Remember when you were a kid and looked forward to life and adventures — trips to the beach, flying in a plane, sleep-away camp, fishing, horse back riding, visiting an amusement park or the zoo, taking an art class, birthdays, Halloween, adopting a pet…

Then you became an adult. Life became a drag, a moving treadmill fueled by your bottomless to-do-list. Rather than jumping out of bed to seize-the-day, you hit snooze hoping to hide from the world. Everyone else’s needs came first, leaving you burnout, stressed, and overwhelmed. Fun? Self-care? Exploration? Pleasure? Forget about it. You’re too exhausted and have no time.

So many of the women I work with initially feel this way. I felt that way for a long time too. Then I empowered myself and transformed my life. (Click HERE to read more about it.). I stepped out of my comfort zone, into my brilliance, and became the person I wanted to be. Now I’ve created a life I love that’s filled with passion, meaning, and adventure.

There are an infinite number of ways to dump the slump, start having fun, and feel vital and energized again. One of the best is to create a bucket list, the weirder and more wonderful the better. Your list can contain everything and anything you want to see and do before you die or “kick-the-bucket.” I know it sounds like a cliché or a silly buddy movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Please release your prejudices and preconceptions because starting a bucket-list will change your life.

Writing down what you would love to do and accomplish sends a powerful message to yourself and the Universe: “This is who I am and what sets my heart on fire. I deserve to be happy and fulfilled.” The list, especially if you make it public and find accountability partners to play with, will help you realize more than you ever believed was possible. Not only will you manifest what you want, you’ll get your groove back, find your brilliance, and live without regrets.

“A mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes.

I keep a running list on an erasable calendar in the kitchen. When I think of something I want to do, I write it down immediately. My man, Beau does the same thing. I write in blue, he writes in black. Then we transfer items to a running list on my computer

My list contains easy, doable items – belly dance, go tubing, take karate lessons, and bake gluten free goodies. (I have a type of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto’s disease and can’t eat gluten.) It also contains big, audacious dreams – write a bestselling self-help book for women at midlife, live in a farmhouse, and visit Japan.

The act of writing the list is energizing and empowering because it ignites your spirit; harnesses your imagination; and connects you with your passions, deepest wishes, and desires. Each time you cross an item off your list you build self-confidence and self-efficacy. Accomplishing something and enjoying the process spurs you on to tackle more items.

The first thing I crossed off my list was learn karate. Okay, this one was easy because Beau is a 6-degree black belt and martial arts instructor who had an extra karate uniform that fit me perfectly. Then things got magical. A few days after I wrote, “learn karate” and started practicing kicks, chops, and spins, a company called Wellness Amplified contacted me. They wanted me to write a sponsored blog about T’ai Chi, a gentle type of martial arts practice. (You can read the blog post HERE.) Researching the post inspired me to take my karate practice to the next level. I earned my purple belt and discovered hidden strengths that fueled a new level of confidence. Next I tackled snowshoeing and now that summer’s coming, I’m kayaking and brewing kombucha, a type of fermented tea.

As you write the list look for connections that point to larger dreams. For example, my client Valerie’s bucket-list included: “learn French,” “spend time with my grand nephew,” “visit Paris,” and “make new friends.” After we wrote the list together, she realized that her ultimate dream was to live part time in Paris and take care of her French speaking grandnephew. Her bucket list has inspired her to sell her current business and start a speaking and writing business that will enable her to work virtually.

Creating a bucket-list is magical, plus it’s easy and fun to do. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Write

Write down everything and anything you’ve EVER wanted to do. Don’t wait. All you need to start is courage – literally a path with heart.

