Only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, according to the University of Scranton (2012). I couldn’t find any research specific to bucket lists, but I imagine that the success rate isn’t as high as we list makers would like to hope. (If you find any stats on this, I would love to see them!) Many theories are floating around the internet as to why people fail to reach their goals, such as being afraid, lacking motivation or commitment, procrastinating, distractions… the list goes on and on.
How can we beat the odds?
It starts with goal setting. I recommend setting SMART goals. Top Achievement has tips for setting, and achieving, your SMART goals. The acronym stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
Breaking down each item on your bucket list into smaller pieces can help you actually achieve that goal. For example, Mind Tools describes how you can break a long term five year goal into several smaller steps to make it more manageable.
One of my own goals (#39) is to write a book. It’s a common bucket list item and something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a lovely idea.
But is it SMART? Let’s find out!
Write a book by the time I turn 30 (December 25, 2018).
Measurable? Not exactly…
How am I going to measure my progress? Unlike some items on my list (like going ziplining), I can’t just wake up and decide to cross this off my list that day. This is one of those goals that needs to be broken down into smaller chunks. I’m going to start with a tiny goal of setting aside one hour every week to write.
This goal is attainable. (Notice that my goal is to write a book, not publish one. Getting a book published is a feat in itself. I’m going to start with writing it, and once I reach that goal, I’ll consider going further.)
I am willing to work towards this goal. If I want it enough, I can make it happen.
I have a deadline. I just need to follow through with my weekly writing goals.
Now my lofty goal of writing a novel actually seems possible. Think about your own life goals. What is something that you have wanted to do for awhile, but haven’t? What can you do today to bring you closer to that goal? Little steps are still steps. Don’t let your dreams stay dreams.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”