We’ve all heard of the bucket list; the list you make when you are getting older in life, many make this list as they approach their mid-lives, of all of the things you want to do, accomplish or see in life “before you die.” Once the bucket list idea was introduced, almost everyone has one now, even teenagers. As I coach so many people who are ill, I have come to find they too have that bucket list. Some say, their bucket list is more urgent than most because of their illness and they simply don’t know how much time they have left.
HOWEVER, I say, we are making the wrong kind of lists. Or at the very least, we need to add another list which is way more important than the bucket list. I encourage to have both. The list to help you through those “bad” times, those times where you simply don’t feel you can fight any longer. You may not be in the fight of your life now, but what about tomorrow? What about a sudden accident, or illness, or something so traumatic happens and you slip in to a deep depression? What is going to help you then? During those dark moments when giving up seems so much easier? When giving in seems like the only option? The bucket list you have created, now only makes all of this worse as it is a constant reminder of the things you are not doing, can no longer do, or perhaps will never accomplish. It’s a reminder that your life is different now.
I coach everyone to make this list:
- Make a list of all of the reasons you have to fight….things and people and put an explanation beside them.
- Ask all of the people who are on your list of reasons to fight, to write a letter (or list) of all of the reasons they want you to fight. *Do not read them as they come in. These letters/lists are for when you need them. When you need that fight inside you again to overcome and be triumph, you will reach in to your box of letters, choose one and read it.
- What do you do that truly makes you happy? (watching a movie, going to the beach, taking a walk with your kids or spouse, riding a bike, vacation, etc…) How can you incorporate it into your daily life now? (I have coached people who were grieving the loss of a loved one and one of the most common things they said they missed most was the “ritual” in which they shared, that this was the one true thing that made them happy. For some it was breakfast every Tuesday at their favorite spot, others was walking hand in hand down the beach every Sunday morning. Yet, once they passed, they stopped doing this. I encourage them to continue doing exactly the same ritual and during that time, “talk” to them through memories and smiles and thoughts. If it helps, bring a picture of them with you, you can keep it in your pocket even, but it’s a symbol of them being with you. Allow that time to be your time together..if you need a time every day, dedicate that time and that time only. The rest of the day is spent doing things that allow yourself to be truly happy and start living again…this also gives you something new to “talk” about during your time with your loved one.) Find a way; YOUR way!
- What is your purpose in life? Forget about your past preconceived notions of what you wanted or thought was going to happen; think of you now and life as a whole…pretend you are up high looking down at you and your life…what is your bigger purpose?
- What is your favorite quote? (Don’t have one? Find one!) Tape it to your bathroom mirror so every morning you read it and every night before bed you read it. Tape it to the sun visor of your car so when you get in and out each time, you are reading it. Set it as a reminder on your phone 2-4 times throughout the day so it periodically goes off. (You’ll be surprised how often it goes off during those moments when you need it most.)
- What is YOUR song? (Don’t have one? Find one!) It doesn’t matter if it’s “popular” or on the top of the charts, it doesn’t matter the beat; what matters is that it touches you; it moves you; it makes you feel alive again and empowers you to keep going. Set it as your ring tone or your text notification sound. Set it as your alarm so every morning you are waking up to it.
- What is your favorite place? This could be a coffee shop, ice cream shop, mall, this could be a chair in your house that simply makes you feel safe, loved and cozy. If you don’t have one, create one. Find a chair and fill it full of the things that give you comfort and pure happiness. While in your place, there is one rule….at NO point can you think, speak or listen to negativity.
- What are your positive trigger words? These words are words that instantly make you smile and feel better.
- What are your negative trigger words? These are the words that instantly make you feel sad or bring back sad memories for you.
During the times where you need that fight, you need that reason, this list will be your savior. You will have the letters already waiting for you to open and read from your loved ones, you will have your song and quote ready to lift you up, you will have your go to place, you will know which words are triggers so you just have to focus on changing the negative ones, you will have things to do that make you happy. This list will allow you to dream again and to start truly living.
Make a bucket list? Yes! BUT…make a “Life Saver” list too!