You can write on a white board, in a notebook, or keep a running list with you. When you think of something you want to do jot it down. Make it crazy, fun, silly, outlandish or serious. Get inspired. Use your imagination. Learn to surf or play guitar. Watch a Mardi Gras parade. Go skydiving. Meet Oprah or Obama. Ride a zip-line. Visit a deserted island. Kiss your lover at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Chase butterflies at the Singapore Changi Airport Butterfly Garden or see tulips in Holland. Run a marathon or participate in a triathlon. Swim with dolphins or sea turtles. Bake a pie from scratch. Perform stand-up comedy. Tie-dye a T-shirt. Be on a cooking show, Jeopardy or in a Hollywood movie. Become fluent in Italian. Travel to Peru and hike Machu Picchu. Go on an African safari. Write a novel…

Make it about anything and everything that has meaning for you. Be unrealistic. You’ll achieve more. Think small, big, and broad. Include all the facets of your life. It’s helpful to list items in terms of categories such as:

  • Things to do with family and friends
  • Places to visit
  • Events
  • Food and drink
  • Charity
  • Self-care, body, and health
  • Personal development
  • Experiences
  • Hobbies
  • Knowledge
  • People to meet
  • Dreams for my business or career
  • Creative endeavors

Another trick is to think about things you love like hiking, eating amazing cupcakes or watching NASCAR races. Then extrapolate: How could you do or make something yourself? Consider activities that you think you could never do. Ask yourself:

     What audacious act would make me feel like a bad ass? or

     What have I always wanted to do that scares me?

Put these items on your list.

Employ the Internet. Do a Google search using key words like “The most beautiful places in the world,” “How to learn to draw,” “fabulous places to hike,” “most famous works of art,” “amazing desserts or deserts” or “fun crafts.” See what comes up.

Read about interesting people, places and things: Check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love; Stalking God by Anjali Kumar, or Becoming Wise: an Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett.

Ask questions:

     If I won the lottery or had a year to live, what would I do?

     What did I always want to do as a kid?

     What were my dreams? What would my perfect day look like?

DO NOT SENSOR YOURSELF. Yes, your fearful self will chime in with:

      Yes, but you could get hurt or die trying. 

     Where will you find the time or money? 

     What will people think?”

Tell her to relax (or SHUT UP) and reassure her that you’re safe. It’s just a list… for now.

Dwell in possibilities. – Emily Dickinson


Step 2: Get accountable

There are a number of ways to do this. Find a friend who also wants to create a list and do it together. Use a site like Facebook to publish your list online or share it on your blog. Tell everyone you know about your fabulous list, or e-mail it to 10 people and ask them to follow-up with you each month.

Step 3: Act

There are an infinite number of ways to get started. What’s key is: Just do it!

Pick one item on your list and figure out how to make it happen. Write down all the things you might do to accomplish it. Create a timeline. Set an intention to do it, visualize yourself doing it, and be open for opportunities. Then take a step big or small that will move you towards your goal. For example if you wrote, “Speak Italian” you could go small and get an app to learn a word or sentence everyday. Or you could go BIG and book a trip to Rome.

Here’s how it works. I wrote down kayaking along with buy, rent, or borrow a kayak and places I wanted to kayak in Vermont and around the world. Then I imagined myself Kayaking in gorgeous locations. Several weeks later I was in Florida visiting my parents and bingo there were free kayaks available close to where they lived. I took my Mom kayaking for her birthday (it was also on her bucket list). We had a blast peacefully paddling through a mangrove forest. When I got back to Vermont I decided to buy a kayak. I started pursuing Craig’s list for used kayaks and a couple of weeks ago Beau and I bought a bright red tandem kayak, a car carrier and a couple of life jackets. We’ve already been out paddling several times. Yesterday we scoped out Little River State Park and discovered several gorgeous places to kayak and camp (another item on our bucket list.)

Inspired? Get some paper. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and write down 20 things you’ve always wanted to do. Don’t get frustrated if you only come up with 10. Continue writing over the next few days and weeks. Keep a running list in your pocket or on the refrigerator. Don’t stress. Creating your personal list is about expanding your life not constricting it. Relax. You can’t do it wrong.

Take control of your life and convert your dreams into concrete goals. What are you waiting for? Jot down a few things on your bucket-list and share them in the comments box below.

PS: Want extra juice to take your life from okay to great! Sign up for my Healing Circle: MIDLIFE REBOOT.

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