My Bucket Item
On October 29 of this past year, I went to a meeting at work about setting goals. They were implementing a new evaluation system and trying to hype us up about it with an activity. The lady facilitating the meeting told us to take a piece of white paper from the table and write down three items from our “bucket list”.
“Some of you can write pages and pages of them,” she said, “but I want you to limit yourself to just three.”
She gave us five minutes to complete the list, and during those five minutes, while everybody else was writing furiously, I just sat there, frozen, trying to think of something to write.
“Go bungee jumping,” I overheard someone say.
“Fly a plane.”
“Climb Mount Everest!”
As the room filled with people sharing and congratulating each other on having such ambitious goals, my mind went completely blank. Then, meekly, it started coming up with feeble attempts, but I quickly shot them down. I want to see my daughters grow up into amazing adults and lead full and happy lives, but that’s not really a bucket list item. I can influence them, sure, but I can’t make them become amazing adults–that’s on them. I’d like to go back to Europe someday, but if it doesn’t happen that’s okay, too. I’d love to learn how to play the guitar, but if I never get around to learning, I’m not going to kick myself in the butt about it. The thing is, I’ve lived a really great life. It’s not so much that I’ve done all the things I’ve ever wanted to do, but that I appreciate having had the chance to do them, and I’ll appreciate the chance to do all the other things life happens to throw my way. I honestly can’t imagine anything that would ever cause me to say, “Man, I really wish I had done that when I had the chance.”
Except maybe for one.
Just as the facilitator’s timer went off, signaling the end of our five minutes, I put my pencil to the paper and scribbled, “Complete a work of literature.” If I go through life without having done that at least once, then yeah. I’d be pretty disappointed in myself. I’m actually pretty disappointed in myself about this already, but that’s where this blog comes in.
The second part of the exercise was to choose one item from our bucket list and rewrite it as a S.M.A.R.T. goal. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) Having only one item in my bucket, this is what I came up with:
By August 1, 2016, I will write, revise, edit, and polish a complete work of literature.
My hand shook as I wrote it. It was intense, man. I believed it.
Seven months after writing that sentence, I finished typing the last page of a 144,000-word manuscript and went out in the rain twenty minutes before the copy place closed for the night to print the whole thing out. It’s pretty gorgeous, isn’t it?
The very next day, I began the process of culling and whittling it down, and once I’ve trimmed all the fat from it, I’m going to start polishing it, sharpening it, molding it into whatever it is I’m capable of creating. I keep telling myself that the most important thing is to actually finish it, even if I go beyond August 1, but honestly? I really want to make that deadline.