Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Why Encouraging Employees to Achieve Their Bucket List is Good for Business

What is on your bucket list? Do you have one? It turns out that having and doing the items on your bucket list is good for productivity at work. Wait, what is that?

You probably heard of a bucket list (a list of things you want to do before you die) after watching the movie, The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The movie prompted many people to create their own bucket lists.

As leaders, we need to encourage bucket lists.

For most people, bucket lists are dreams they want to achieve or activities they want to try. What stops people from doing what is on their bucket list? Too much fear and too few resources.

A bucket list is like a personal strategic plan. (To get my totally free copy of Your Personal Strategic Plan workbook go to: employees learn to manage both, they are better able to embrace and fulfill their workplace strategic plan.

The same skill sets apply.

Overcome procrastination: Is your workplace strategic plan up to date? Are you reviewing it as often as you should? Are you taking steps to implement the strategy?

Just like your business strategic plan, if you have been putting it off, now is the time to put pen to paper and start your list. Brainstorm about everything you really want to accomplish. Many people get sidetracked when making their list because they consult their friends and family and they ask, “What do you want to do?”  A bucket list should be personal and meaningful to the person making the list. The whole point of the exercise is actually doing the things you want to do.

Create the action list: Once you figure out what you want to do, like any strategic goal, you have to figure out how to get there. That means prioritizing the list. It means putting the most important at the top, and the least important at the bottom of the bucket. We want to do what is most important, even if it is tough. Especially if it is tough, because doing tough challenges give us a greater sense of accomplishment. With some groups we color-code the items on the list based on the level of difficulty using highlighters. Easy is green, what is a little tougher and requires more resources, yellow, and what is challenging and worth it, blue.

If you need inspiration for generating your own bucket list, here are some ideas from a group of medical administrators. We encouraged them to think big and to think about all the things they dream of doing.

  1. Travel to Tuscany to take cooking lessons.
  2. Learn how to knit or carve wood.
  3. Re-read a classic book, like “War and Peace” or “Atlas Shrugged.”
  4. Volunteer for a mission in Costa Rica.
  5. Go an entire week without television.
  6. Go to a musical on Broadway in New York City.
  7. Leave a $50 tip for breakfast for two.
  8. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail.
  9. Run a marathon. Or a 5K.
  10. Visit all fifty state capitals.
  11. See the Grand Canyon.
  12. Learn to speak Japanese.
  13. Camp out overnight in the backyard with the kids. Make S’mores.
  14. Take a vacation alone to a place you have always wanted to go.
  15. Go on a road trip with friends or family.
  16. Spend a day at a health spa.
  17. Go vegan for a month.
  18. Cook ten new recipes in a random cookbook.
  19. Take guitar lessons.
  20. Walk two miles a day five days a week for three months.
  21. Learn to sail and then go sailing.
  22. Tell your brother/sister/spouse/partner/dog/cat they are the best in the world.
  23. Experience Machu Picchu.
  24. Visit the pyramids.
  25. Have a margarita in San Antonio. Or San Diego. Or make your own.

It is tough to encourage people to think outside of their daily routine, but it spurs creativity.

Free yourself to daydream. Think about what you want to do – take trips to your favorite destinations, experience something you have only read about, or accomplish something of substance in your life.

Once You Have the List, Now What? Actually, Fulfilling the Items on Your Bucket List

After you make the list, go for it. Each week or month, strive to carry out an item on your bucket list. Then cross it off your list. You can add to your list as you think of other activities you would like to do before you are no longer on this earth.

There is nothing like a bucket list to remind you what it is like to really experience everything life has to offer. You will become infused with energy and excitement at the idea of achieving another activity on your bucket list. And you will go through experiences that you never thought you would just by having a bucket list.

Start your bucket list today. Doing the things, you have always wanted to do will inspire you to live your absolute best life. With your bucket list, you might be compelled to discover an existence you did not think was possible.



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