We have all thought about the places we want to travel to, the exciting adventures we want to take, or the risky or rewarding new activities we want to try within our lifetime. These are our personal, yet unwritten goals, and these goals create our bucket list. I found that my goals and my bucket list would constantly grow, but because these brilliant ideas were trapped in my head, they often remained there as things I wanted to do, but never came to life.
We all have busy lives, and the things that challenge us, like new experiences and goals, often get lost in the madness of life, to do lists, constant appointments and required activities. More often than not, the experiences that could bring us so much joy, personal growth and bring out the very best in us get lost completely. Eventually all those amazing, unspoken goals you created, get pushed to the back of your mind and filed under the forgotten.
If you find yourself wishing you had taken more risks, or like you’re not progressing in life. If you feel as if you’re stuck in a rut, life is passing you by and you are achieving nothing – this is your red flag! Listen closely to this warning, as this is the real you telling you that you need to take care of yourself. I’ve been here; completely lost, and putting everyone and everything else first. I was guilty of always choosing to push my happiness, health and desires to the back of the line. During this time I was completely unaware that the decisions I was making, were having such a disastrous and dangerous impact on my life. Continuing down this path would eventually lead to a life of regrets, sadness, and ultimately the loss of my self-esteem and the invasion of depression. Again, I’m speaking only of my personal experience and everyone is different, but sadly it’s seems to be a growing trend and an issue for men and women of all ages.
A life where you don’t bring your goals and dreams to life is one of emptiness, and it eventually becomes very lonely. I understand we all don’t have a never-ending supply of money, money that we can spend frivolously on vacation after vacation, but there are always other equally important goals, affordable activities and adventures you can take, and we all have things like these on our bucket list. Goals are essential to personal growth, whether they are as simple as reading a book every month, exploring a local walking trail, or signing up for a spin class. These goals keep us motivated and moving, they remind us that we need to continue to learn and grow, that you need to push the must do’s to the side for a couple of hours and take care of yourself. I cannot stress enough how important this is to your happiness and mental health. Forgetting to work towards my future and take care of myself, were the biggest factor contributing to my depression and self-doubt, second only to the loss of my niece.
I beg you to see how valuable new adventures and spending time taking care of you are. I hope you take my words to heart, because after weeks, months and years of ignoring my wants, goals and needs, I lost myself completely. I would wake every morning with little ambition, and no motivation to leave my home. I would pack my life full of work, chores and duties, until they consumed every moment of my life. I would work myself into exhaustion; pick myself and my life apart, until I became so wound up that I couldn’t sleep. I would lay in bed staring at the ceiling with tear filled eyes for hours, feeling like I was nothing but a failure. Eventually my eyes would become heavy and they would close, saving me from my worries, but only for a couple of hours. I would wake up early, and help my husband off to work before I would prepare and head into my job as well. This was a continuous cycle of exhaustion, tears, regrets, and work. I’m not looking for pity; I am responsible for my own actions and choices, my honesty stems solely from my desire to help others through their own difficulties and onto a more fulfilling journey. Also, I don’t want you to think my entire life was consumed with gloom, I would still take time to visit family, or head out to events and see friends when requested, but I would do absolutely nothing for me, and eventually the sadness and the darkness started to seep into the few remaining positive moments of my life I had left. My wakeup call came one day, when I realized my life had become hectic, crazy and out of control. I was stressed, overwhelmed and the activities that were planned for my week brought me nothing but anxiety and fear. The joy had somehow been stripped my life, I was busier than ever, yet I was accomplishing nothing for myself. My life was a perfect example of the “duck on the pond” analogy. On the surface, the duck and the water appear calm, in control and content, but when you look below the water, all you see is chaos, constant motion and work. I still have very fond memories and experiences from that period of my life. Every day wasn’t overwhelming, but many were, and all the moments of joy revolved around celebrations for others, adventures intertwined with others goals, and there were few days I spent doing things just for me. This was the day I realized my body was screaming at me, demanding me to pay attention to what I needed and what I wanted, as much as the people around me. This is the day I started pulling all those goals from that forgotten file and bringing them to life.
From that point forward I started taking more time for me, I started to focus on activities I dreamed of doing, embracing new challenges, and keeping track of new goals I wanted to achieve and activities I wanted to experience. At first this process of personal growth began simply by taking the time to put my goals, aspirations, and wants into words. I created my bucket list, and I wrote it down, all of it. I hung it up where I could see it and then I got to work. First, I focussed on an easy goal; once completed I crossed it off my list, and moved onto the next. As I achieved more, experienced more, my list became smaller, and I could visibly see my bucket list shrinking. This simple visual was the proof and the daily reminder that I was progressing, that I was achieving and I was growing. Some of the experiences on my list I enjoyed more than I could have ever imagined, and they quickly became a predominant part of my life. Others I truly enjoyed, but learned that one time was enough, and then there are others that still remain on that list to accomplish. These are goals worth working for, worth waiting for, because when I achieve them, I will be far more rewarded and inspired by the experience. These include goals like starting my own business, or travelling to Ireland, these take time, dedication and savings, and these are my big dreams. The bucket list coming to life is a simple, yet brilliant idea, it motivates and encourages, and I found as fast as I knocked items off the list, I discovered and added new ones. The journey of discovery, personal growth and taking care of you is a continuous cycle. As you discover new loves, new places, your mind will create new goals, will be inspired to learn more and your life will continue to blossom. My life is a life of learning, and it’s more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined.
I have recently started to adapt my bucket list strategy, as to make it a more predominant and artistic part of my life. I went to our local staples and picked up a large framed corkboard. As I read through magazines, newspapers, surfed on the web and discover new places I want to visit, new goals I want to achieve, I would simply cut out the article, image or description, and pin it to the board. This process is new to me, and my board is currently still being created, but it is a beautiful reminder of the wonderful journey I am on. I have gathered all sorts of trinkets, images, messages, written goals on random post-its, paper and pictures, and slowly but surely my board becomes a little fuller. This board has become a collage of my goals, my dreams and my intention for the future, constantly changing alongside my life. It has proven to be one of the best tools in my fight against depression and self-worth . Much like the bucket list, my “bucket board” (I guess that’s what we should call it) is constantly evolving, new things are added, and others are removed when completed. This process is beautiful, inspiring, and motivating, and every time I look at it, I’m reminded of how lucky I am and how important it is to take care of me. I love the path I am on now, and this little show of creativity and progress keep me on the right track, so I will never find myself lost in the darkness again. I am responsible for my own happiness and my own strength, and I recognize and embrace that fact every day.
I encourage you to take the time to listen to your heart and your mind. Pay attention to the goals, desires and dreams that are whispering to you through your thoughts. If you have trouble bringing your needs to the forefront, create your own bucket list or bucket board. Start slowly, and with simpler goals, break down your larger goals into steps so you can easily see you’re on your way to achieving your larger dreams, not just your simple goals. Whether big or small, every goal is equally as important and beneficial to improving your health and happiness. Fall in love with yourself and your freedom all over again, and take your first step of many on the path of self discovery, self-worth and personal growth.
I hope each day from this point forward is filled with new discoveries, exploration and achievement. I hope you realize how special you are, and that you deserve to be the happiest most fulfilled version of yourself. Life is short, so make sure you spend time doing things you love, and please keep dreaming and succeeding.