The Epic Summer Bucket List

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How Setting Short Term Goals Motivate Me To Achieve More

photo-1473496169904-658ba7c44d8aOne of the important things you can discover about yourself is how you learn, and what motivates you. I can still remember a powerful conversation as I sat in anatomy and physiology class after I had been teaching a number of years. 

The student  next to me found out that I was a teacher and said, “It’s not fair,  you already know how to learn. And, are motivated to do it.  Tell me the secret.” 

I thought about this for a moment, and realized that it doesn’t feel fair or inspiring when you don’t understand what works for you. It was interesting to have the opportunity to explain to a new college student , that learning is personal, and she would need to find out what worked for her.  I explained that after experimenting with a number of different methods (giving suggestions like flashcards, re-writing notes, graphic organizers, watching videos online, drawing pictures, using mnemonic devices;  would allow her to find what would help information stick. photo-1481627834876-b7833e8f5570

Once her best method of processing information was identified, she should use it every time she needed to learn something. Little by little, she would see success, and that would motivate her to do more.  

For me, writing and rewriting with pencil and paper works. I remember rewriting my notes several times and then requiring myself to repeat the words without looking at the paper.  As far as motivation, for me it happens when I hear people talk about things that excite them (in particular travel, books or ideas they want to share, races and fitness plans).  I get really excited scrolling through Instagram  or Twitter, and seeing what people are interested in.  Usually my mind ends up exploding with ideas!

Surrounding myself with high energy people propels me forward.   I have also realized the name that I choose for something is really important.  When I use the words, “To Do List”, I am bored. But, it feels exciting, almost like an epic quest when I use the phrases, “Extreme Challenge, or Bucket List”.  In the end, is the energy that attracts me.  I don’t care what someone is excited about; if he or she enjoys talking about it, and really cares about it, I cant’t help but get excited as well. 

photo-1524850011238-e3d235c7d4c9My lifetime bucket list has over 100 things on it.  Everything from: Travel to Spain, run a half marathon with each of my kids, touch an elephant, watch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, learn French, write a book, go white water rafting, complete a mud run, work at a bookstore or library, and run the Boston Marathon finds a line on the list of what I would like to experience during my lifetime.  

I have always been interested when people talk about bucket lists.  In 2008, I watched, “The Bucket List, where two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.”  Seeing Morgan Freeman pull a list of things out of his pocket peaked my curiosity. It was at that point, when I decided I wanted to have a bucket list.  I have stored ideas in my head for several years, but last year decided I should write everything down so that I could start crossing things off. 

Long term goals are certainly admirable.  But, goals that can be accomplished in less time can inspire a person to grow more than he or she imagined. 

photo-1484480974693-6ca0a78fb36bA few days ago, I read something from personal growth expert and author, Mel Robbins. She suggested doing a Summer Bucket List.  My first thought was to create a simple Summer Bucket List that included things like jump off a pier at the beach, visit downtown Lexington, build an epic sand castle, watch the fireworks, go strawberry picking, as well as anything else I want to make sure we did over the summer. 

While I plan to fulfill a Summer Bucket list, after a run one morning, I had a whole new perspective on how I could use the concept of a short term bucket list to motivate me. Cue The Survivor Music,  light the torches on the wall and let the excitement begin.  The Epic 2019 Summer Fitness Bucket List is here. 

Epic 2019 Summer Fitness Bucket List

  • Follow Hansen’s Marathon Plan 
  • Run a 70 mile week
  • Do a plank for 3 minutes
  • Do 30 consecutive push-ups 
  • Do one pull-up 
  • Break 50 minutes in a 10K
  • Break 23:30 in a 5k 
  • Run a 6:55 mile
  • Break 1:23 in a 10 mile run

Summer is the perfect time frame (60-90 days) to see progress on goals.  Sometimes breaking goals down into smaller pieces helps a person to gain momentum.  It works well for my own kids over the summer when I ask them to set a reading goal for the next 24 hours. 

I find that they are excited to tell me about how they crushed their goal with hours to spare. With a goal that has been immediately accomplished, they are okay setting a new one right away.

Before creating a bucket list, the most important thing is to be honest about where you are starting from. If goals are set based on where a person wishes he or she was, progress might be seen for a really long time, and at the same time motivation might be lost.  There is a sweet spot with setting goals. They need to be out of reach enough so that we feel accomplished when it is complete, but yet not too hard that they feel so distant from where we are. 

I like to start with a small goal, or one that might be the easiest to accomplish.  Once it is checked off, then that goal is modified to make it a little more difficult, while starting to chip away at the other goals.  The 2019 Epic Summer Bucket List will continue to evolve until school starts.  In addition to fitness, I am considering using the short term bucket list method for my role as a mom, teacher and writer. I wonder what would happen if I created a weekly bucket list when I go back to school.  Or, tried out a monthly bucket list with each one of my kids over the summer.

Maybe another reason the bucket list works for me, is that it is specific and intentional planning attached to timeline that forces me to be accountable.  There is no grey area.  

Do you have a  bucket list? What’s on it?  Do long term or short term goals motivate you? I would love to hear what works for other people.   

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