So the bucket list. A list of all those things you would love to do before you die. A list of dreams. A phrase which has buzzed around more since the film of the same name (starring Morgan Freeman) brought it into our heads again. An idea which appeals to our desiring nature, and our dreaming hearts. A bucket list for a business is a place to put ideals. I know not everyone likes to work with their head in the clouds, but hear me out. Write down all the things you want to do in life. Seriously, as if you could wave a wand. I worked hard through school and university, got myself the 'proper job' and then woke up one morning and thought: 'Hang on, I've been focusing all my efforts on getting here that I forgot to ask what I want out of life'. It turned out it wasn't that. Have dreams. Don't be worried if you think it's a long list. Worry if it's a very short list. That will require more of the hard work. Digging yourself out of years of a mindset takes time. You need Tama Kieves or Chris Guillebeau or John Williams or Emilie Wapnick to help you realise you can be different, if that's what you want.
A bucket list is useful because you can see how honest you are with yourself. Read back over the list you have created. Do you really want to do these things? Tweak them, to be really specific. You want to go sailing? Where? Along the Hamble? Across the Atlantic? With whom? A crew? Your mum? Richard Branson? Carry on.
A bucket list requires you to define your direction. You can walk away but you little pen to paper has given the dreams a little more space in your head, a few more heartbeats. Knowing what you want out of life is the first step towards action.
So how does it relate to business? And how does it make business happy?
Seth Godin has written here about the levels of doing business can make or break you. Seth has fingers on pulses and he writes solidly. However, that does not preclude you having a vision, an ideal. By creating the image of how your business looks 'perfected' is a good way to focus your next steps and try out some new ideas. It might include your perfect administrative system or your social media attention.
By creating the ideal, we can clarify our mission and standpoint. But the illusion of perfection holds us back. Who are you trying to be perfect for? If you don't know, why is it important? Question yourself to shatter this illusion. It will hold you back.
Knowing who you are, what you want and what you stand for can give you strength where before you have been weak. You can't do everything, and knowing what you don't want is very important. It means that you can say 'no' to those things. It means that you strip out what is wrong, and savour what is right.
Am I too young to make these kinds of demands, you ask? What about bosses who make me work all night, put me down in front of my co-workers, do not reward initiative? So game plan. Move sideways, hop companies. Look for what you want. If you work hard, do good work and can show you learn from your mistakes, you are a good worker. Know that's what you are. Separate out the emotion of office politics and up your game. Work as though you're self-employed. Then armed with your bucket list, look for those who honour what you value. And live your life to the full.