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What’s on your bucket list? Recently, we asked our employees to submit their bucket lists for a project. We then posted all the lists anonymously and encouraged employees to determine which list belonged to each of their co-workers.

While this exercise was interesting and spurred quite a bit of discussion when the results were announced, the most surprising aspect of it for me was the simplicity and “reachability” of many of the bucket list items. Most of them were easily accomplished and not impossible to do within a reasonable budget.

The results reinforced my feeling that bucket lists are a convenient excuse that allow people to procrastinate and avoid doing now what they want to do someday. Sadly, I now believe this to be true, based on the results of this one very unscientific study of the 60+ individuals who chose to participate in our survey.

One of the most common responses to the “list” was skydiving. While I wouldn’t ever personally do this or recommend it, I think this is something that is within the reach of most of my employees.

Another common item was learning a foreign language. I, too, have always wanted to relearn the French that I once knew in high school. The availability of Rosetta Stone and other language learning opportunities and programs allows one to do this within a reasonable budget.

Based on these observations, I adopted a new mantra: Empty my bucket list. Instead of waiting to do something or putting it off for a better time, I now focus on getting it done. A recent example of this was a trip we took to Bhutan after viewing the movie “The Lunch Box” and a discussion centered on Bhutan, the happiest country in the world according to many measures, including the Bhutanese focus on Gross National Happiness rather than Gross Domestic Product. I had become fascinated by this country and decided to take our next trip there.

Several years ago, I might have put “Bhutan” in my bucket list category, but now with my new focus on doing things when the thought arises (within reason!), Bhutan was my next trip. The trip turned out to be very illuminating and the country itself unlike any other I have visited.

Another, much easier bucket list entry I accomplished was joining a lobbying group for physicians’ rights in Washington this past fall. For the past 10 years I had wanted to do this but found reasons to put it off each year. The overall experience was phenomenal and it is something I look back on with great pleasure, rather than looking forward to it.

While the lobbying experience or the Bhutan trip arguably may not be something that everyone would find on their bucket list or can afford to do, the concept of emptying your bucket is something that everyone should consider. This may mean taking a cooking lesson, starting a family, or going to a film festival—some of the many items on my employees’ lists. Luckily, many individuals reading this editorial have the ability to achieve their dreams or, at the very least, make an effort to do so.

And if you are wondering, for the project I submitted a bucket list that included a month sailing in the Caribbean, hiking through the Alps, and climbing Everest. Hey, we can dream, can’t we? n

Joel Schlessinger, MD
Chief Cosmetic Surgery Editor

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