beginning –

“If someone were to ask me about my bucket list, I will obviously need nicer items and not, ‘waking up late every morning”

So, what most of us do, is try and trick ourselves into being more ‘in sync with the world’ by creating a nice bucket list. ‘Nice’ in the generic sense, not in the deep intrinsic sense that one might want a bucket list to be. And then, slowly, as we try to find our fountain of joy as we accomplish one thing after another on the list, not only do we find ourselves confused, but also lost on someone else’s path. We wonder why our Bucket List is being ticked off, but the joy is still eluding us. We wonder, where we actually went wrong.

Take a day to think about what genuinely makes you happy. Irrespective of how it sounds. Irrespective of what others may think about it. It could be small things, it could be a larger plan. It needs no validation and confirmation. As long as you list out the things that you enjoy and spend time on them every day, you’ll find yourself happier and less petrified of losing out on a chance you had. If early mornings make you happy, put it down on your list. Try and ensure that you give yourself enough peaceful early mornings each week to keep yourself content. If travelling makes you happy, try and incorporate travel into your routine as much as possible.

Bucket lists can’t be ticked off at once. There is no right time or place to start. It begins in the Here and Now. Each day brings an opportunity to indulge in your own mental well-being. Awareness of what makes your mind rejoice is the key to tapping these moments. The larger goals may need a little planning, but the smaller ones will bring a constant stream of happiness that will make the planning possible. In fact, make two bucket lists. Do this with a close friend or your spouse. Help each other remember what brings a smile to your faces. Revisit old dreams that seem to have been lost along the way. If the memory of those old, dusty dreams still makes you smile, give them a place on your bucket list.

Make one list of things you can do every day. The things that need a few moments or an hour of your time. A walk in the park, a few minutes of music, your favourite bath salts when you soak in a hot bath, or a favourite brew of coffee or tea. It could be anything. Ensure that you see your daily bucket list each morning and see how even the most mundane day transforms into a happier space and time. The other list can be the one with longer-term plans and goals. This one should be open to revisions and changes. As time passes, feel free to add or subtract from your bucket list. Let it evolve with you. A bucket list isn’t a passive task. It is an active form of self-exploration, at various ages.

So revisit your passions and your hobbies. Reconsider what you already have on your bucket list. If the tasks are not your own, reinvent them. Shake off what is not yours and allow the real ones to surface. It’s a simple, direct and effective way to ‘Live while you’re alive’.

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