An Organized Approach to Stretching

Bucket List

Building on the previous topic, here is a strategic approach to investing in and stretching yourself.

Step 1 – Define Your Goals

You may be familiar with the concept of a Bucket List, a list of 100 things that you would like to do before you die. In this case, your list should consist of things that you would like to accomplish and that require you to step outside of your normal routine. For instance:

  • learn a foreign language
  • develop an app
  • write a book
  • create a podcast
  • learn to skateboard
  • learn CPR

Identifying 100 things may be a bit of a push but you should be able to create a list of 20 items. As time goes on and items are ticked off, you can replenish the list with new ideas. 

Let’s say that you accomplish 2 of these items each year. In 20 years you would have accomplished 40 things and is so doing you would have stretched and grown. You would have lived a life rather than passively experiencing it. Most likely you will feel good about yourself and, throughout the 20 years, you would have enjoyed the buzz that stretching and achieving brings.

There may be some items on your list that cannot be achieved in a year. For these items, establish milestones – what do you hope to have accomplished by the end of this year, next year and so on.

Step 2 – RASP

Create a spreadsheet and place the following headings in the top row:

Item : Research : Action : Skills : Progress

In the item column, you enter the items from your list, one per row. Then for each item, you write, in the appropriate column, what research you will undertake, your next actions, what skills you need to develop and, as time goes on, your progress.

Step 3 – Immediate Action

The best way to get started is to get started. No excuses. Take the first steps, however small. If you can’t, then:

    • push harder and show some grit (more on this in other parts of the course). Like a rocket taking off, it’s the first stage which is the hardest. Once you have moved forward, you will feel better and the next steps will not seem so intimidating.
    • maybe you need to re-think your list – and there is no shame in that. It’s easy to make commitments for your future self when you’re sitting in comfy chair with a cup of coffee. You have learned that this item isn’t important enough to you right now. Move it down the list and perhaps you will feel differently later in life

With first actions completed, map out your next steps. Make appointments with yourself in your calendar – in other words, commit to dates.

Step 4 – Routine

As a precursor to developing your routine, I strongly recommend that you spend some time reflecting on the activities in your life that are consuming your time. How much time do you spend watching TV, reading blogs, using social media etc? Could some of this time be used to move forward with your list items?

Next, consider how you can help yourself to do the things which you know you should do. The truth is, no matter how much something means to you, in the present moment there will always be temptations that offer immediate gratification. You can help yourself by establishing routines and habits.

A useful start to each day is to look at your list. Remind yourself of your actions. If there are some preparatory steps, do them in advance. So if you are focusing on improving your swimming technique, ensure that your kit bag is ready the night before. Tell people that Tuesday is your swimming night. Perhaps get a training buddy who won’t let you skip a session.

In other words, recognize the challenges and manage them; don’t rely on willpower.

Link to HCT

If you like this approach, you can create a link to your spreadsheet from your Happiness Checklist Template. Create a branch (eg ‘Bucket List’ or ‘Stretching’), then right-click (or Ctrl-H on Windows) to add a hyperlink, choosing the File option. Alternatively, you could keep everything in your HCT by creating a branch, right-clicking and selecting New Sheet From Topic. This will create a new sheet in your HCT file.

[developed from an article by Jon Westenberg]