Beyond the Bucket List

Do you have a goal? Is there something that you’ve set your sights on that you are working towards, that you intend to get to, come what may? Certainly, there are those Ultra-Achievers out there who succeed because they are always setting goals for themselves. But what about those lesser souls who literally struggle from day to day?

My New Year resolutions have become boring. Too often, they’re the same old thing, year after year – lose weight, read more, write more, stick to an exercise routine. In fact, I reluctantly admit that there are many times I have to re-commit each day! What is it that makes some people more committed, more dedicated, more persevering than others? I’d sure like to know!

This train of thought led me to wondering just what it is I feel in my heart that I must accomplish before I die? What if I were told I had six months to live? What would I do? How would that change what I am doing today?  When Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in the movie The Bucket List, I think they created quite a stir within many people. So often, we go through life worrying about the immediate problems we encounter every day, that we take very little time to find peace and joy and true meaning in what we do. I think that movie caused many of us to wonder what things we wanted to do before we died. I did. In fact, I started a bucket list. It caused me to stop and assess what is truly important to me in my life.

I guess I want to suggest that you consider going one step beyond the bucket list, though. To me, beyond the places I might like to visit, or things I’d like to do, there is another level, a spiritual level if you will indulge me. Is your “house” in order? If not, do you feel a need to put it in order? Is there a greater goal you might have besides running your very first marathon? If you knew that you would be dead in six months, is there something you would change or do differently? Could you say today “I’m ready” with confidence?

I would like to suggest that the goal is not likely to be the same for everyone. For an alcoholic, it might simply be making it through one more day alcohol-free. For someone else, it may be starting a foundation to help African children with AIDS. I’m urging you to set your sights on a goal that is meaningful to you, and to keep moving towards it, whether you reach it or not. Perhaps promising yourself to do one kind thing for another human being every single day is your aim. The very fact that you continue to strive toward that goal – in spite of negative or unreceptive individuals – is what is really important. It is the journey – all of its ups and all of its downs –  and how you deal with those highs and lows that keeps you growing, that makes you a better person, and that takes you to the place where you can finally say, ”I’ve done what I can do. I am ready.” Making a bucket list, however, is a good place to start, and then spending some quiet time just – between you and God.

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The Prisoner's Prayer Book

Louise is author of The Prisoner's Prayer Book which evolved as she became a volunteer in prison ministry. Retired from a career in social services, Louise resides in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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