The very words “bucket list” can stir up some pretty heave-duty fears. Defined as a list of things to do before you die, it can be a reminder of our own mortality, and death is typically something we would rather not think about. But, the reminder that our time is limited is actually one of the best gifts we can be given. It is one that can guide us to achieve what is most important to us before it is too late.

Life is short.

We fuel our bodies with food, our minds with education and our hearts with love, but new experiences and dreams can nourish our spirit in ways that nothing else can. Whatever your goals or dreams are, there are benefits to turning them into a bucket list, a well-crafted one can push you to lead your version of an ideal life.

On top of a mountain in central Greece

1. Forces You to Look at What You Really Want

Many people will live their entire lives without having any idea as to what they really want. They will follow societies conventional expectations of getting married, working the same office job for the next twenty years, buying a home and having children ­– all without giving it a second thought because that is just what they are “supposed to do”. But, if that path is not their true passion then life will end up leading them, instead of them leading their life.

What do you want?

The process of writing a bucket list forces you to take a close look at what it is you truly desire, to analyze where you are versus where you want to be. It very well may be the career, children and home, etc., but it may also be something entirely different.

When sitting down to contemplate what your future will look like, your dreams and what type of experiences you want to have will be brought to the forefront. By asking yourself what you truly want, setting goals and consistently reexamining your goals, you gain a self-knowledge that will propel you in the right direction.

What to Wear to Jordan in the Middle East

2. Gets you Excited

Many people’s sleepless nights are the effects from having a mind filled with countless tasks for the next day. But, what if what kept you up at night were thoughts of planning your dream vacation to spend the night at a Bedouin camp in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert or going back to school to study French viticulture, what you are truly passionate about? Then being awake would be because of excitement, a reason to get up early in the morning and stay up late at night.

When you are stuck in the rut of day-to-day life, it can be difficult to get excited about the day that lies ahead. A bucket list gives you a reason to spend that extra hour a day working, putting meaning behind the extra effort because the additional money will be why your dream of ice climbing in Iceland will come true. It can create an excitement deep in your soul and exposes the passion you thought you had lost many years ago.

Annette White playing on the train tracks in Switzerland

3. Creates Focus

A bucket list will give you a sense of direction that allows your mind to focus on the target, instead of getting sidetracked dawdling on social media or watching reruns of the Kardashians (I am admittedly guilty of that sometimes too!). It will help you determine your end goal and the steps that need to be taken to get there, keeping your eye on the prize. For example, without a clear career focus, you may just take every promotion opportunity given, switching departments and ending up as the executive production manager, when what you really wanted was to be a marketing director.

Without clear goals it’s easy to get diverted, heading in multiple directions and years later ending up in a place you really never intended. Even with goals, if you cannot remain focused you will lose momentum, which will lead to a loss of motivation and ultimately failure at achieving the result you desire. But with your bucket list you will be able to continuously refer to it in order to reenergize your focus. 

Annette White at Borobudur Temple Yogyakarta Indonesia

4. Motivates You

Without motivation, your dream will be nothing more than that; it is the necessary energy that pushes you to accomplish your goals. Motivation is why race car drivers win trophies, business owners become millionaires, and it is the main reason that this is a successful blog.

In order to truly get motivated you need to know what you really want, and writing a bucket list will help to determine exactly what that is. These goals will then be the root of your motivation. Also, having any sort of list naturally inspires you to want to cross things off of it, whether it is simply your weekly grocery-shopping list, daily to-dos or a bucket list.

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5. Pushes the Boundaries Your Comfort Zone

It has been said that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, so then why are so many afraid of stepping outside of it? I will tell you why. Being inside your comfort zone minimizes stress and risk, keeping you at a low anxiety level. This makes it very easy to never push the boundaries, because it’s pretty darn comfy inside the safety of your little bubble.

Everyday activities like taking a shower, cooking dinner and going to work don’t create any apprehension because they are familiar. Whereas flying across the world, eating strange foreign foods and not speaking the language of an area will undoubtedly cause trepidation.

Unfortunately, if you stay inside of these boundaries you’ll be missing out on the incredible benefits of taking a risk. It can lead to personal growth; expanding your mindset, teaching you valuable lessons, increasing your confidence and limiting regrets. Once you step out of the norm once it can lead to a snowball effect, where each consecutive time gets a little bit easier and your comfort zone expands bigger and bigger.

That’s when the world is truly at your feet.

Annette White showing her muscles at Glass Beach Fort Bragg , Mendocino

6. Makes You Feel Accomplished

There is a new gallon of milk in the fridge, the children have taken their baths and dinner is on the table. You sit back with a glass of Cabernet and relish in the success of the last eight hours. It feels really good to finish your daily errands, there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that you completed everything you set out to do for the day. Just imagine the triumphant feeling after you’ve walked the 500-mile El Camino de Santiago or skydived over Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.

The sense of accomplishment can truly be overwhelming.

Accomplishment gives you a feeling of pride, which in turn builds self-esteem and increases life satisfaction. When you are living the bucket list life, you will be continuously making checkmarks next to your goals, and getting the addictive feeling of success often.

What to Wear to Jordan in the Middle East

7. Makes You More Interesting

Think back to some of the most intriguing people you have met at a dinner party or event. They were probably ones who were following their passions, traveling the world and/or overcame an obstacle to achieve a goal.

With a bucket list you will have personal stories from around the world and extraordinary things you have done to contribute to the conversation. Plus, for me it’s much easier to join into a conversation because when a person begins to talk about floating in the Dead Sea or going wine tasting in Tuscany I have either done the same or have a relatable experience.

Annette White Hiking Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala

8. Keeps You Active

Sitting home night after night on the couch leads to a sedentary (and very boring) life. Things like kayaking with beluga whales in Canada or snowshoeing through Glacier National Park in Montana gets you off the sofa and keeps you moving.

Besides a few random Pilates classes my bucket list is my main form of exercise, because there is always something adventurous on it. Some days will involve training for a 5k race, while others will take me to the golf course attempting at an elusive hole in one.

When the goal is centered on traveling, traipsing through airport terminals and exploring city centers by foot could easily rack up the 10,000 steps a day that many of us try to achieve (my record was 29,000 or 14.5 miles while hunting for the Khamthiang Market in Chiang Mai).

Annette White at Essa School in Tanzania Africa

9. Creates a Legacy

What stories do you want to tell to your great grandchildren? How would you like to be remembered? What example do you want to set for future generations — one of a life full of passion, following dreams and having meaningful adventure or one of regrets? We all want our lives to matter, one that serves as an example for what a truly incredible one can be.

A bucket list can help you to be an example to others.

When you are following your passions and accomplishing goals you will leave an inspiring legacy of your personal values for future generations. Family, friends and even strangers will remember the best parts of you and be inspired to follow in your footsteps.

Bucket List Journey: Annette White at Haulover Bay Bar & Grill in Exuma, Bahamas

10. Allows You to Dream Bigger

Typically when people create goals for themselves they are influenced by their current financial situation and personal time restrictions. They are usually thinking about things short term, instead of their entire lifetime.

A bucket list is an invitation to dream bigger.

When the time limit is before you die, instead of this month or year it opens up the possibilities. It encourages people to put on it all the things they have ever thought about doing while taking away the limitation of fear, time and money.

Bucket List: Annette White swimming at the Raja Ampat Dive Lodge

It’s time. Make a bucket list and fill it with dreams that have no boundaries; things that scare the daylights out of you, makes you pee-your-pants laugh and inspires you to be a better version of yourself. Keep it close, and refer to it often as a reminder to never forget your dreams.

What’s on your bucket list?

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