Forget New Year’s resolutions. Create a bucket list. Set life goals!

Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.- Albert Einstein

Are you one of those people who finds themselves, shortly before midnight, holding an empty glass of something sparkling and realising with a start that you have not made any New Year’s resolutions? Don’t worry, you’ll get it done in no time (a quick refill might help).

  • Do more exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce stress
  • Call your grandparents more often

There you go! Done! Let’s welcome in the New Year. Cheers!

Ok.

Let’s be honest, how badly do you want to keep these resolutions? How good do they make you feel? How soon will you forget them? And: what about your last year’s resolutions?

A resolution – when it is kept – means change. You want to improve something. This means you need to do something. Change means letting go, taking risks, leaving old habits behind, creating space for something new and… keeping it up! This is anything but easy. And that’s exactly why resolutions are mostly doomed to fail.
But there is another way, a better way.

Your motivation must come first!

Motivation means emotion.

What do you feel when considering your resolutions? Pressure, stress, reluctance, even worry? These negative emotions increase the chance of failure. Your resolutions do not feel good. You have no motivation to realize them.
What about joy, curiosity, anticipation, lust? That’s what you need!

So, what can you do?

Step 1: Create a bucket list.

Never heard of it? It’s a list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfil and life experiences you want to have before you die (or “kick the bucket!“).

Use New Year’s Eve (what a perfect day for this!), grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down everything that you have always wanted to do in life. Everything is permissible! And don’t limit yourself to just next year. Create your life! Colour your life!

Blast through your inner limitations (your imagination is the perfect tool for this), don’t ask yourself “how“. Just write down everything that feels good!
What do you want to experience, see, feel, give, discover or taste? Take at least an hour and set your dreams free. Try to collect at least 20 goals, there is no limit (you’ve blasted away your limitations, right?). Let positive emotions rule ! The more the merrier. And… enjoy!

It probably helps if you think first about different areas of your life (e.g. personal life, job, relationship, health, finances). What do you want to achieve in these areas?

In case your imagination needs a little help, use these questions to release your inner dreams:

  • What would you do if you had unlimited time, money and resources?
  • What have you always wanted to do, but never have?
  • Are there any countries, places or locations you’ve always wanted to see?
  • Any specific person you’ve always wanted to meet?
  • What would you like to say to or do with other people? People you love? Family? Friends?
  • What would bring meaning to your life?
  • What if you had only one more week to live. What would you do in that week?

Step 2: Face your list, every day.

Create your bucket list in a way that you can see it every day. Pictures may help , others prefer working with check lists. Hang the list on your fridge, put it on your bedside table or let it be your loyal screen saver. This lets you focus and engage with your dreams while you can relax. Life is meant to feel good!

A quick recap of resolutions. How good does it feel to “do more exercise“, compared to a “hot salsa course“?

Step 3: Set your goals for 2015.

Which of your goals do you want to achieve this year? The salsa course? A trip to the beach? What else? It may be only one goal, but feel free to add more. One thing is clear: one single goal on your 2015 list that feels brilliant and will actually be achieved is much better than 10 resolutions that do not feel good and will never be kept.
Extend your list, at will.

Step 4: Live your bucket list.

Last but not least: Do it ! Live your bucket list! Focus on your goals, discover and take chances that bring you closer to your dreams. You will soon realize that simply focusing on your list regularly will automatically bring you into situations related to your goals. Use these opportunities. Go out and live!

Neuroscience calls this phenomenon “priming“.

It is said that you notice a stimulus quicker and clearer if a related stimulus has preceded it. E.g. you think about your interest in a salsa course while going through your bucket list. So the next salsa course ad you see in your neighbourhood will probably attract your attention more quickly and easily. It could be that you have been walking past a salsa studio for months already but your brain didn’t see any reason to notice it. Priming brings necessary focus into your life.

You will see the ad, and then: walk into the salsa studio, take a trial class and:

Dance your life!

What are your goals for 2015?

© UMB-O / fotolia.com

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