No doubt you have seen the film The Bucket List, the idea which has inspired many people to review what their most important tangible goals are.  Climbing a mountain, running a marathon, having a sports car, visiting a certain place, learning something new and so on.  Many bucket lists and plans tend to be focused around things, going, doing, seeing and having, and there have been many words written and spoken about achieving those things.  However, as I recently learnt, there is a far deeper, more meaningful aspect which is easily overlooked and forgotten!  Read on….

We build a list of ’10 places to visit before you die’, ’10 things to do while you still have the time’ and so on. Inthis particular article I recently wrote, not only did it tie in, what for me what I perceived to be the pinnacle of my present life plan, but also outlined the 3 fundamental questions which we at Serenity work around to figure out what it actually is that matters most to people.

The first question, imagining that you have all the money you could need, it as far as many people go with their bucket list – “I would buy this, own that, travel there, stop work” etc. 

The second one focuses more on a reduced time horizon for life, and generally is the final stop for many of these ’10 things to do’ type lists. 

The third question, is the one which examines who we really want to be, what we really want – and the one, which can usually only be explored with a skilled planner.

So, I set off on this journey, pursuing my goals, and there are a number of things which I have learnt along the way, which I hope will benefit my clients…

1. Don’t just have a tick list of things to do – when we have this, what happens once they are achieved?

2. There are always reasons why you want to do things – explore behind the ‘doing’ to find the real reason – which I now call ‘being’ .

3. The people in your life are also part of this – it’s easy to go off on your own charter forgetting that there are very few mind readers.

4. The experience is fluid – it is not a movie which we can just switch on.

5. Ultimately, life, and your plan is a never ending journey – focus on the way of travelling NOT just the destination and stops along the way.

Read on...

1. Don’t just have a tick list of things to do - Take running a marathon, once that is done, do you stop running?  Once you have had the holiday of a lifetime, do you stop holidaying, once you have built or developed the ideal house, do you become complacent about it?  If you were to become a senior manager of where you worked, would the name badge be your goal?  Look beyond the tangible things  

2. There are always reasons why you want to do things - Take running a marathon, is it bragging rights you are after and to get a medal?  To have a focus to keep you training to improve your overall fitness, or to push yourself to the max?  Similarly, with travel, is visiting places just an opportunity to say ‘cross that one off your list Margaret’ or are the deeper experiences, memories, understanding and experiences to have?  What would that ideal house give you, more than a big house to look at, but perhaps a haven a home, the space for your family to just be. Finally, achievement at work – is the name badge and title really all that matters, or is it that you inspire and lead continually, rather than just puff your chest out feeling important all of a sudden. Once you know the WHAT you want to do, ask yourself WHY you want to do it, and what if you didn’t so it.

3. The people in your life are also part of this - My plan, my goals, my vision.  That’s all great, focus is a wonderful thing, but not to the detriment of all of those around you. Training for a marathon requires a lot of compromise and balance with your family.  The ideal holiday, has to be agreeable with everyone else, and then the key is not to lose sight that it is also their trip and experience as well – just because it was on your list, does not mean that your view on what should happen is the only one which counts. The house – it’s again key to allow everyone to enjoy it, to find their own spaces, enjoyment, way of living.  Overall it is a home, and one for people to feel safe and loved in, not just a pile of building materials.  Pursuit of a career without recognition of everyone else leads to huge unhappiness in many families.  Leaving home at 7am, returning at 6pm – really, what quality of life is that, and sometimes, it is easy to kid ourselves that we are doing it for everyone else.  If you died today, guess what, your boss would replace you tomorrow! Always remember who will most likely be by your bedside when you die.

4. The experience is fluid - It is great to have an idea, a vision of what it may be like, but remember, that is in your head – it is your reality, but not anyone else’s.  A sub 4 hour marathon may need to become a 5 hour one,  the holiday may be slightly, or even very different from what you had imagined, the house may not be a new one, but a renovations, a different location, anything could change – what if it is a red door instead of the blue one you had dreamed of?  It’s just the portal to your haven – not the end of the world! What if you don’t become a director or senior manager of where you used to work, but rather found something very different elsewhere?  Not the pin-striped suited meeting in a glass clad office, full of ego and materialism, but a real influencer, someone who made a difference – to others not just the owners bank balances? Go with the flow, like a river, the twists and turns often bring the most unexpected joy and happiness.

5. Ultimately, life, and your plan is an ongoing journey - Life is an ongoing development, change, adaption, and experience.  Yes, of course it ends one day, but life as it is, is ongoing journey, something constantly changing. Take the marathon, maybe it is a shift to a healthier lifestyle which is the key, yes, the desire of a medal or running for 5 hours is the catalyst, but it is the shift which is the deeper aim. The travel may be to enjoy experiences, to enhance our understanding of the world, to create memories and to have happy times.  Picking destinations is the catalyst.  The house may be to create a safe haven a family hub, a place where you can all be together, and the career may well be to make a difference to others, which once we understand is not necessarily done with name badges, starts to release that attachment and ego. Life is not a list of achievements, it is a sense of feelings, of messages.

Life  is who we are being along the way. So when you compile your bucket list, 101 places etc, start to look examine the reasons and feelings – that’s what we do with our clients at Serenity Financial Planning and is why our way of working is very different from just saying  ‘cross that off your list Margaret’.