Betterment Through a Bucket List

I know that it’s the holiday season and it is supposed to be festive and happy. And, it is.

However, I am a planner and I generally try to be a step ahead. That means I am already thinking about the future and the things that I want to do in 2020. If you are the same, let me give you a piece of advice: keep your focus on the bountiful possibilities of the future.

I made the mistake of looking backwards as I was going through my annual masochistic routine of planning my New Year’s resolutions. Here are some of the resolutions that I published in this space four years ago, with their disappointing outcomes:

  • Learn/practice a Czech word or phrase every day — No.
  • Keep a daily journal of thoughts and ideas — No.
  • Win an international creative writing contest — No.
  • Run 1,000 km — Yes, 1,032 km in 2016. Don’t ask about 2017, 2018 or, especially, 2019.
  • Complete numerous home-improvement and “Honey Do” projects — Impossible.
  • Eat two pieces of fruit each day — No.
  • Visit more museums, theaters, and musical performances in Brno — Yes, and definitely worth it.
  • Take the wife to at least one new Brno restaurant each month — Impossible because of young children.
  • Shave every day, dress better, iron my clothes and shine my shoes — No, no, no and no.

They were all so well intentioned! Nevertheless, they just fizzled out or never even got started.

It’s like the saying goes: The road to your current overweight, out-of-shape and non-Czech-speaking self is paved with good intentions. Or something like that.

* * *

The poor success rate is one of the reasons why most people don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions. It is why I should stop making them. Yet, I feel like I always need some kind of goal to keep me focused.

Perhaps, there is another strategy for personal betterment. Maybe a slight change to the framing of the tasks would help. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, how about putting together a Bucket List?

A Bucket List is where you identify all of the experiences that you want to have in your life. Common entries include places to visit, events to witness and experiences to have.

My Bucket List is heavy on sports. I have attended a World Series baseball game, gone to the Kentucky Derby and visited both the French and US Open tennis tournaments. I won’t bore you with the rest of the sports items.

I’ve been through most of the American national parks and 46 of the 50 states. I’ve seen the Mona Lisa, the Roman Colosseum and the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. I ran a marathon. And Milan Kundera signed my copy of “The Joke”.

But there are so many more things to do, and Brno is smack dab in the middle of Europe and within reach of many of the wonders of the world. Should you need some inspiration, here are the items on my Bucket List:

  • Witness a stage of the Tour de France;
  • Go to a professional ski race;
  • Climb the top peaks of the Vysoké Tatry in Slovakia;
  • Hike through the Austrian and Italian Alps;
  • Attend an opera in the Wiener Staatsoper;
  • Pay my respects at Auschwitz-Birkenau;
  • Visit the Acropolis of Athens;
  • Publish a short story in a literary journal, or a book;
  • Run another marathon before I turn 50;
  • Finally make time to fully enjoy “The Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace.
  • Watch more ballet and opera and symphony performances here in Brno;
  • Revisit all of the Brno museums, especially the Moravské zemské museum, which I’ve never actually visited (I’m a terrible Brnoan, I know!); and
  • Fix up my backyard, including building a shed.

The tricky thing is that many of my Bucket List items require the fulfillment of items that I regularly include in my New Year’s Resolutions. I have to be in shape to climb mountains, hike long distances and run a marathon. I’ll even have to dress nicely and shine my shoes if I go to a classy opera.

Maybe framing the tasks by including them as part of a Bucket List will be enough to get myself in shape and start shining my shoes.

(Probably not, but it’s worth a try.)

What is on your Bucket List? Skydiving? Scuba diving? Flying in a helicopter? Performing a stand-up comedy routine? Visiting ­­­­____(fill in the blank­­­­)____?

Please share your plans for the future, be they New Year’s Resolutions or items on a Bucket List. Give us some specific ideas. Inspire us!