My friend is dying, long before her time. I visited her at the hospital today and the subject of bucket lists came up. She asked me if I had one.
For a moment I felt guilty about it. For heavens sake, a movie was made about them. Am I disrespecting the fleetness of my time on earth by not identifying "things I want to do before I die", and then ticking them off one at a time? Won't a page of ticked off boxes prevent regret when my time comes?
The answer, for me, is no. And that can be a relief for anyone who feels uncertain that they can, or will be able to, afford to do the things that comprise many a bucket list. I reflected momentarily on why I don't have one and came to the following conclusions.
- I have something else. Goals. Big audacious goals. The goals are not things I want to do, or have. They are the impact I want to have while I'm here on earth.
- I live in the moment. These days it's called "being present". Others refer to it as mindfulness. Turns out this comes naturally to me.
- I practice gratitude. Though not in the way it's often encouraged these days by journaling, daily affirmations and the like. It's in my nature to be grateful for the small things (not having a plugged nose after a cold), and the big important stuff (like freedom).
The cool thing is that what brings me joy and makes me grateful don't cost anything in the conventional sense. So the bucket is full at the end of every day. I have all that I need, all the time. You might be thinking, "easy for her to say, my life is difficult, how can I be grateful and feel joy?". Well, I felt this way even when my husband was slowly and painfully leaving me, and this world, thanks to cancer. So, it's possible.
Now, this is a blog written by a financial planner. So what's the connect to money matters? You've probably guessed by now, but the bottom line is that money is a tool that is needed to navigate life and make stuff happen. But it's not the only thing. And much research has proven that after a certain (relatively modest) level of wealth or income, one's level of happiness plateaus. Over 11 million people have watched this TED Talk that highlights the research and important results.
So please, write that bucket list but it can't be the measure for the value of your life, your status, and most of all, your daily happiness. Because, after all, today is all we have, every day.
This information of a general nature and should not be considered specific advice, as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact your financial advisor or Caring for Clients prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained herein.