We all have dreams, right? I don’t mean the thoughts that go through our minds when we are asleep, but rather the desires that drive our lives. Surely everyone has things they are striving for in one way or the other?
I was talking to my colleague about this on the train back from Manchester today as he has just started writing his bucket list. He spoke of how when he started to try and write the list of things he aspired for that he really struggled. Identifying exactly what we want from life when we have a clean slate can be quite difficult I guess. Go on, try it.
Got some ideas? Now really challenge yourself; are they truly your dreams, aims and goals? Or are they in some way influenced by what you subconsciously think you should do, maybe based on friends, family or popular culture? My colleague gave the example of wanting to own an Aston Martin. At first he thought it showed that he was materialistic, But then he thought about it some more and realised it was not the car he wanted, it was the experience of driving a fast car. So this bucket list item morphed into driving fast cars around a track.
I think it’s really interesting to consider whether what we are dreaming of is really what we want, or how much is dictated by social constructs. We are all influenced by society, friends, perceptions of ourselves and so on, but each of us is affected to a different extent. The idea that our long term, or even short term goals, may not actually be ones that will make us happy is something which feels alien. Surely we all know what we want, what we enjoy doing, what we want to see? I also think it’s key to acknowledge that what we want to be can change. When I was younger I was not remotely bothered about seeing the world, but now it is my top priority. It may not be in the future, and that’s OK. We adapt, we learn, we grow and we re-prioritise. But we should be on top of that; aspire to do what makes you happy!
Even if we are able to correctly identify what we want to achieve in our lives we are still human; we put up barriers! The idea that we find excuses not to achieve something, whether it is a bucket list item or just an everyday task. In the same way that we may decline following through on our plans to go to the gym “because I’m tired” we also create mental barriers to achieving our wider dreams. I bet when you write a list of life goals that most of them are achievable. The largest barrier is likely money. Travel costs money. Buying a house costs money. Everything costs in this world! But if we really want to achieve something which we cannot do immediately we should plan for it! For example, a small saving a month could mean that in 10 months time you’re able to book that trip to Switzerland to go skiing (one of my current plans!). I think it’s about making progress feel manageable. Smaller targets are easier to achieve than one big one at once.
But, to maintain this long-term approach to completing your bucket list requires determination. You have to want to do the things on the list. Ideally you will have already evaluated the things on your list to make sure that they are what truly drives your happiness. If not you will struggle to motivate yourself to achieve them, particularly the more long-term ones which inherently require more time and effort to achieve. I find a good way to improve motivation is to share it with people; bootcamp with my colleague means I actually go! Sharing your dreams and aspirations means you’ve presented them to the world, and you should be accountable to meet these targets. After all, you’re happiness is on the line and you only get one chance to build as many happy memories as possible!
The conversation today has inspired me to start writing a bucket list. What do I want to see, do, and be in my lifetime? I have a few ideas already, but I’ll definitely share on here once I have a list which I have thought through properly. Do you have a bucket list? What’s your number one dream?