All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do. ~Zachary Scott
To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. ~William James
A few years back, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in the movie The Bucket List. The plot followed two terminally ill men on a road trip with a list of things they wanted to do before they died. While the movie received mixed reviews from critics, the theme of the movie drew people in. The Bucket List opened number one at the box office, and grossed nearly $100 million domestic, and over $175 million worldwide.
That such a theme would resonate with audiences should not come as a surprise. For ages, poets and philosophers have written about the brevity of life. Hundreds of years from now, it will likely still be a theme discussed. While different people have different ideas on how we should spend our time on Earth, a common connection between these ideas is the maximization of that time.
The Dreams of Our Youth
In our culture, thinking about what we want to accomplish in this life starts in our youth. It is extremely common for children to have dreams about what they want to be when they grow up. Occasionally, teachers will ask kids to make lists about what they want to do when they grow up—and the dreams on these lists are big! Owning the Yankees, starring in movies, curing cancer, and buying the M&M Company were a few I can remember on my list.
Somewhere along the path to adulthood, our dreams tend to shift. The little boy who dreamed of being the second baseman for the Dodgers now dreams of becoming manager of his department. The little girl who dreamed of curing cancer now spends her time hoping that she will get a four-percent raise at the end of the year. Another child who dreamed of playing the guitar in front of thousands of cheering fans now spends his or her time thinking about getting to 10 years of service for their company so they can get a couple of extra vacation days. These scenarios are far too common.
This writer isn’t smart enough to fully understand why the dreams of so many die along the path of life. I do know that the world is marred with negativity, and those that are closest to us are often the worst offenders. Be aware of people who want to kill your dreams. There is nothing worse than a friend or loved one killing your dreams. This is wise advice that we should all remember.
Whatever the reasons, it is time to call upon the imagination of your childhood. Your time on Earth is precious and limited, and there are undoubtedly still things you want to accomplish, things you want to do—perhaps even time for you to become the person you want to become. If you are even tempted to put on your list that you want to become manager of your department, then remember how unimpressive that would have sounded to yourself as a child.
Creating Your Bucket List
Creating a list of things you want to do in this life—your own bucket list—can be a highly energizing and rewarding activity. Perhaps the little boy in you that wanted to be an NFL quarterback now wants to run his own company. Perhaps the little girl in you that wanted to cure cancer now wants to make enough money where she can donate millions of dollars to the charity of her choosing. Whatever you put on your bucket list should be big, be at the heart of what you truly want to do in life, and should have no limitations.
This list is not a list of moderate, incremental goals. There is a time and a place for that. This truly is a dream list. This should be things that, if you don’t accomplish, you will regret at the end of your days. As such, there is no room for moderation or playing it safe on this list. If you’re the kind of person who has no guts, you just give up every time life pushes you. If you’re that kind of person, you’ll live all your life playing it safe, doing the right things, saving yourself for something that never happens. Then, you die a boring, old man.
No Room for Can’t
If you take some time to make this list, you will likely realize that you have many things you want to do. Unfortunately, there will be that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you your dreams are foolish or too big, or tells you that you aren’t good enough. There will be moments where you might fear, “I can’t do it.” The word can’t makes strong people weak, blinds people who can see, saddens happy people, turns brave people into cowards, robs a genius of their brilliance, causes rich people to think poorly, and limits the achievements of that great person living inside us all.
Do not limit yourself in this life—do not fall into the “I can’t” trap. Whatever time you have left, maximize the talents that you have, and fulfill the dreams and passions of your heart. While obstacles are presented, there are no limits to what you can accomplish in this lifetime. Creating your bucket list can be a special activity, one that allows you to revisit the imagination of your youth coupled with the goals and desires that you have as an adult.
Don’t wait till you are facing your end, like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s characters did. Take this opportunity right now to start writing down a few things you have always wanted to do, or things you have just recently realized you want to do. Don’t be embarrassed or scared—write down whatever comes to mind. Once you understand what it is that you really want to do, you can start taking the steps to get there.