So, Christmas is getting closer by the minute. Soon many of us will be having awesome Christmas feasts, lovely family events and traditions, and everything Christmas may entail for you and your loved ones. Personally I love Christmas and the Christmas spirit. There’s just one problem. Christmas has become way too materialistic which neglects the more important aspects of the holiday and of life in general.
Let me tell you why, and get into the some really neat ways of making an even better Christmas for you and yours.
Drop the Christmas wish list, make a bucket list instead
For Christmas, so often you might get something you didn’t really need, or you had just kept reiterating that you didn’t need anything this year — “you got it all”. Of which — some of us at least — regret having said the days after Christmas. And the current notion of gifts is riddled with faults.
Did you really want that sweater grandma gave you? (No offense grandma). Or that third perfume you got? Of course, we should never take anything for granted and be happy about what we get, but what if there was a better way for everyone? A way that would result in much more meaningful and happy outcomes and interactions? Everyone wants to give something unique and valuable to their loved ones, and so is there a better way of approaching it all?
Well, doesn’t it make perfect sense to sit down and write a bucket list (a list both small and big life goals) and share this with your family and friends before Christmas, as opposed to a conventional wish list? IT SURE DOES.
If you’re unfamilar with what a bucket list is, and how you could create one, have a look at the Ultimate Bucket List Guide.
Here are the major reasons to why you ought to drop the Christmas wish list and rather make a bucket list to share with your friends and family. And even if wish lists is not really a thing in your family, or you grew out of that as you got older, a bucket list still makes perfect sense. Keep reading and you’ll notice why.
THE CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE
1. You will focus on what really matters
By writing and sharing a bucket list with your loved ones you focus on the more important long-term goals and wants in your life — as opposed to short-term materialistic wants. When you write a bucket list you focus on the larger aspects of life and the more inner wants and needs, as opposed to what items it “would be neat to get for Christmas”. That means, you focus on what really matters.
A mistake that many people do in creating their bucket list however, is solely focusing on travels and “adrenaline” activities. Don’t do that. Adddress all areas of life, such as family, traditions, health and wellbeing, relationships, sports, career, “why not”(random/silly goals), events, animal-related, and whatever makes sense to you.
2. Easy for family and friends to participate
Importantly, it’s fun for your family and friends who can pitch in, participate or help with your goals. Perhaps they know a window of opportunity or someone that can realize your dream(s)?
For me personally, as I’ve put out my list online and shared it with family, numerous friends and family members (and even strangers) have shared valuable input and information and contributed in many different ways. Some have shared tips for achieving a certain bucket list item. Some have outright offered an activity that I have had on my bucket list. Whereas some have reached out and said they would like to join me on a certain goal that we have in common. And so on, and so forth.
Make a brief bucket list in the month(s) before Christmas and share it with your loved ones.
For example, when my uncle found out that “to take honey from a beehive” was on my list, he invited me to his job where they make some honey. This was completely unbeknownst to me — so it was a complete delightful surprise and a great experience for me — but also a great experience for my uncle who could share his knowledge, show-off, tell his story, and feel that he’s work was both admired and appreciated. This would never have happened had I not shared my bucket list with my family. And tonnes of similar incidents has occured since sharing it.
3. It not only helps you; it helps your loved ones to help you
Did you get that mindscrew?! Well, by writing and sharing a bucket list you’re not just helping out yourself. Importantly, you help out your loved ones in their quest to get you something you really need or want — instead of your family just having to buy you some items just for the sake of it, and potentially going through the insecure phase and stress of questioning whether their gift will be appreciated or used at all.
Let’s put this in context. Imagine you’ve got a life goal of one day making a family tree (researching your heritage) as far back as possible — you’re most likely gonna put it off as there’s always something more urgent to do. But let’s say your significant other knew about this life goal — then there’s a chance they’ll follow up on this and put down significant effort to research and create just this for you — as a gift.
This was just one example, but think of the possibilities, I’m sure you can think of heaps of more.
4. You can give your loved ones something meaningful
Also, try to approach it from the other way around. Wouldn’t be interesting to know what you’re mom’s life goals and wants are? How great would it feel to help her accomplish some of those?! That’s why it makes perfect sense to make this a friend or family exercise where you share each other’s goals and aspirations.
