Bucket Lists: A Powerful Form of Self-Care

Bucket Lists - Cluff Counseling, Lewisville Marriage & Family TherapistIn the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Life really does move fast; one of the best ways to make the most of it is to have a bucket list. Not only will this help you deal on difficult days, but it will give you something fun and tangible to work towards. Remember…Y.O.L.O.

If you are a list person, this post is for you! Do you know what a bucket list is? I am sure many of you have heard of it. But what exactly is a “bucket list”? Slightly morbid…but it is called a “bucket list” because it is a list of all the things you want to do before you kick the bucket so to speak (erm…die.). A bucket list is also known as a “life list”–an in-depth list of the things you want to try, goals you want to achieve, and life experiences you want to have during this life. Bucket lists make you stop and think what you actually want to experience in this lifetime, they remind you that life is short and we should live it to its fullest, and they increase your happiness.

I am posting this blog as a licensed, professional therapist because I fully believe that everyone should have a bucket list, and not just because they are fun and exciting. I am writing this post because writing/having a bucket list is a form of self-care and I hope this blog post gives you a gentle nudge toward getting out of autopilot mode, enjoying life, and living fully.

Making a bucket list is quite simple…and fun! Here are some steps to get you started:

  • DREAMSTORM**. This is what happens when brainstorming and dreaming meet. Grab some paper or a blank Word Doc and scribble away. Write down the things you really want to do before you have kids/get old/or die. Maybe you want to hang glide, cage-dive with sharks, visit every continent, learn to play a musical instrument or another language. DREAM BIG. Be audacious but realistic and intentional; for example, owning an NFL football team would cost eight or nine figures of capital. Unless you plan on pouring your life into that goal…do not put that down. You want a list you can actually work with!
  • TIME IT OUT. One of my favorite quotes is from Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” If you stop after step one, you are going to have a lovely, overwhelming list that will fade in your desk drawer. This step is critical–plan out when you will accomplish your bucket list items! You can do this several ways…
    1. By short term deadlines–like during summer or before the end of the school year.
    2. By year–things you will accomplish in the year of 2017. This goes well with New Year’s’ Resolutions…but do not wait to plan because some bucket list items will require saving, flights booked in advance, or scheduling!
    3. By place–like if you are living in a certain city or state that has appealing things for you to do or see. Make a list of all the things you will accomplish while you are visiting or living there.
    4. By decade–things you hope to accomplish before your next birthday or during your 20s/30s/40s, etc.
  • BE ACCOUNTABLE.  Share your list (or parts of your list) with your spouse, your best friend, your sibling, or someone that shares your mutual interest in accomplishing those bucket list items. This will be wise to help minimize costs on shared expenses and will also keep you accountable to make stuff happen.
  • NARROW IT DOWN. Now that you have no more than five specific bucket list items that you have chosen to focus on, get specific. When will you do this? Where do you need to go? How will you get there? Do you need to buy anything? What preparation is involved? Then get to it and make it happen!
  • SPECIFICS. Now that you have no more than five specific bucket list items that you have chosen to focus on, get specific. When will you do this? Where do you need to go? How will you get there? Do you need to buy anything? What preparation is involved? Then get to it and make it happen!li>
  • CHECK AND REPEAT. Checking or crossing things off of your bucket list is oh so satisfying. Once you have things to check off, select new bucket list items and get specific in your planning to make it happen. And I would also recommend to make your bucket list a living one. Add to it! You never want to run out of things to dream of and work for!

Why on earth would I, a licensed therapist, be posting about bucket lists? What does this have to do with therapy? Well, making a bucket list is quite lighthearted and exciting. Sometimes life is hard, stressful, intimidating, frustrating, unfair, and a host of other negative things. Making a bucket list is a form of self-care; this can set your mind on lighter, happier things, and give you something to dream about and work towards. One of my family friends is a specialized dentist, and the way he can handle the stresses of day-to-day life is to have a trip to look forward to. He always has something on the horizon, and that keeps him going on tough days.  Making a bucket list can do the same for you.

I fully believe in taking time out of the day-to-day rigors for yourself and your personal needs. I do not think it is selfish; I actually find it to be wise and completely necessary. You will perform your basic duties better if you take regular breaks and time for yourself. Planning and executing a bucket list is not only an incredible way to carpe diem (make the most of the present), but it is a sure-fire way to work towards a bright, happy future. If you need help planning your bucket list, or making self-care fun again, contact me to set up your first session today!

**If you are struggling to get started during the dreamstorm phase, jump onto Pinterest and peruse bucket list boards, or even google that phrase and look through the images that are generated!

Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville,Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.

Cluff Counseling: “Choosing the Right Therapist for You”
Cluff Counseling: “Self-care: Is it Selfish?”
Raptitude: “How to Make a Bucket List You’ll Actually Do: A Comprehensive Guide”
Science of People: “The Psychology of Happiness”
Science of People: “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Bucket List”

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Melissa Cluff, MS, LMFT, CSAT

Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.