It’s time to build a list that matters to you, and as you do, don’t let anything stand in your way, including skeptical friends and colleagues.
With so many day-to-day responsibilities, it’s easy to postpone your dreams, both professionally and personally. I am guilty of that. I had become so set in my ways that my bucket list was more virtual than real. I would identify that next great adventure without truly venturing outside my norms.
So, it came as a shock to my family and peers when I announced that I had booked a snowshoe trek in Yellowstone earlier this winter. The natural assumption was that I was not long for this world or was suffering a midlife crisis. The reality was that I finally decided I wanted to accomplish my dreams.
Your bucket list should encompass your personal as well as professional dreams. On the business side, that may include ownership transition, acquisitions, or new offices. On the personal side, it may involve travel or hobbies. Whatever is on your list, you need to stop simply creating a list and do something about it.
- You must decide to change. It is easy to get comfortable with a routine. So, it is up to you to shake it up a bit. Nervous about taking those first steps? Look at other events in your life and recognize what hurdles you have already overcome. It really boils down to this: How much risk are you willing to take? For the Yellowstone trip, I was concerned about the challenges as the description built up the physical requirements, and there were numerous health-related questions on the application. So, I set up a training program and my fears never materialized. As you visualize what you want to happen and empower yourself to make that happen, you build the confidence needed to complete your plans.
- Understand what you need to do. Perhaps your list includes a number of “must do’s” not “just do’s.” Understand why those items are important to you. Put a schedule together that ensures that you will pursue and complete those items first. Once you decide you are moving forward, then build the plan necessary to be successful. Planning is a basic part of our jobs, so you should be able to plan the implementation of your list.
- Check off what you want to do with others. It’s okay to be inclusive, but don’t let others deter you if they fall short of meeting that commitment. Friends might jump at the opportunity to share in your bucket list, but don’t despair if they pull out at the last minute. Pushing through on your own is just part of the commitment to yourself. The same is true of your business bucket list. Your partners may not agree or want to jump into something new but weigh the risks and keep moving forward. If you look at the most successful business role models, they looked beyond the naysayers and just did it.
- Share your list but be prepared for the reaction. Admittedly, those who know you may wonder, “Why now?” And ask, “What happened?” If you are that predictable and routine in your life, be prepared for these reactions. Wanting to do something different than the norm does not mean that you are changing who you are or what you stand for. It simply means you want to do something different and challenging. If you clearly understand your motivations, you can share that with others and get them involved in your support network.
- Implement, implement! Once you have determined your list, implement it. Do not give up on yourself. By pursuing and completing your goals, you show others that they can empower themselves and do the same thing. You become a more complete leader by example. You are setting the tone for others so that, if they feel they have boundaries, they might see those limitations as self-imposed. All of us have examples of people who worked all their lives with the caveat that they would get to some adventure or pursuit later, but they never made it to that finish line. Do you want to be that person who died at their desk and never even tried to accomplish their one ultimate goal?
- Know that your bucket list may change. Odds are your bucket list will change over time. I know mine continues to evolve. As long as you are breathing, you are never too young or too old to add to or check something off your list. Don’t let age be a defining thing for what you want to do. Don’t let financial responsibilities impose restrictions. And don’t look back with regret.
There is a ripple effect as you start to fulfill your bucket list. Others will engage, and there is a social power that comes with this engagement in both your business and personal life. Your family and peers will start to ask what is going to be next? I will let you know what is next for me from atop Mt. Washington next January as I complete my next adventure.
Stephen Lucy is CEO of JQ with offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Lubbock, Texas. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.