Few things provide a lasting sense of happiness and fulfillment like giving to others. The experience of surprising a friend or loved one with an unexpected gift related to their life goals will not only make their whole Christmas, but leave you feeling great about yourself, and that joy will last.
Why You Need To Share Your Dreams And Goals In Life With Others | The Law of Attraction
5. Encourages experiences over material items & increases happiness
As bucket lists deal with lifetime goals, they revolve much more around experiences and bigger achievements than a Christmas wish list — which usually is filled with more short-term materialistic wants such as physical items and posessions. This is an important difference.
Because the thing is that experiences are keepsakes that keeps giving. They give an everlasting memory that you could cherish till the end of your days. Whereas, most items become obsolete and in so doing the associated value and memory of it gradually vanishes.
Research clearly shows, such as this journal article, that the associated happiness with experiences are vastly superior to the short-term happiness related to items, and that people feel that money is better spent when it’s on experiences.
Certainly, there are exceptions that apply to this rule of thumb, though. These include image books, family keepsakes, heirlooms, and things that you really, really need and all that falls within that category.
6. Goal-sharing leads to a happier family
As Merel Bakker puts forward in her article in Huffington Post, sharing and setting goals as a family activity is both important and fun.
Research has with overwhelming conclusion shown how children who knows about their family’s goals and history have a much stronger sense of control over their lives, has a higher self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. It turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness. Those children who had the most self-confidence had a so-called “intergenerational self” in that they knew they belonged to something bigger than themselves.
This is all down to what is referred to as “sense-making”; the building of a narrative that explains what the group (family) is about. In relation to sharing life goals, the management expert and author of “Good to Great”, Jim Collins, recommends that families also create a mission statement similar to the ones companies use to identify their core values, which will enhance the likelihood of a happier family.
7. Bucket list instead of wish list helps shy away from uneccessary spending
Due to the decreased importance of physical products when we perceive Christmas gifts in relation to life goals, this means that there is generally plenty of room for gifts and acts of kindness that don’t have to involve monetary purchases. I’ve already given you the example of “researching family heritage”, but plenty of other things can be achieved once we start to understand the greater life goals of our loved ones.
8. Sharing your vision and dreams has a positive impact
Emmy-winning broadcast journalist Joan Steffend discovered how beneficial it is to share your own dreams and desires with someone you trust. Most people who fail to manifest their vision fail to take this important step; they fear others will laugh at them or think their vision too grandiose. Or, they feel their dreams are too personal or that they’re selfish for even holding onto them.
First of all, sharing your vision makes it feel more real and believable to yourself. Secondly, sharing your dreams often leads to greater feelings of support as others acknowledge your vision and join in with encouragement. And lastly, it helps you gain greater clarity as you speak about your vision and as others ask questions and offer their insights and help.
9. It provides a filter for what’s important and what’s not
Life throws us in all kinds of directions and opportunities may pop up everywhere. However, such opportunities can quickly become distractions that precludes and takes you off course. The only real solution is to maintain a list of goals (a bucket list!) which enables you to properly evaluate the new opportunities that arise, and what you may want to get and experience for Christmas.
10. Sharing life goals increases accountability
If you choose to share your goals with friends and family members, then these can help you by regularly checking up on your progress. In effect, you become accountable to this person. This may be some kind of formal arrangement, where you specifically ask another person to check your progress, or it can be informal, in the sense that if you share certain goals (eg to spend more time with the kids or to start learning a language) these will naturally come up later in conversation.
For example, when Aunt Annie is asking you on a later Thanksgiving dinner: “How’s that bucket list thing going?” you naturally would want to give her some good news. Right?
11. Sharing and writing down your life goals will massively increase the chances of success
Research shows again and again that people are much more likely to avoid a regretful life and achieve their goals just by the very act of writing them down.
The problem is, most people don’t really bother to do so, and by only keeping your life goals in your mind, you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure as they are then significantly less likely to work out the way you intended. This leads many to drift through life aimlessly, wondering why their life lacks purpose and significance.
