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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On making a bucket list

After the movie of the same name came out in 2007, I have heard the term “bucket list” thrown around quite a bit. I never considered making one for myself until I attended an executive seminar in September along with a few of my other CEO friends and our spouses.

We were told we had 20 minutes to make our list. The goal was 50 items. I was able to write down 38 things I want to do “before I die.” Others in our group struggled to think of 10.

Then I got the following email from a client over the holidays:

“I don’t have too much left on my list. This year I have been helping people do things they never thought possible. It makes me feel good when I see the reaction on their faces. Currently I am in a leadership class at my company, and last month’s class was on doing our bucket lists. I started on my bucket list in 2001 after getting diagnosed the first time with melanoma cancer. In my class I had everyone in tears, not on purpose, as I explained to them that they should be working on their list long before life deals them a shot and then they have no time to do the things they always wanted to. I live each day like it’s my last and I enjoy making those around me happy."

Whoa. That email stopped me cold. I read it aloud to my daughter at dinner as it came across my BlackBerry and we paused and took a deep breath.

…Make the list BEFORE life deals you a shot. Help other people do things they never thought possible…

I am now rethinking MY OWN bucket list. The majority of the things on my list are about me, a few of them are about helping others. I think I want to be more balanced.

Have you considered making your own bucket list? Besides the regular items like “Visit Morocco,” and “See the Great Wall of China,” what about including things like, “Helping out at a homeless shelter several times a year,” “Mentor a student or another colleague for THEIR benefit.”

I keep my handwritten and dated bucket list right on my desk. In the next month, I will have crossed off two items on my original list. I know it will feel good. I’m sure I will be adding a few things to my list this year.

I hope you’ll take a moment to start your own bucket list. And keep it nearby, as you never know when a great idea will come to you.

Happy New Year!



  1. I recently created a website where visitors can create their own personal bucket lists online for FREE:

  2. Another great plateful. If it’s a homeless shelter that you are interested in, I’ve got the perfect place: WisePlace (formerly YWCA) in Santa Ana, CA. It is transitional housing for homeless women. Great place, wonderful staff. They must maintain their counseling, job, savings account and pay a small amount for rent. Then we help them get into affordable housing rentals – not easy in Orange County.

  3. Karen! HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I Loved this one. I agree, helping others helps us in so many beautiful ways. That is why a portion of my book sales are going to help Human Options to continue helping women and children have richer lives.

  4. Melanie here! I enjoyed this piece, please email me--I have a question about your blog. MelanieLBowen[at]gmail[dot]com


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