I’m a list maker. Grocery lists. To-do lists. Vacation packing lists. Business task lists. I even have a list going this week that outlines my daughter’s upcoming dance nationals schedule and all the extras we need to bring.

Most of the lists I make support other people in my life—my clients, my family, my business.

They don’t support me so much as a person. As the woman before kids, before a husband, before becoming an entrepreneur.

I dream about these kinds of lists—of doing the things on these lists—but it doesn’t happen. At least it hasn’t up until this point in my life.

Case in point: I was scrolling through old lists on my phone the other day and came across what appears to be a bucket list I made in 2018. The list included:

  • Take photography classes
  • Make a list of places to travel (Mind you, I only wanted to get the list going, I didn’t even give myself the pressure to actually do the traveling)
  • Have coffee with a friend once a month
  • Get out of debt (hello, pandemic 2020 – this one will remain on my list for the foreseeable future)
  • Go cash only (um, see bullet point above)
  • Get a massage once a month
  • Workout three times a week
  • Go to a movie once a month
  • Regular bath nights

I have done one of the things on that 9-point list (working out at least three times a week) and it’s a bit of an easy win because I’m also a group exercise instructor, so working out is my side-gig anyway.

Alas, it’s halfway through 2021 and I haven’t cracked much on that list—and there are certainly other things I would add to it.

Why the bucket list?

The most common (and slightly morbid) origin of a bucket list is that it is a list of accomplishments or things you want to do before you die (aka: kick the bucket). There are other arguments over the phrase’s origin and when it became more of a mainstream phrase.

Regardless, we’ve seen these types of lists on the internet, more often in the context of Things to do before you’re 30! Things to do before you’re 40! Things to do before hitting the half-century mark!

Please.

I’m not out to make anyone (including myself) feel bad about not doing certain things on a list before we hit a certain age (or before death). And I don’t want to think about my bucket list as a group of things that I missed out on because I was busy raising kids, establishing my career or trying to be a good partner amidst the chaos—those are valid bucket list choices, too. Those are parts of my life that I’m super proud of and that I would not want to give up.

But I do want to create a bucket list that will fulfill me and bring me a sense of who I am without others around me. To have a list that grounds me—a list that is just for me (and anyone I feel like inviting along, if the activity warrants it).

But at the stage of life I’m in, how can I make that happen? How do we get back to ourselves when we’re busy being the necessary someone else for others in our lives?

We agree to start small

I’m more of a “go big or go home” type of girl versus someone who starts small and builds. I suppose that’s why I’ve never thought about creating a different sort of bucket list. I mean, for someone who likes to adhere to rules and deadlines, I’ve sure been lax about my own list.

But after Googling phrases like, “how to hold yourself accountable to a bucket list” or “how to accomplish your bucket list” (which, I get it—kind of defeats the whole “don’t stress yourself out about your bucket list” advice that we should also take into consideration), there were a few types of bucket lists that I loved the idea of:

  • Seasonal bucket list: A list that turns with the seasons. Snowshoeing in winter. Seeing the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. in the spring, etc.
  • Annual bucket list: Just as it sounds, this list turns over each year. Some articles I’ve read talk about these instead of new year resolutions (love this idea!) to break down bucket list goals over the next 12 months.
  • Milestone bucket list: The turning 30, 40, 50, etc. type lists. Hey, these are fun, too and may be just the inspiration someone needs to cross a big-ticket item off the list.

Bucket list or Me List

I think part of my issue around this notion of a bucket list is that it can seem far-fetched. A list of things that I’m not entirely sure when I’ll have time to make happen or more so, that I feel guilty about making happen because they are just for me.

But what’s wrong with that? Why can’t we have a Me List?

As women, we continue to put ourselves at the end of the priority lists. We know in our heart of hearts that doing so is not healthy, but many of us can’t seem to get out of the cycle. We’re caregivers and typically that doesn’t trickle down to care for ourselves.

I love this advice from Dr. Darling of the Cleveland Clinic around a pause in our day—finding an activity that gives us inner peace and calm each day. Ten minutes even, just to relax.

I get it, but also, I want more than that. Is it a great start? Absolutely. But for me, I want a list that provides fun and laughter and silliness and exploration and adventure. I want experiences that I am in charge of—that I create for myself.

I think I’ll get that with a Me List.

Go ahead, build your list

Part of what I love about this platform and the SheTaxi community is that it helps me focus—on my experiences, my life, my dreams—in a way that I probably would not if I didn’t have a blog post submission deadline. And if you’re like me, sometimes it takes seeing others getting after their dreams (and Me Lists) to start creating that path for yourself. The more I think (and write) about it, the more excited I get about thinking about exactly what I want to put on my Me List.

Here’s a few starter ideas to get you thinking about your version of the Me List:

  • Books you want to read
  • Movies you want to see
  • Things you don’t do enough
  • People you don’t see enough
  • Skills you want to learn
  • Activities you want to do
  • Places you want to travel
  • People you want to meet
  • Things that make you happy

Taking care of ourselves is one of the best things we can do to be there for others in our lives. And as Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserves your love and affection.”

So go ahead, make that Me List. I’d love to see what you come up with!

About the author:

Melissa is CEO and founder of Allee Creative, a content marketing agency in Minnesota. A mother of four (2 tweens and 2 teenagers!) she is also a dance mom, a soccer mom, a hockey mom (and team manager), a band mom and a dog mom. Melissa is also a fitness instructor and a wife. During the 25th hour of her day, she volunteers her time as part of the Longest Day Committee for the Alzheimer’s Association. She loves walking and reading and makes sure that, no matter what, she fits both into her routine each day—those are definitely two items on her Me List. Follow along on her crazy ride by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram.

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