I like to think of happiness as existing on two planes. Within the first plane you work to find a state of equilibrium in your everyday existence by learning how best to manage career, family, eating, exercise and free time to establish a baseline of contentment. The other plane is the bigger stuff—it’s that nebulous realm where you go to feed your spirit. To tackle this plane, it takes a bit of dreaming, trusting, and leaps of the faith variety. But the most important thing it takes to get your arms around that lofty life you wish to lead is completely counterintuitive. It’s planning.
Planning! Such a mundane process leads up to life’s exalted experiences. The language we like to use when we talk about accomplishing those big goals—namely, dreaming, trusting, leaping and believing—trick you into thinking think there’s magic involved. There isn’t. You have to actively go after everything you want. Which is why you need a bucket list that’s illustrated so that you can picture what it looks like—and plan to make it happen. Oh, and remember that sustaining healthy behavior—things from that first, everyday plane—for a long period of time can also be fair game for bucket list items.
What’s a Bucket List?
Lots of people think of a bucket list as everything they want to do before they die, starting now. Ready, go! Well, that’s daunting. Instead, think in terms of the next ten years—and look back at the last ten too.
Make Your Bucket List
Begin by making a list of things you want to accomplish in the next ten years—or whatever time span you choose. Start a working document on your computer, a list on your smart phone, or just use a notepad to jot down your ideas when they come to you. Make sure you give yourself at least a few weeks to mull over your ideas. Take a little time, too, to reflect on the things you’ve done in the past decade that you’re proud of.
Why You Should Illustrate Your Bucket List
In our world of constant interruption and inundation with messages from the outside, it’s more important than ever to take the time to look inward and really flesh out what’s important to you. By adding visuals you not only remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing, you give yourself a concrete reference for what success looks like so you know for sure when you’ve arrived.
Create Your Bucket List Mixbook
Once you have a list that includes at least twenty future plans and at least a few accomplishments already under your belt, start creating your Mixbook bucket list photo book. I used the White Portfolio theme and chose one simple photograph to illustrate my dream front and center. For the things I’ve already accomplished, I added a picture and the date I completed them. For the things I have yet to do, I added an inspiring photograph (grab pictures from the web, scan them from a book, or borrow from a friend) and a brief list of action items that will take my bucket-list item from lofty dream to concrete plan. When you make your list, be sure to include some big items that take months of planning, plus a few items that you can start working on right away. Having mini successes will help keep you motivated to continue.
Leave Room for Additions
Because the nature of a bucket list is that it’s ever evolving, leave a few blank pages in the back of your book so you can add items at will. You can also always update and reprint your Mixbook bucket list, so when you complete a juice cleanse, publish your first essay, summit K-2, or run your first marathon you can add some action photos to illustrate your accomplishment.
Flip Through Your Bucket List Photo Book Often
Having a tactile object that reminds you of your goals in a way that’s completely personalized is an incredibly powerful tool. We all get hungry for inspiration once in a while, but instead of picking up the latest fitness magazine, another travel rag, or—worst of all—perusing other people’s accomplishments on Facebook, you’ll pick up your bucket-list book and reinforce what you’re working toward.