1. Figure out the why
Why do you want to do the things on your bucket list? What are you doing them for? Who are you doing them for?
Our dream of traveling Europe started out as something on the top of our bucket lists, each of us having specific places we wanted to go and see – for Megan, Croatia was at the top of her list and for Jordyn it was Cinque Terre, Italy – but quickly these destinations turned into more. We wanted to experience these places and new cultures for more than the check in the box. And as we each questioned more and more (and got asked by many others) why we wanted to go travel Europe, it became about more than simply doing it for the sake of going and became a dream far greater – wanting to travel as more than consumers, seeking to slow down & find the true beauty behind God’s creation and His people. For us, that was our lens going into the three months, but what is it for you? Some things are on that list for the sake of doing it (why else would shark cage-diving be on it?) but understanding the why behind the what or where can make the experience so much more meaningful.
When you figure out why you want to do the things on your list, their meaning enhances. And ultimately, your experience enhances.
2. Be Present
When you finally get to experience the things on your bucket list, one of the biggest things we can encourage you to do is put down your phone, put down your camera and be in the moment.
For Megan, this is like second nature as she is more likely to not have her phone than actually have it on any given day, but for Jordyn, this takes a bit more intentional effort and it is by far one of the greatest disciplines I’ve found to practice because there is so much I miss by not actually being present in the moment and giving all your attention to it. Pictures are great – and take hundreds, thousands even because by no means are we saying not too – but also take time to set it aside & put it down. Look at what’s in front of you, at the people around you, to see them as valuable and actually look at them, at what makes them who they are in this place so unique and unfamiliar to you. This experience is yours, so make it yours – in however that looks, take ownership. Take the time to soak it all in, don’t be in such a rush that you miss it. Enjoy where you are.
That was a priority for us. It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes we lost sight of it. But the trip was so much sweeter when we stopped to see what was around us, bask in the richness of where we were.
(and just a little side tip, get people in your pictures – they’ll mean far more down the road than just another sunset picture because lets be honest, will you really remember where it was taken in a year?)
3. Laugh through the chaos
Expectations vs. Reality
Its not always going to look like you expected, we can tell you first-hand without hesitation that you will experience hiccups. You will not always be on the mountain top, you may get kicked off trains or you may get stuck in the pouring rain because actually doing the things on your bucket list may not go exactly as planned or may become more draining than you expected. They key to overcoming these valleys is laugher. You can’t always change your circumstances, or move from the smelly person on the bus, but you can laugh through it. And trust us, those giggle-fits will get you through the most trying of times. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t place so much weight on your experience that it crumbles beneath it because often times, the moments you remember most aren’t going to be the ones that went perfectly to plan, but those moments when you were at wits end and you’re able to laugh it off with those with you.
We all build up expectations, we each had so many going into this trip(whether we like to admit it or not), but reality always looks so differently. Sometimes in absolutely amazing ways that blow your expectations out of the water and sometimes in ways that make those expectations come crashing down. So the greatest advice we can give is hold those plans with open hands, hold them loosely, ready to say ‘come what may’ and able to laugh at the unexpected & unknown.
Through being able to put a check in the box on each one of our bucket lists, we have discovered there is often more to experience than the checking of the box. And while that is a good feeling (its okay to admit!) – we often find ourselves putting things already completed onto our to-do lists just to make that all-too-satisfying check. Like we said, somethings on the bucket list we have listed just to experience (jumping in a shark cage, sky diving, bungee jumping, etc.) But they’re not all that way, some of the things on our list have a bigger reason & purpose – and it’s those that we’re calling out.
To round out this post, we decided it was time to go visual! So here you have it, take it as an encouragement, a reminder, something to tape to a mirror or simply the short version of this entire post – but no matter how you do, our hope & prayer most importantly is that when your dreams finally become reality you are able to get the most out of each experience. To really feel what its like to live, to get to do something extraordinary(because every dream come true is just that). We encourage you to embrace the get to’s in life, because life is an adventure after all.