Don’t Make These Life Mistakes: Using Bucket Lists to Get from Regret to Life Fulfilling Plan

Don’t Make These Life Mistakes: Using Bucket Lists to Get from Regret to Life Fulfilling Plan

For more than a good couple of years I have been planning to spend time with my grandmother and ask her all the important questions about her life and our family, the questions that only she could answer.

She was approaching her nineties and I was thinking it might be high time to do so.

Then came all the excuses.

First I had to finish this project and take some time off, and then I will… When the time off finally came, I wanted to squeeze as much as I possibly could out of it, so… I went for a trip instead of visiting grandma.

It was my first solo trip and I had a fantastic time. On that very same trip I met a guy who later turned out to be the love of my life. Soon after coming back I announced that I’m taking a sabbatical and off I went to travel the world.

14 months passed like in a dream and I came back to my “normal” life. I tried to re-assimilate but it was a struggle and I never managed to fit back into my old job. So I decided to quit and embark on a new life.

Now, I finally had the opportunity to do what I was planning to for years – go spend time with grandma.

This article is a part of our WE PROMISE Theory of Happiness mini-series.

The purpose of the mini-series is to give you a sense of what stands behind each of the categories of this theory.

We want to inspire you to start introducing changes into your lives so we can all live happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives.

This article refers to:

  • Relationships (of various kinds)
  • Dreams and Desires
  • The Ability to Accept Failure
  • The Ability to Handle Loss
  • A Sense of Taking Action

I wanted to know so much more about her childhood, her friends and family, her difficult experiences through the World War II, her boyfriends and my grandfather, and so much more. I had all these questions for her.

I quit my job in May and grandma quit home for the hospital. It was a difficult several weeks but she is strong, didn’t give up easily, and she got through it. She got better but when she finally got back home, she wasn’t the same.

The conversation I was postponing for so long is never going to happen.

I guess I fooled myself into believing that she will be there waiting for me. She won’t. And that is one of the things that I will always regret – not making time for her when the time was still right.

I’m sure you have similar stories about wanting to do something, planning for it and losing the opportunity because you waited too long.

Mistakes of the past should serve as lessons for the future. The way to never let it happen again is to make a list, or actually, two lists.

Start with the list of opportunities you have already missed, like my conversation with grandmother. You might have entries like:

  • not following that love at the first sight which happened years ago but you still remember it so vividly and wonder what could have happened if only…
  • not having spent quality time with your children before they moved out of your home
  • not telling someone from your past how much they meant to you and how you appreciated having them in your life

These will serve as teachings and reminders to never make these kinds of mistakes again. Spend quality time with your grandchildren, let the people you admire know about how much they mean to you, etc.

Once you have the first list done, it’s time to go deeper. Be honest with yourself, write down all the desires, plans and visions you wish for yourself to happen. Call it a list of your life’s accomplishments or simply a bucket list, whatever you decide. Just do it.

Your list might include:

  • call some old friends and invite them to a get-together you will organize (you are missing them, why not be smart and make the first move)
  • reorganize, delegate, and cut back on working hours so you can spend quality time with your family
  • go camping with your kids while they still might be interested in spending time with you (remember how you loved doing it when you were a kid?)
  • enroll for a course to learn the language you have always wanted to speak (motivate yourself with some additional plans to go places where the language is spoken)
  • learn to tango (don’t complain about not having a partner, ask a neighbor or a friend)

Once you have your bucket list, take a good look at it, open up, listen to your heart and choose an item. Then go do it!
Some points on your list might be big and challenging. Be smart so you don’t get scared and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the goal ahead of you. Chop these big hairy challenges into smaller, bite-size tasks which you can accomplish, and then go step by step.

Remember, each small step will get you closer to fulfilling your big dream. Isn’t it worth a bit of effort? Celebrate success each step you complete. Build your confidence and this will pay off in all sorts of endeavors you decide to undertake.
Remember one more thing – this list is not set in stone. It’s a lifetime project.

Be an active curator of your list. It will change with time, some items will get crossed off as you successfully turn your dreams into reality, and some new will be added.

What you will get as a result of this whole process will be a much more fulfilled, satisfied and happier life. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

Over to you…

What have you already missed in your life? What items are on your life’s accomplishments list?

Please share and let others learn before they make the same mistake.

About Izabela Lasocka

Izabela Lasocka is an associate at Happiness International. If you’re following us on social media (you are, aren’t you?) you see her handiwork regularly in the form of those beautiful images and quotes she creates.

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  1. Thank you for writing this article.
    You article affirmed the wisdom of a decision that I just made. I was trying really hard to talk myself out of it because of the huge expense and emotional stress involved.
    I am a Grandma. I have a 7 1/2 year old granddaughter and a 4 1/2 year old grandson. I adore them and they adore me.
    Seven months ago my alcoholic daughter cut me off from contact with my beautiful grandchildren FOR NO REASON. I have been a daily part of their lives since they were born.
    The only time grandparents can do anything legally about getting visitation rights with their grandchildren is if the children’s parents separate and go to Court to establish Child Custody. Well, that is about to happen.
    I will spend my last dollar and my last ounce of energy trying to get the legal right to be A GRANDMA.

    • Thank you for sharing this sensitive situation you’re going through.
      It is such an intimate area and the feelings of everyone involved can be hurt going through the process.
      You need to be mindful of that and always weigh the pros and cons diligently.
      I wish you strength and wisdom in dealing with this complex matter. I’m hoping for you and everyone else involved that you will find the least painful solution.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I came across the idea of a bucket list a few years ago; I was about 13 years old but going through a tough time, and eventually came across dozens of self help sites which I practically lived on! It’s all too easy for people like me to get distracted on things like the internet, there’s so much to see. But I haven’t yet come across your idea of making a list of opportunities you’ve missed in life.

    I’ve started my list just now, and have a feeling its going to be surprisingly long for a 16 year old. You really made me think about my own grandparents when you mentioned your grandma. I don’t want to end up having to write the same on my list of opportunities, they always tell me I should visit them more.

    • Hi Mariah,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m glad you find this idea beneficial.
      Often people make plans about future without much retrospection, which I think is a mistake. We shouldn’t be lingering in the past but we should definitely use it as a part of our learning curve.
      I understand you’ve been through a lot already but being so young and so conscious you have plenty of time to take appropriate steps in order to make your life full and satisfying.
      I wish you all the best on your own unique path.
      And yes, remember to stay in touch with your grandparents and see them often, if you can.