Valerie Testa Almquist is an: author, educator, comedian, mother, wife, and daughter. Performing stand-up when she turned 50, and publishing her first book, LOOK BACK MOVE FORWARD, at 57, her accomplishments increase with age. Look Back Move Forward is sold on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Enjoy her other inspirational and entertaining Growing Bolder blog posts: “Strong Roots and White Go-Go Boots: An Awesome Combination,” “A Purpose: Vital at Any Age,” and “Older and Wiser: Like Precious Jewels, One’s Value Increases With Age.”
Recently, my husband and I were in the Pocono’s and I mentioned to a shopkeeper this was our first time there. She replied, “Now you can cross this off your ‘bucket list’.” I smiled and kept private the fact that I don’t have a bucket list. I have goals, but no bucket list. One might ask, what’s the difference? Short-term goals require me to stay focused on the present and live in the moment expending effort toward accomplishing those goals in a timely manner. My short-term goals are the gateway to crowning accomplishments including published works, performing stand-up, and spending time with family and friends.
My concern with a bucket list is when it’s synonymous with saying, ‘Someday.’ It can cause one to procrastinate, instead of, pursuing desired objectives. I cringe when hearing someone say, “Someday I’m going to look for another job. Someday I’m going to start exercising. Someday I’m going to be happy. Someday I’ll visit my parents. Someday…” Instead of putting things off until an unspecified date, that special, life-enhancing day should begin today because tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.
If someone doesn’t cross off everything on a bucket list, does that list become a regret list? Is that life now viewed as unfulfilled because Mount Everest wasn’t climbed, or that trip cross-country never happened?
In the movie, The Bucket List, two very ill men become friends after sharing a hospital room for a period of time. Together they pen a bucket list and travel to different parts of the world, crossing off each spectacular experience. Even the Great Pyramids could not induce the contentment these men could only find after returning home to loved ones. As a promise to a dying friend, one character finally visited his estranged daughter and met his granddaughter for the first time. He didn’t need a bucket list to reconnect with his daughter; he could have accomplished this long before his ominous prognosis.
I understand some folks keep a bucket list full of future plans like skydiving, flying in a hot air balloon, bungee jumping, writing a book, running a marathon, or traveling to a specific destination. Perhaps it’s a diversion from the mundane, stresses and responsibilities of daily life. When doggie paddling through life trying to keep one’s head above water becomes exhausting, the bucket list serves as a life jacket. Sometimes, putting words on paper adds significance and commitment to plans, in addition to, being a permanent reminder. If a bucket list offers hope and something to look forward to, it serves a purpose, as long as the present isn’t wasted obsessing over ‘someday.’
I think dreaming about accomplishing a goal, whether it’s personal or professional, is a healthy and necessary mental exercise. Oftentimes, we dream it first before physically planning a course of action. Whether you call it a bucket list or a goal, what’s important is taking steps toward accomplishing the end result ‘today’ not ‘someday.’
“Don’t be afraid to live life, …” (Look Back Move Forward, Almquist p.116)