I LOVE lists! Bucket lists, to-do lists, even grocery lists. I have a list of places I want to visit, food I want to try, books I want to read…big or small – you name it, I have a list for it. I love writing things down and I LOVE crossing things off! That feeling of accomplishment when you cross something off a list can make my day (even if it’s just “buy milk”…)
Letting your imagination go wild with future planning can be really fun. Although bucket lists can motivate you for action, they can also be a little overwhelming. Seeing all the things you hope to achieve one day and not knowing how you’ll find the time and the money to do it all can really take the wind out of your sails.
Writing down a list of all the things you’ve already accomplished. But wait! if you can’t cross things off where is the fun in that??
First of all, recollecting all the things you already achieved will give you a sense of progress. According to research: having a sense of making progress is the most influential factor in maximizing long-term creative output, positive emotions, and motivation. Not just looking at how far you have to go but also how far you have come will reinforce your sense of capability. This is a good time for that pat on the back. Seeing things that were once a dream now a reality will fire-up your self-confidence and encourage you to go further.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” | Melody Beattie
Furthermore, writing a reverse bucket list is a great exercise in gratitude. Taking the time to look back and appreciate each thing on the list will fill you with satisfaction and pride. When everything is written down you realize how much you have done and that your life is actually pretty amazing. As you can read in this article of the Positive Psychology Programmer: practicing gratitude significantly increases our well-being, happiness, and health. Also, reminiscing and revisiting positive experiences from the past can help counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety- according to The New York Times.
Just do it! Clear out an hour of your time, pure yourself a glass of wine, or a nice cup of tea, grab a pen and paper (Research suggests that handwriting activates different, critical areas of the brain than typing) and start writing.
Think about all the things you have done in your life. You can list accomplishments for the past week, year or even your entire life (did really well in the spelling bee in the first grade? Good. Write that down!)
1. Size does not matter, in this case…
Don’t just write about the “big” things. The smallest accomplishment is as significant as the big ones if not more. Finally organized all your photo albums? Got 200 likes on your latest Instagram post or signed up for the gym and actually went? Good job! Write that down.
As explained by psychological scientist and lead researcher Ting Zhang of Harvard Business School in this article: “We generally do not think about today’s ordinary moments as experiences that are worthy of being rediscovered in the future. However…What is ordinary now actually becomes more extraordinary in the future — and more extraordinary than we might expect”
2. Don’t be afraid of stating the obvious.
You might think that graduating from college or getting that promotion is not a big deal because everybody does that. Well, it is. Feel proud. YOU made that happen and don’t underestimate that.
thus bringing me to my next point…
3. Don’t get embarrassed
Writing done all that you achieved may sound vain or just plain bragging. Don’t worry – this list is only for you to see.
4. Reversing the bucket list
Remember how good it feels to cross thing off? If you are a list writer like me, Go back and take a look at your bucket lists, cross things off and add them to your reverse list.
Still, have a trouble remembering the good stuff?
5. Go down on memory line
Scroll through your photos, your event calendar, and even your social media to remember all the fun events and achievements in your past.
After you’re done, look back on that list… doesn’t it feel good seeing all your achievements in one place?
That good feeling doesn’t have to be a onetime thing. You can set a time every month or even every week to reflect on your past accomplishments. You might be surprised how much it will motivate you to attack your future goals. As Valerie Bisharat suggests in Evernote’s blog on keeping “to-done” lists – Every Friday, set aside 10 minutes to jot down your wins for the week. It will send you into your weekend feeling great.
What are the accomplishments that you would add to your own Reverse Bucket List? You can let me know in the comments below or just share your list with me via email.