A new alternative to bucket lists

The other day I read an article about a Billionaire tech and sports mogul and his journey to success.

In his mid 20’s he had a close call with death. In his moment of distress he voiced a silent prayer. He made a pact that if he survived he would get serious about this thing called life.

He survived.

He then made a bucket list of 101 things he wanted to achieve during his life time. Now age 59, he has knocked off 82 items on his list.

So let’s all make bucket lists.

Hold on.

I have made many bucket lists in my lifetime. Every once in a while I’ll find a random scrap of paper from years ago, littered with outrageous goals like compete in the olympics, go to space, win a nobel prize and play in a band in front of thousands of people.

I remember reading somewhere that no matter how crazy your goals are the mere effort of writing them down brings them closer to fruition.

Excellent! I’m that much closer to becoming a gold medalist astronaut rockstar.

Ignore the sarcasm, because I do love making bucket lists.

Avoid the gap

There is, however, one downside to bucket lists and ambitious goals in general.

If you measure your success primarily by how many items you scratch off a list, you may miss out on the opportunity to give yourself credit for all the growth you have experienced up until now.

It’s like chasing the horizon. No matter how close you get, it still seems unbelievably far away.

Watch out for the gap between where you stand now and where you are trying to arrive. For some, the gap motivates and propels you forward. For others, the gap mercilessly beats you down and berates you for not being closer to reaching the next goal.

How do we avoid the gap?

As I was building my latest bucket list, I was struck by an idea. I had reached 65 items and I was racking my brain for what else I could achieve in my life. Am I so lacking vision that I couldn’t get to 101?

I then stopped trying to force another item.

I grabbed my journal and made a different list. This time I looked backwards. I began to jot down all of the incredible experiences I have already lived.

And so the I Lived Project was born.

I lived

As I looked backwards and listed my experiences and achievements I felt a sense of profound gratitude. I laughed at the apparent randomness of my life, but was moved to see that somehow the experiences connected. It made me feel excited about the future. I could never have predicted where I would be today, so why should I worry about predicting where I will be tomorrow?

I decided that I would continue looking backwards and someday turn my list into a book that I could give to my children. “Hey kids, this is what Daddy did while he was on earth.”

Sounds like a cool legacy to me.

Here is a sneak preview of that book.

Drinking Ginger Beer with the kangaroos

Road tripping on the east coast of Australia with my sister. We stopped at a camp ground for the night. There was a sign that said Beware the kangaroos. I laughed and asked the park supervisor if we would actually see any, to which she responded “There are like 20 behind you!”

Superman-ing at the end of the world

Cruise from Punta Arenas, Chile all the way to Cape Horn — the last physical land mass before Antartica. The winds were so strong they knocked people over. I couldn’t resist using my life jacket as an excuse to pull a rocking superman and protect myself from the fall.

Serving a two year mission in South Korea

I lived in South Korea for two years as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was one of the hardest but most rewarding periods of my life. I learned Korean and made life long friends. This was my first week in the country and I had no idea what this guru was saying to me.

Your turn

Stay hungry and keep looking forward. But never forget to look back every once in a while and appreciate the journey.

Get started with your own I lived Project.

Even better, share some of your most memorable or crazy experiences in the comments section.