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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bucket Lists

I’m not sure if the term “bucket list” predates the movie by that name or if I was just not aware of it. Or maybe my ADD just won’t let me think that far into the future. I don't know when I'll die or what direction I'll decide to head between now and then. I know I don't want to do or be the same thing "forever." While I do have a few things on the long-term plan list (live in Europe again, possibly Spain, live on a sailboat in the Caribbean), mostly I can't think that far ahead. Who knows when I'll decide something isn't as important or interesting as I once thought it was?

But I do have my own lists of things I want to accomplish. What I call those lists are my “to-do this year” lists. Every year in December, I would look back in my journal or day planner, where twelve months earlier, I’d written what I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming year. Items that I hadn’t done carried over to the new list. I’d also have my decade list: By the time I’m 20, 30, 40 I want to have done x, y, and z.

When I was twenty, I wanted to get my bachelors and masters degree and become a real, working marine biologist, take up running, and later in that decade, return to the VI to live. I also wanted to write and publish a work of fiction. When I was in my thirties, I wanted to get my Ph.D., learn to speak Spanish fluently so that I could move to Costa Rica to work, run a marathon, travel, and write and publish a novel. When I turned forty, I wanted to live in a foreign country, return to a job that was fulfilling, and write and publish a novel.

There were other items on those lists; things that I could and did accomplish in a year, or things that I’ll have to work on forever. Swim more, eat healthier, drink less, be the kind of wife my husband deserves. But the one item that has been on my to-do list since I was a kid, writing and publishing a novel, finally got the big check mark next to it! Aside from moving to Costa Rica (which continues to carry over each year), I’ve completed all my to-do items.

That doesn’t mean I’m done. It just means I have to think of more things to do now. It’s early to start planning this year’s list, but I have.

  • Complete the draft of novel #2, edit it, and start looking for an agent or publisher
  • Continue to improve in the craft of writing
  • Go on vacation to Costa Rica (I’ve downgraded for now, at least until I can convince Matt that it should be on our list)
  • Travel

I used to list the countries I wanted to visit, but one of the best lessons I learned living in Germany was to not limit myself when it comes to travel. If you have the chance, GO! There are new and wonderful things to do, see, and learn everywhere. It’s the places you don’t know you should go to that offer some of the best adventures. So, I won’t say where I want to travel to, only that I want to go. If the opportunity presents itself, I’m there, wherever there is.

Now, if I really want to put a check mark next to the first item on that list, I’d better quit procrastinating and get back to that manuscript I’m working on.

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