Bucket lists and visualization techniques–is there a place in my life for them?

Today, I heard an interview with the celebrity Brooke Burke where this 40-something mother of four candidly said that she felt the reason why she's been realizing her dreams in the past few years is because she wrote about her wants and desires publicly on her blog and such. She felt like this visualizing exercise of openly sharing her "bucket list" made it all happen.

You know how most of the time when you listen to interviews and it's entertaining but most of it just passes on through? Then every so often... just once in a while... something that is said doesn't pass on through but sticks around in your head and rattles around? That was me today.

I pondered Brooke's concept of visualization and whether I felt it had validity in my own life. I also found myself pondering the value of having a "bucket list" (a concept I've never embraced or considered embracing).

I thought about it. What would I write on my blog if I were to follow Brooke's example? If (and that's a big IF) I were to compile a "bucket list" what would be on it? Would I publish it publicly? Does it even matter in the whole eternal scheme of things?

I have to say, I honestly don't know. The things that I cherish and the things that matter most to me don't need a visualization exercise in order to bring them into fruition. And they are usually so personal I wouldn't want to share them publicly. They are too precious.

I found myself asking the question, "Is this why the world's definition of 'success' eludes me? Because I don't do what Brooke Burke has done?" Then I asked myself, "Does society's vision of 'success' really matter all that much to me? Do I even care?"

My mind wandered to a photo I took on Saturday at my niece's 1 year birthday celebration (the photo above). All the children at the party had dumped the toys out of the toy bucket and were gleefully playing–the evidence of their play activity strewn about the floor.

It seemed like an apt symbol for why I haven't really engaged in either bucket list formation practices or visualization techniques (unless compiling Pinterest boards counts as "visualization"... then I have).

I know the term "bucket list" comes from the idea that it is a list of all the things one wants to accomplish before "kicking the bucket" (dying). I get that. But that way of looking at life and death isn't my style.

I think of life as a gathering exercise–a time to glean as much information, education, experience, knowledge as possible as well as gathering meaningful connections and relationships. I feel like I'm walking around with a big tub (like the one in the photo above). I hold that tub under one arm and it rests on one hip. I go around collecting "items" to put into my bucket much like a beachcomber gathering seashells along a shoreline. The bucket never gets full. It's bottomless (like Mary Poppins' carpet bag). It can hold infinite amounts of intangible treasures. Carrying this bucket isn't just about gathering, but also about sharing. Sharing makes the bucket fuller instead of depleting it. Sharing adds more than it takes away.

I suppose this is why I've never made a "bucket list" because my bucket isn't going to get "kicked" when I die. It's going to come with me. It's the only thing I can take with me. And if I'm gathering with that end-goal in mind, it seems that visualization exercises don't fit into the picture either.

Or do they? What do you think?

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  1. I don't have a bucket list, but I do believe in the power of visualization and claiming out loud what you want/need. I don't do it enough, but it has worked in the past for me. And I suppose that saying it on your blog is the same as saying it out loud!


  2. I don't know that I have a formal bucket list, per se. I do have Dreams that nag at me for attention like a toddler pulling at my pant leg. I love your image of collecting things along the sea shore. Everyone has a style that works for them and there is validity in all of the different approaches. I will say this, that when I voiced my big Dreams out loud, the Universe seemed to hear them better and things started to fall into place in a way they never had before. Perhaps, all that's required is a level of personal commitment that only exists once one gives voice to those things we desire most, in whatever way feels right and natural to ourselves.


  3. "I will owe thee an answer for that" but probably offline.

  4. Claudia--Your concept of visualization makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I do it all the time. I call it prayer and meditation. And I agree with you that there is considerable power in expressing your wants and needs out loud.

  5. Carolynn--I know just the kind of dreams you're describing! The visual of a toddler tugging at your pant leg makes me chuckle. They ARE like that! Like I mentioned to Claudia (above), I definitely know there is power is asking for what one desires. I guess for me, that the external expression of my deepest desires ends up being so personal between me and my Maker that it wouldn't be appropriate to use my blog for that purpose. Your words have really helped me clarify that thought for myself. Hugs!


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