Every leader needs a bucket list. It’s a helpful concept that can encourage us to be
forward‐thinking, stretch outside our comfort zone, and set goals. Bucket lists also have some drawbacks:
- They can keep us focused on what we haven’t — instead of what we have — accomplished.
- They can get out of hand — I’ve seen some bucket lists with over 100 items.
- They can tend towards self‐indulgence.
We cross items off our list, and then what? Often, we toss them aside with barely a glance. What if we took time to cup them in our hands, hold them close to our hearts, and experience them for what they are — wondrous moments? With an alarming intensity, we focus on everything still to do. Failing to recognize our accomplishments in life and leadership is one of the most common forms of self‐sabotage.
I invited one of my clients in a recent coaching session to shift her concentration away from all the things that were still undone — that unfinished bucket list left her with a feeling of unease and dissatisfaction. Instead, I asked her to take a look at all of the wonderful things she had successfully completed and place them in a basket of dreams. The suggestion intrigued my client and she completed the assignment. Here are some of the items in her basket:
- Finishing her PhD.
- Living in New York City for a year.
- Living and working internationally.
- Integrating her philosophy PhD into her business career. (Now that’s something!)
- Traveling to many of the places she’s wanted to visit and exploring new cultures.
Through this simple exercise she realized that she had, in fact, achieved more than she realized. She shared with me later that taking personal time to acknowledge her successes helped her see the contributions she had and was continuing to make. She experienced a deep sense of thankfulness and validation.
Dream baskets help us remember that:
- We often achieve our goals, even if the path we take isn’t how we
originally envisioned it.
- It’s important to stop, take stock and appreciate our journey.
- Shoulda, coulda, woulda’s rarely generate perseverance and tenacity.
- Hindsight is filled with wisdom; foresight with vision and creativity. We need both.
What’s in your basket of dreams?