When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now? — Max Lucado
So life has been crazy the last few weeks. With Christmas and New Year’s, I have been working 80 hour weeks and have been having problems finding the time to write.
Sorry for the excuses, but I do have something for you … a poem. It’s short and simple, but full of meaning. You can find the original here and be sure to check out the other writings of Jackson Dean Chase.
It doesn’t have to be the right thing,
the perfect thing-
it just has to be some thing.
Something you mean to be good,
to matter to yourself, to others.
Doing that one thing
It moves you forward
into the Light.
—Jackson Dean Chase
I don’t like the idea of the New Year’s Resolution.
Frankly, I think the whole notion is counterproductive. And a study headed by Richard Wiseman of the UK justifies this claim. In 2007, a group of over 3000 people were tracked, as well as the progress toward their goal. Fifty-two percent of the cohort were confident they would achieve their New Year’s Resolution; at the end of the year, 88% had failed.
An 88% chance of failure? Wouldn’t it be fair to assume that this number should be lower? Why wouldn’t there be more success among people who have 365 days to achieve a set goal?
I find the New Year’s Resolution is a fad more than anything. Social norms state we should all celebrate the new year by having a goal we can talk about on New Year’s Eve. But should the change of the calendar really be our motivation? Can a change in the calendar be motivation enough? Apparently not … for 88% of us, at least.
That’s where my problem with this tradition lies. Why do we need a specific day on which we can decide, “I want to change myself”? Why is January 1st any better than March 10th … or July 17th … or August 7th … or December 26th?
Why can’t we motivate ourselves on any random day instead of letting the changing of the year motivate us? This is why the failure rate is so high—outsourcing our motivation makes failure inevitable. If you have a real goal in mind, you’ll go for it, hell or high water … regardless of the date on your Pug-A-Day calendar.
So if you must have a New Year’s Resolution, let it be this: over the next year make several New You Resolutions. If you want to change, if you want to improve yourself, start now. Whenever the fancy strikes you, go for it … and certainly don’t wait until next year to start striving toward your goal.
Now, with that rant out of my system … ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! (I’ve been working on my Spanish … and it’s not even January 1st yet!)
Let fear be a counselor and not a jailer. — Tony Robbins
My late mother made the greatest cookies. Sugar, peppermint bark, no-bake, chocolate chip–my cousin still claims her copy of that recipe is missing a secret ingredient (I have no idea what she’s talking about). My mom’s cookies were famous with the family; not just the immediate family, but the whole of our extended family.
My favorite by far were her Fudge Puddles–cookie dough baked with a deep depression into which a fudge filling was poured. Mmmm…delectable…
My brothers and I had an inside joke with our mom when it came to this particular cookie. We didn’t call them Fudge Puddles. Given the general shape and filling color, we lovingly referred to them as “shit in a bucket.” How the expression came to be, I don’t remember, but it’s hard to imagine those cookies being called anything other than “shit in a bucket.”
The reason I bring up the memory of my mom’s cookies is because I feel there is another bucket-concept that is infringing on the name of my favorite cookie…and that’s not cool.
Are you familiar with the expression “bucket list?”…I don’t doubt it. It has been famously portrayed through popular culture–there was even a movie…it was called The Bucket List.
In case you missed it, the concept is to keep a list of experiences you want to have before you kick the…well, you saw where that was headed. As you accomplish those goals, they get crossed off the list. This seems satisfying, upstanding, even ambitious, right?
Well, sorry pop culture…I disagree. You’re doing it wrong.
Imagine laying on your death bed, in some lonely hospital room, staring at the crumpled and faded piece of paper that you first transcribed your bucket list onto several years before. There are 20 items on the list and you have only managed to cross off 11. Well, damn–there are still 9 items you didn’t get to. That’s disappointing. As tears begin to well up, you ball the paper and toss it in the general direction of the garbage can. But don’t worry, because you’re empty bucket is there to catch the tears.
Is that really the way you would want to go out? Yeah, me neither.
So, I propose this list be restructured. Instead of being goal oriented, it should focus on achievement. In other words, don’t come up with some random list you are going to focus on for the whole of your life–improvise, add to the list as you go and only as you achieve.
This makes a lot more sense, for several reasons.
First, go back to that hospital room where your taking the last breaths of your life. You pull out the crumpled piece of paper and start to read through the entries. The degree of fading varies across the list and produces a gradient of ink intensity that demonstrates how items were added one at a time over the years. The gradient even holds true across the different colored inks the various entries have been written in. Smirking, you climb out of bed and take your bucket to the window…there you turn it over and stand on it to get a better view back over your life. Look at all you’ve done. There are some incredible items on that list, all of which bring a smile to your face, a joyful tear to your eye. Ahhh…what a life.
Now…which of the two death experiences described would you prefer? Yeah, me too.
Second, the updated concept of this list fosters spontaneity. The old version doesn’t necessarily hamper spontaneity, but it’s difficult to act on a whim if you’re too concerned about crossing off item #11. But when potentially anything can make the list, things remain a lot more interesting.
Third, people change. Yes, even you. As a twenty-something college graduate, you might want to walk down the Great Wall of China or learn a second language. As you progress into your thirties though, maybe an awesome entry for the list would be “start a family.” In you sixties your list might include buying an RV. Can you imagine a twenty-something globe trekker buying an RV? The updated concept not only allows, but embraces this change, this progression of perspective.
The fourth and final reason is what I consider to be the most important. You’ve got to have passion. It’s too easy to imagine doing something extraordinary and stop at putting it on a list. I wonder if, when you transfer that dream from your soul to that paper, you aren’t transferring some of your passion with it.
It’s easy to write a list and say I’ll get to it next year…I’ll get to it after I’ve accrued some vacation time…I’ll get to it after I get that promotion…I’ll get to it once I’ve retired…
…sure you will.
I completely believe that you’re not full of shit to the point that you’re overflowing with it and filling up your bucket.
When faced with a blank list though…with all your ambition and vigor bottled up…a bottle that’s shaken violently by the excitement and fervor of a long-held dream…the top is bound to pop…and the rush of emotions it brings will carry you forth toward that dream and that list entry.
So please, let’s revise our conception of the bucket list. Let’s tip our pails and dump out the shit we know we’ve been shoveling. Instead of writing a list that encourages complacency and stagnation, let’s work on one that will challenge us and encourage growth. Isn’t being challenged important? Isn’t personal growth important? Isn’t it important to be able, at any point in your life, to look back and feel satisfied?
But let’s not get sidetracked here…the most important reason to wipe our hands of the shit we’ve been shoveling into our bucket is too clear up this concept and return the untarnished status to the name of my mom’s cookies–”shit in a bucket.”