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So you want to begin your own anti-bucket list? Great!! Welcome to the club! Here’s how you can get started in just five steps:
- Start by recognizing you aren’t alone. At first, it might be embarrassing to actually admit the things you are afraid of, intimidated by, or simply dislike. But the truth is, you don’t have to defend your reasons. You just have to admit them and list them. Everyone has things they don’t want to face; this is universal. You are not alone! Your list will just look different than someone else’s, that’s all.
- Write down your fears. Be as honest with yourself as you can; your list will only work if you are as thorough as possible here. It’s ok if it’s not exact though; you will get better at this process – my own list started off with only twenty-five items when I first drafted it, and has since ‘expanded’ to fifty items (and counting)! It’s not that I’ve become even more afraid over time, but that I’ve become more aware of the nuances between the items on my list and treated them individually. Or it’s that I’ve realized I’ve had fears for years that I never fully admitted to myself, and when I realize I’m carrying that fear still, I add it to my list.
- Examine your list for themes. Here’s a bit of a contradiction from my last tip; even though you should be specific here, take another look at your list after you’ve jotted everything down to see if there are any overarching themes. It may be easier to start generically rather than specifically. Case in point, using my own list: My anti-bucket list has such things on it as storms, insects, getting dirty, water, getting lost, the dark, being alone, etc. Looking over these items I could lump them together in the more general category of ‘the outdoors’. With this in mind, it would be easier for me to start by just going outside the house for a few minutes consistently each day before I start focusing on something a lot more specific. (Such as going outside at night in the woods during a thunderstorm by myself to splash in mud puddles*…. Just kidding! ;))
- Execute your plan! Now, hear me out on this one. You can go at this systematically and aggressively if you want to by tackling the next item on your list each week, but I tend to take a more laid-back approach that fits my personality better. My own guiding rule is that if an opportunity comes up that I would otherwise do but fear is standing in my way, I do it. Let’s say, for example, that a friend invites me to a theme park to ride roller coasters but that I’m afraid of heights. If I can look at this objectively and realize that if I wasn’t afraid of heights, I would love to go hang out with my friend and go on rides all day, then yes – I will attempt it. At least once. I don’t want my fear to be in charge of me. I want to make these decisions for myself.
- Persist. Just like in learning any new skill or acquiring any new habit, you will find you have ups and downs in the process. Some things might be incredibly difficult, and leave you thinking you want to give up. Some things might be a lot easier than you were expecting, and give you a rush of confidence, emboldened to tackle the next item right away. Whatever the situation, go easy on yourself and your own expectations, but try not to give up in defeat. Like others have said before me, “Don’t have two bad days in a row.” You’ve lived with these fears long enough. Don’t let them continue to win.
And that’s it! I realize this process may seem like an oversimplification for something that is a very difficult process – a lifetime to achieve properly, perhaps – but at least it should get you started on the journey. We’re in this together!
*As a side note: I would never seriously advocate that someone try to tackle that many items from their anti-bucket list at one time!! One thing at a time is plenty! 🙂
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