Those of you old enough to remember Hyacinth Bucket of the TV show “Keeping up appearances” will appreciate why she is my anti-hero, after my midlife transformation. The very plain, frumpy, old-before-her-time Hyacinth, with her mind-numbingly dull life, represents everything I have left behind since my midlife transformation.
So when I decided to start planning my departure from London (home for the last15 years) to move back to Australia next year to buy rural, forested land and build a treehouse (yes, an actual house, up a tree, to actually live in!), I realised that there are probably 101 things I have always intended to do in the UK and haven’t got around to yet. I didn’t want to move to the opposite side of the planet and be constantly kicking myself for things I meant to do and didn’t. So I decided to write a UK bucket list, which I have re-named in honour of my anti-hero, to remind myself why I have a bucket list: to avoid life slipping away in hum-drum mediocrity only to wake up one day and realise the opportunity to fulfil all my dreams is gone.
So what is on my ‘Mrs Bucket’ list? Farnborough Air Show, for one. And last weekend I checked it off my list! I come from a family of recreational and professional pilots and general aircraft fanatics, and I have spent my life in and around small planes (see the photo of me as a kid in a glider tow-plane in my book “How to have a mid-life crisis”). Farnborough is one of the world’s great air shows, and in fifteen years of living a 30 minute drive down the road, it has been on my mental bucket list but I have never been. That changed last weekend.
As well as Farnborough, amongst various other things, I have included:
- Europe’s longest zipline in Snowdonia, Wales
- Europe’s second longest zipline in Italy
- and a totally crazy but fun project: I want to have my photo taken in front of some iconic London landmarks whilst wearing a fabulously fun steampunk costume!
So why these things? Primarily I just want to put some fun back in my life. But importantly, the things on my ‘Mrs Bucket List’ are things which are consistent with my primary lifestyle type: The Adventurer (see my book “How to have a mid-life crisis” for the ten lifestyle types). The core values of the Adventurer are things like freedom, independence, adventure, exploration, and love of the great outdoors.
Some of the things on my ‘Mrs Bucket List’ came from looking through my childhood photos, and realising just how many of them included me in or on various vehicles (a single engine plane; a sea kayak; a camel; my Dad’s motorbike; etc). This week, when I checked Farnborough Air Show off my Mrs Bucket List, it took me back to the kinds of adventures I had as a youngster when my core values were being formed. It put me back in touch with the ‘real’ me – re-establishing my sense of identity and personality. These things aren’t just fun. Hearing and feeling the earth-rumbling roar of an F35 fighter jet overhead gives me such a thrill, it is a memorable highlight and a reminder of what makes me unique and interesting. And after two years of cancer treatment and post-cancer frumpiness and feeling old before my time, I really needed that. I feel like I am really living again and regaining my sense of who I am.
Three Steps to making your bucket list a reality
So what’s on your bucket list? Is it a bunch of ‘nice’ dreams that you will probably never fulfil? I had three steps to making my bucket list work for me.
- Write it down
For most people, their bucket list is just a vague notion, not an actual list. So the first step to making your bucket list a reality is to actually sit down and write it! Brainstorm everything you have ever wanted or dreamed of or you thought you might like to do. Don’t be afraid to write down things which are personal, or which you might be embarrassed by if a friend or family member found your list. Keep it secure if it’s that personal. But write those things anyway, because seeing them in black and white helps to really cement in your own mind that some of these things are actually things you really, desperately want.
- Make it meaningful
The second thing is to include the things which are really important and meaningful to you, like getting married (or making the marriage you have more fulfilling and meaningful), having children, or doing charitable work. Don’t limit yourself to just a list of fun stuff like holiday destinations and adventure activities. Nor should you limit yourself to the big stuff. Write a bucket list that includes a variety of fun and serious, big and small things. But make them things which put you back in touch with who you are and what brings you most fulfilment, meaning and purpose in life. Even the fun stuff.
- Make it happen!
Once you have a list, schedule some things in to your diary and make them happen!
I hope that you are inspired to avoid becoming a boring Mrs Bucket, by writing and fulfilling your own ‘Mrs Bucket’ List. If you do, please comment below and tell me what you have added to your list and what you have done to inject a bit of your own personality back into your life!