“Every man dies, not every man really lives” (William Wallace). Are you really living your life?
It’s so easy for us all to get caught up in the flurry of day-to-day life and our long-term plans that we often completely forget about our short-term ‘here and now’ goals. “Happiness is a journey, not a destination” according to Ben Sweetland and I couldn’t agree more.
Making sure that you do the things that really make you feel alive throughout your life is as important as planning how you’re going to live when you’re old, grey and retired.
I call it a bucket list with a difference. Instead of making it a typical list of ten or so specific activities that you may or may not achieve each year, take this slightly different approach and make it your own. It’s good to revisit these lists, as I wrote the original article a few years ago.
1. Get your adrenaline going
Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone and gives you that adrenaline rush. An extreme thrill…skydiving, diving with sharks, bungee jumping, BASE jumping. The sort of thing that when you get to the edge, you question why am I doing this?!
What will push you to the limit? For me, it was skydiving. I used to get a buzz every time we flew to 1300ft and then left a perfectly good aeroplane.
2. Visit somewhere new
Go somewhere you have never been to before. It could be as distant as the Mongolian plains or as close to home as the Scottish Highlands which I hear are breathtaking!
I managed to visit Mongolia this year and encompassed the adrenaline and road less travelled all in one visit…..I spent a week travelling the plains of Mongolia on a motorbike staying in local Gers along the way.
I got caught up in James Clavell’s novels when I was young. Ever since I read Shogun, I have wanted to visit Japan and China. Last year I was lucky enough to take my family to Japan and pass on my passion to my sons. It was something I’ll never forget! China is still on the list so I’ll keep you updated!
3. Take the road less travelled
Do something out of the ordinary. It could be following in the footsteps of Ewan McGregor on a motorbike, driving across a desert in a 4×4, sailing across the Atlantic, or exploring the African bush on foot.
I have been fortunate enough to travel across the Middle East in between its troubled times, so I would love to see my next adventure on the high seas.
4. Give yourself a physical challenge
Push your physical boundaries further than you would ever have thought possible. Whether it’s finishing a 5km Race for Life run, the 251km Marathon des Sables, or one of the muddy challenges held throughout the UK, the exhilaration and satisfaction you feel when you realise what you are capable of is a great confidence booster and life elixir.
5. Learn a new skill
There is something to be said about devoting time to learning a new talent like playing an instrument or speaking a different language. The frustrations of the often torturously slow learning process eventually give way to an invigorating sense of achievement.
If you can’t fit in a regular time to visit a teacher try one of the online learning hubs like Frethub for those aspiring rock guitarists amongst us. Log in when you have a bit of time and progress at your own pace – you could surprise your family and friends by learning secretly! The satisfaction you’ll get will be fantastic.
I had my musical gene removed at birth but still believe that there is an instrument in me somewhere. One day…..
6. Go to an event you have always hankered after
Turn “I would love to see/go to…” into one of your life’s highlights. See your deity in concert or at a sports event, go to a rave, Glastonbury, or even Mardi Gras.
I have seen one of my musical talismans perform, and have been to a rugby world cup final. It seems that I chose the wrong year to visit a world cup final, although I think I may have enjoyed this year’s semi-final more! France next time – a little more doable as closer to home.
7. Experience something contrary to your natural leaning
Do something that may lead you to question your own beliefs and assumptions. Maybe try going vegan for a month, or live in a foreign land for more than what can be classed as a holiday.
I travelled first class for the first time a few years ago. OK, so that’s not a big game-changer but I would never pay for it directly. Collecting air miles over the years allowed it to happen. It was fun to see what I have been missing out on and great to see the family loving every second. It won’t happen again!
I am a few weeks into not eating meat. I am not sure where it will end up, but I can only see it as being positive. I will let you know on the next update.
8. Be altruistic
Do something random that makes a difference to someone else’s life, and expect nothing in return. Give blood, give time, give money…just give. Anything big or small. Regular or one-off. Maybe take the family to give out sleeping bags and warm food to the homeless by volunteering with a charity. It will have a big, feel-good impact on you and those you are selflessly helping.
I used to coach a junior rugby team in my spare time, with the hope that the players would prosper despite my interference. I found it really rewarding, more than I ever anticipated. I have now stopped the rugby coaching, but have started helping with a cadet force, and also helping out with a charity.
9. Expand your knowledge
Have you ever wished you knew more about a particular topic? It could be about the Great War, some other moment in history that has shaped our world, or even your own family tree and how it has shaped who you are.
There is something about education that lets the endorphins flow, enhances the conversations we have, and broadens our understanding of life’s rich tapestry.
10. Make it memorable
Stop procrastinating and just do it! Make your bucket list, don’t compare it to others and share it only with those who are important to you and/or will help make it happen.
Having served in the military I am a fan of failing to plan is planning to fail. The problem is, when I tick something off my bucket list, something else appears…but what a great way to live!
My life is not measured solely by these events, but they are events that I will always remember. Hopefully, my family will too and perhaps even instil in them the sense of adventure that I have and that I value in others.
So why is a bucket list important for financial planning?
Financial planning isn’t just about achieving your end goals; it’s about the journey you take to get there and what you personally (not just financially) want to achieve on the way. Having a bucket list can often remind you of what you are saving for, and offer a much-needed reward for keeping going when you wish you didn’t have to.
As you can imagine, I’m not recommending reckless spending! We all still need an emergency fund, but savings should be enjoyed, dreams should be turned into reality, and achievements should be celebrated.
I’m a little bit of a Land Rover fan and they have a saying “One life. Live it.”
What’s on your bucket list? Let us know by adding a comment below.