|Light Knight, Flickr|
It's August already! We're halfway through summer. Has your summer been like you wanted it to be?
Before we get too far into the "I haven't enjoyed the nice weather enough", "I've been a slacker with my healthy living habits" and "Did I really drink all those cans of beer that are lined up in the garage?", let's twist that question a little bit:
You might be at a third of your life (i.e. in your late twenties), or halfway through (i.e. in your early forties), or even three quarters into it (i.e. past 60). Has your LIFE been like you wanted it to be?
And more importantly: what do you do about it TODAY?
Now is not the day to think back on the things you haven't done, have regrets, and despair. In fact, no day is a good day for that. I personally never allow myself to have regrets, because as the poet Maya Angelou would say:
"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."
What this day and all other days are good for is to look forward, pull up our sleeves, and MAKE THIS LIFE HAPPEN.
Do you leave the past behind to focus instead on the present and future?
Reverse bucket lists feel good
One strategy I use to make the most of my life is the bucket list. However, we all know fuzzy, long-term goals with few intermediate steps are hard to attain. For that reason, I believe in the "short term bucket list". For example, when I take a vacation, I always make a list. A list of [the boring] things that need to be done (e.g. repaint the hallway, scrub the fridge) and of [the fun] things that I want to do (e.g. go canoe-camping with the kids, have a sushi night out with friends). At the end of my vacation, if most of the items have been crossed out (no need to do it all), I feel satisfied and content.
When I don't do that, I end up thinking "Where did all that time go, and what did I do with it?" I certainly don't want to feel that way when it's time for me to cross the Styx.
Recently it has occurred to me that I could also put together a "reverse bucket list", i.e. a list of the things I have already accomplished that I would put on a bucket list if they hadn't been accomplished yet. Doesn't that sound fun? Isn't it a great way to acknowledge the past accomplishments we are so quick at taking for granted? Examples from my reverse bucket list, things I have already done (I put 37 items because I'm 37):
- Getting my Master's
- Starting my own business (in fact, I started 2, and they both flourished)
- Managing a team of 20 employees
- Making a living out of my communication/language/writing skills, and in the medical field
- Finding a good father for my kids
- Having two wonderful kids
- Becoming a runner/running races
- Doing a triathlon
- Singing on stage
- Starting a blog
- Being a university swim team coach
- Windsurfing and sailing
- White water rafting
- Kayaking and canoeing
- Zip lining
- Doing some wilderness camping
- Swimming across a big lake
- Swimming a proper butterfly
- Learning enough about wine and classical music to have a conversation about it
- Riding a horse, camel, and elephant
- Making the water polo team
- Getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight
- Overcoming my shyness
- Skinny dipping
- Sleeping under the stars
- Taking a scuba diving class
- Learning to drive standard
- Becoming a beach lifeguard
- Driving a motorcycle
- Seeing some of my favorite works of art "in person"
- Hearing some of my favorite musicians/singers/groups "in person"
- Backpacking in Europe for 3 months
- Visiting more than 20 countries
- Walking on the Great Wall of China
- Learning a third language
- Publishing articles in newspapers/magazines
Whenever I feel like I haven't done enough, I think of what my 15-year old self would think of this reverse bucket list... she would be quite impressed! That makes me feel better.
What will you put on your August Bucket List... and what about your Reverse Bucket List?
|It's been quite a while... I should put it back on the bucket list.|
Life - The playdough analogy
I like to see my life as a big lump of playdough. It's my role to shape it the way I want. Granted, I might not have received the exact amount I would have hoped for, and it might not be the exact hue I would have chosen. Plus, on a regular basis I do find a dried up piece that is of no use and/or gets in the way of what I want to do. (In all honesty, most times, if there are dried up pieces it's because I have failed to close the lid properly.)
What I'm trying to say here is that I take responsibility. I am accountable for most of the mishaps, and I learn how to make the most of what I have.