Writing down your bucket list is surely not the end-game. Writing down your goals is important for many more reasons:
- It forces you to gain clarity on what you really want
- It motivates you to take action
- It provides a filter for what is important and what isn’t
- It helps you overcome resistance
- It helps you to track and celebrate your progress and achievements
- It enables you to involve others and increase your accountability (which I’ve already touched upon).
- It continously reminds you about your aspirations
- Your goals become SMARTer (more Specific, more Measurable, more Attainable, more Realistic, and more Timely) if you write them down.
But so what do you say. Why not try to make a bucket list for this Christmas? And even better, why not make this a friend or family exercise?
You might still end up with socks as your present (and hey you may need it!), but you’re likely to receive help in any shape or form to achieve your larger goals as well, and the people that matters the most to you will keep these goals and wants in mind long after Christmas.
Jon | Bucket List Fanatic
BONUS1: Questions to help you get started
In light of the Christmas spirit, here’s a little gift to help you get started with your list. Either write down your answers independently and thereafter discuss the results with you friends and family, or talk through these questions together and write as you go.
- Where in the world would I like to visit?
- If I had one month to live, what would I do?
- What types of new foods do I want to try?
- What cultural traditions am I interested in?
- Are there any activities or sports that I want to try?
- What events do I want to attend?
- What has always been my biggest dream(s) in life?
- What classes have I always thought about taking?
- If money and fear were not an issue what would I do?
- Who have I always wanted to meet in person?
- What would I like to do with family and friends?
- In what ways do I want to do improve myself physically, mentally or spiritually?
- What skills have I wanted to learn or improve?
- Is there a charity or cause I have always wanted to support or get involved in?
- What was my childhood dream — is it still relevant today?
- What kind of positive impact and contributions can I make to the world?
- If I won a multi-million dollar lottery today, what would I do?
- If I were on my deathbed, what would be my regrets? (also see 6 Principles to Avoid Living a Regretful Life)
- What great habits do I envision having in the future?
- What travel stories would I want to share with my grandchildren?
- If I had three wishes what would they be?
- Is there someplace I have always wanted to take my spouse, best friend and parent?
- If I could change job or profession immediately, would I? And what would it be?
- What things am I telling myself “I’m too old” to do, but at the same time really want to do/experience?
- What would I like to say/do together with other people? People I love? Family? Friends?
- What do I want to achieve in the different areas, such as social, love, family, career, finance, health, spiritual etc.
- Movie scenes I would like to experience in real life
- Think about beautiful beaches, delicious meals, lavish vacations, crazy adventures and anything else that interests me.
For more questions to help you brainstorm, check out “Ask Yourself These Questions TODAY“.
Further inspiration can be gotten from viewing what other’s have on their list (such as my 1000+ bucket list, my free 5000+ bucket list ideas ebook, and my article about 25+ awesome bucket list blogs).
Remember, be sure to make the goals relevant and meaningful to you; don’t just put something on yours because other’s may have it.
BONUS2: General bucket list tips for after Christmas:
- While Christmas will be the initial trigger for your bucket list, you need to store your list in a proper place in the future, whether it be in an Excel sheet, in an online bucket list community website (such as www.bucketlist.org, www.reaperlist.com and www.bucketlist.net), or something else.
- Put your list somewhere you’ll see it often. If you just jot down your list on paper and toss it in your drawer you’re not likely to ever follow up on it. So, put some of your goals on the fridge, on your computer desktop, or anywhere else that might make sense to you. Just make sure it’s visible.
- In the future, be sure to include deadlines on various goals to make you much more likely to achieve them (e.g. 20s/30s/40s bucket list, 2018 bucket list, summer bucket list, and so forth).
- Also, life goals tell you where you want to go — so you need to plan how to get there. Take action and do minor steps towards them.
- For more tips for the further development of the bucket list, see the Bucket List Guide, and be sure to subscribe to my blog.
That concludes the tips. I hope you found this content helpful. If you have any questions then don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, I’ll be sure to answer them ASAP.
Jon Pedersen is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, and passionate adventurer fanatically obsessed about his bucket list and the founder of BLF. Besides occasionally sharing bucket list worthy experiences from around the world, he also seeks to offer tools & resources to enable you to really live life to the fullest — which you can read at www.jonandrepedersen.com