But Aunt Millie was so much more than a loving aunt—she was an inspiration. She loved to travel—and she had countless stories of her adventures. She traveled on her own and with her youngest child well before it was “fashionable” (or maybe even accepted) for a woman to so. I don’t believe Aunt Millie had a “bucket list” because she didn’t seem to wait to do what she wanted to do.
Towards the end of her life, when it was physically harder for her to travel, she traveled through the adventures and experiences of one her granddaughters who inherited Aunt Millie’s traveling spirit. With a huge, joyous smile, she would update me on her granddaughter’s latest trip.
I think of Aunt Millie often, and celebrate her for making her dreams happen before it was too late. How many of you know people that say “I wish I would have….”, which is often followed with a list of excuses of why x,y, or z didn’t happen.
If you feel that that person is you, it’s time to start asking yourself a question: Do you want to be like Aunt Millie, sharing countless stories with the next generation, or do you want to be the old Sour Puss that’s resentful because you never went after your dreams?
I’ll pick Aunt Millie any day—she was much more fun!
How can you give yourself a push to make your dreams a reality? Here are some tips:
- Make your bucket list. So obvious, but not always done. The list can be on your computer, a vision board, a voice memo, or a post it note. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure it’s recorded.
- Assign “Due Dates/Years”. My Project Management Mantra is “everything needs to happen—but it doesn’t need to all happy right now.” The same applies to the list. I have things “due” this year (starting this company), next year (publishing a book), a few years out (open up an international school of dance), and many years out (create a keepsake package to give to my girls on their graduation or wedding day).
- Create and schedule a detailed plan for those items due first/soon. Don’t sit on the things that are due first. Decide what steps you need to do to get at least the first one done, and determine when you will do them. Inertia is a powerful force. On the positive side, once you start to make progress, you tend to be motivated to keep going. An object in motion tends to stay in motion.
- Come up with a regular review process. The list is no good if it’s stuck in a drawer. Come up with a plan to review it regularly, and find a way to record your progress. In Corporate America we often use color coded dashboards, and can easily identify when we’re making a lot of progress (by seeing a lot of green) or when we’re not (by seeing a lot of red). Come up with a similar visual so you can easily spot how much progress you’re making on your Bucket List items.
- If you’re getting stuck/not making progress, figure out why. Again, inertia is a powerful force. On the negative side, if you’re not making any effort, it’s more overwhelming to start. An object that is still tends to stay still. Ask yourself what is holding you back. Fear of failure? A full plate? Should the item really be on your list? Dig into the root cause of your hesitation, and work to address it.
- Celebrate your progress. Congratulate yourself for each step you take—big or small. Take a cue from Aunt Millie and share your successes and adventures with others by telling your story with a joyous smile. What a great example for your team, and what a great model (and if you include them, what an adventure) for your kids.
I was so blessed to have such special time with Aunt Millie in the last years of her life—time that I didn’t get to share with my own grandmother, Aunt Millie’s sister, because my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s. My grandmother may have had many stories and adventures that went unshared. What a shame. I believe these two sisters were coming together to send us a powerful message: there is so much life to live—don’t wait! Start living right now!
So go ahead—get those dreams off of a bucket list and into real life!