The bucket list
Regardless of what’s on your list of things to do in your lifetime, or before you ‘kick the bucket’ as the saying goes, many psychologists agree that creating a bucket list of goals has a number of benefits for our wellbeing.
Your bucket list may include travelling to a far-flung destination, writing a novel, or building your dream house. However, it’s the act of writing down our aspirations and sharing them with friends and family that may make us more likely to accomplish them. A list also gives us something to measure our progress against, which can help us make decisions and evaluate our actions over the long-term.
Simply working towards meaningful goals plays an important role in the development and maintenance of our psychological wellbeing, regardless of how successful we are. One study assessed whether it is achieving our goals or simply pursuing them that makes a difference to our happiness and wellbeing. It found that people who articulated their goals and were actively making progress on them reported being happier and more satisfied with their lives.
According to research by the Northern Territory Government, more than half of Australians have a holiday in the ‘Top End’ on their bucket list. Travel may be a popular bucket list item, but positive psychology research suggests that goals that are altruistic in nature, and connect people with something larger than themselves, are associated with greater wellbeing, health and longevity. Examples of this may range from volunteering, to taking the whole family on a cruise.
In fact, one of the first studies to track happiness over a long period found that people who prioritised family and friendships or involvement in social activities, as well as having altruistic goals such as helping people, were happier than those who focused solely on careers and material possessions.
When creating your bucket list consider setting specific, challenging goals that move you beyond your comfort zone, both in the short-term and long-term. That way you are not only planning for tomorrow, but working towards achieving them today.
Do you have a bucket list? What are your top five goals you’d like to achieve in your lifetime?