Guest Post by Victor Prince
Ten years ago, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in the film The Bucket List about two old men with terminal cancer who want to complete a list of things they aspire to before they die (“kick the bucket.”) That film popularized the “bucket list” concept. Many people started compiling and talking about their own “bucket lists.” Unfortunately, those lists didn’t automatically come with implementation plans. Without plans, many of those lists became a waiting room of dreams never to be realized.
Cue the Millennial Generation. When The Bucket List came out ten years ago, few Millennials watched it. A film starring two seventy-year-old actors probably didn’t appeal much to even the oldest Millennials, who were then in their mid-twenties. While Millennials may have arrived late to the “bucket list-writing” party, they do have an advantage over older generations – time. If Millennials are smart, they may be the first generation to actually accomplish their ‘bucket lists’ and not just talk about them.
How Millennials Can be Smart About Their Bucket List
1. Move the Goalposts Forward
Death is a terrible deadline. Rethink your list as a “life list” of things you want to complete while you can. For goals requiring a physical element (e.g., walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain), set deadlines that are triggers alerting you when your window is closing. Instead of saying walking the Camino is on your “bucket list,” say it is on your list of things to do before you can’t walk a mile anymore.
2. Rank Your Goals
Having a long, un-prioritized list of things can be a recipe for inaction. If you have too many goals, it can turn into an intimidatingly long list that will be hard to start. Rank the items on your list. Whenever you add a new item, force rank it among the items already in your list. (Conversations debating the relative merits of things like skydiving versus safaris would be fun to have, anyway.)
3. Limit Your Goals
Less is more when it comes to the number of things on your bucket list. Keeping your list to a finite number like 10 or 20 will motivate you in two ways. First, when you do check off a box, you will feel like you made a lot more progress if your list is ten instead of 100 things. Second, if you want to put a new thing on the list, you will have to force yourself to complete (or drop) one of the things you have on the list.
4. Do Your List in Pieces
If ‘writing a novel’ is on your list, why not start by blogging or writing short stories. Maybe one of those will turn into your first book. (That is how I got a publishing deal for my upcoming book.) Maybe you will find out you would rather have something else on your list.
5. Schedule in the Gaps
As you think about potential big life events in your future, map those out and figure out where your bucket list might fit in. If you are planning to go to graduate school, for example, target the months before or after then as a time where you can do trips or other things that take more than a normal vacation time to complete. If you are planning on having children, think about what items you should check off before you take on the commitments of parenting.
While Millennials may not have been the generation that came up with the “bucket list” concept, they are uniquely poised to be the generation that crushes it.
Victor Prince is an author and speaker who teaches strategy, communication and leadership skills to clients around the world. Victor’s book, Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results, was named a Top 20 Leadership Book of 2016. His next book, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain, comes out in July 2017 from the American Management Association. Learn more on Facebook or at www.VictorPrince.com.