Do you take full responsibility in your life?
The first priority is to put your priorities in order
Before I started writing this post I had another idea - I wanted to write a Friday Fun Facts post. It would have been about some random things I've stumbled upon in the news lately. *
Then I thought "This would be fun, but it's not my priority". My priority as it feels right now and in the long run is to talk about LIFE. And so that's what I decided to do.
Do you know what your priorities are, and do you allocate most of your time and energy to them?
The grass is not always greener
Recently I've been questioning my life situation in general and some of my life choices in particular. But when I started confiding in some trustworthy friends or family members, something interesting happened: no matter what area of my life I was mentioning and no matter who I was talking to, I got the same response: I was told my life is wonderful as it is. Enviable. Someone even said: "paradisiac". And that I did not have much to gain from a change.
Of course those well-intentioned friends mostly see the positive side of my life, not the negative (I don't talk much about it, either). But I have to admit they are kind of right: my life IS very good. Maybe I'm falling prey (again!) to the What's Next? or Is That All There Is? syndrome. I've talked about it before (click on this link).
And listen to this song:
Of course when your life is not fulfilling, even if it's nothing major, denying this state of affairs won't take you very far. So... what can you do to find what you need and bring it into your life? That's when my next thought comes into play, namely:
If I was a therapist...
(Which I almost became, after all...)
... I would tell you "Welcome to my office. Please make yourself uncomfortable."
Because life improvement stems from change, and change stems from getting out of our comfort zone. Simple as that.
When was the last time you made yourself really uncomfortable?
For me, it was very recently. On July 15, I made a "public" announcement on this blog: starting that day, I would be less present on the blog, and spend less time online overall, to enable me to pursue other goals of mine that I had been neglecting (see here).
I knew this change was for the best (in order to meet my long-term goals), but gawd, has this withdrawal been painful. You know you're an addict when resisting is so hard. Well, those 2 weeks have been akin to a 2-week long PMS of the intense kind I've never even experienced; I've been hard on some people I care about; I've compensated with other unhealthy behaviors (vade retro, ice cream!); sometimes, when I managed to resist "the call of the Internet" AND the call of all other vices altogether, I felt like curling up in a fetal position and moan. (Okay... slight exaggeration).
What I mean is, changing your ways, especially when you've been relying on them to fulfill some needs (healthy or unhealthy ones) is tough. But I did it. AND, I've taken some significant steps toward my other, more important, goals. Once you get past the "paralyzed by terror" state, moving forward feels pretty good, thank you.
To make your way to your goal, you have to get rid of what gets in the way of that goal. And you have to take a plunge. Even if you're scared as sh**.
Are you willing to do that?
|Dennis Barnes, Flickr|
* Now, for those who might be interested in some pre-weekend entertainment, here are the random news I was talking about:
1) National Orgasm Day
Yes, you heard me well. Wednesday was "National Orgasm Day". If you did not celebrate, I believe it's not too late now.
Here's an article on all kinds of "orgasmic facts":
2) China in America
Paul Chiasson, a Canadian architect, argues that he has found a Chinese settlement dating from before Christopher Columbus in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This disputed discovery, if proved accurate, would change the whole way we look at North America, China, and our native people.
For the history buffs, there's a short video on the topic (click here).
What do you think about it?
3) The modern Icarus
Yves Rossy, better known as the Jetman, has managed to do what man has wanted to do since the beginning of humanity: he can FLY. See here:
Would you like to try that? (You can always add it to your bucket list...)
4) Of beer and boobs
How is beer related to boobs? Well, I'll let you read those 2 articles and tell me what you think:
5) Some good, musical, inspiring news:
Landfill Harmonic, or how to play music with trash.
Any random thoughts on this post or on life in general? And remember: life is all about the choices you make and the priorities you establish. Will you choose the easy way and only comment on my "random facts from the news", or will you dig deeper and comment on the "random thoughts on improving our lives"?...