STORY : LIVE YOUR BUCKET LIST
A magnificent adventure, 25 years
in the making
‘Life is to be lived as a magnificent adventure, or not at all.’ — Helen Keller, author and disability rights campaigner.
Everything was damp – the air, my face, my clothes, my backpack. I had been walking in thick cloud and mizzle for miles, hood up and head down, trying to stay dry. I was suffering from severe anemia, although I did not know it at the time. I thought that it was simple exhaustion that made my feet so heavy, my heart beat so fast and my lungs gasp for more oxygen. The mist veiled the view and muffled all sound. I had not seen or heard the sea for hours, even though I was walking the coast path. By rights, I should have felt dejected, bowed down by circumstance, yet I did not.
Because, after 25 years of dreaming, 6 months of planning and 52 days of walking, this was the day that I would fulfil my long-held dream to complete England’s 630-mile South West Coast Path.
The end of the path was within reach, so however exhausted I was and whatever the weather was throwing at me, this was a magnificent day. After decades of procrastination, I had finally decided to walk the path, and I would finish it no matter what.
I had turned something that had been on my bucket list for decades into reality. Walking the South West Coast Path was no longer something I had always wanted to do. It was something that I had done. I used skills and techniques that I have built up throughout my life to smash through some of my limiting beliefs, learn new skills, become more self-reliant, and extend my comfort zone.
In short, I expanded my horizons, and it was liberating.
Most people of a certain age have an ‘I have always wanted to…’ list. If you are younger, you might have a ‘One day, I would love to…’ list. This is your ‘bucket list’ – a list of things you want to do before a certain point in your life, or simply before you kick the bucket. Whether you want to learn another language, play in a rock band, run a marathon, write a book, or watch the sunset over Golden Gate Bridge, you will lead a much richer life if you start ticking things off your bucket list now. As you do, you will probably add new opportunities to your list, so there is no need to worry – you will never run out of dreams to fulfil.
In short, I expanded my horizons, and it was liberating.
It is a joy to dream. What could be more fun than sitting around a campfire with friends, talking about things you would love to do? Or putting the world to rights over a glass of wine? Imagine how much greater it would feel, though, to actually achieve those dreams. Your campfire conversations would be full of anecdotes about a life well-lived.
My book Live Your Bucket List gives you a step-by-step guide to living your bucket list. I have developed and refined this process over a lifetime, and I am delighted to be able to share it with you now.
Imagine setting off on a path that is heading towards your first bucket list dream. The path does not always head in a straight line. It has waymarkers that show you which way to go. Each step towards the waymarker is laid out clearly so that you know how to get there. The chapters in Live Your Bucket List are your waymarkers pointing you in the right direction.
While you’re walking along your path following the waymarkers, every now and again, you will reach a milestone. These mark significant moments in your journey. There are milestones within the book — igniting your dream, completing your plan, achieving your dream and reflecting on that achievement. These will help you know how far you’ve progressed along the way. They are moments for reflection and celebration as you get closer and closer to your goal of fulfilling your bucket list dream.
The first milestone is igniting your dream. If your bucket list is anything like mine, it will be overflowing with great ideas. The waymarkers on this leg of the journey will help you choose which dream you want to pursue, understand your reasons for wanting to do it, decide to act, and strengthen your resolve.
The second milestone is when you’ve completed your plan. It was not easy to achieve my bucket list dream of walking the South West Coast Path, but with good planning, it became manageable. Breaking down your dream into individual steps will make the whole process feel less daunting. Learning from others and planning for the worst will make things run more smoothly. And learning how to identify and use your superpowers while sidestepping your Achilles heels will increase your enjoyment. There are also waymarkers covering two of the biggest reasons that people do not turn their bucket list dreams into reality – time and money.
These first two milestones are like walking up the foothills towards the mountain of your dream. They represent the work you need to do in preparation for the final, glorious push to the summit.
Heading towards the third milestone of achieving your dream, the next set of waymarkers give you some life-hacks to apply while you are implementing your plan. These will help to make everything run more smoothly.
The fourth and final milestone covers something essential yet easily overlooked — reflection. It is important to congratulate yourself as you reach each waymarker, and check that you are still heading in the right direction. Reflection is also important at the end of your journey. It will help you to consolidate your memories and those things you have learned along the way. That is where long-term satisfaction lies.
Each of the waymarkers in Live Your Bucket List starts with relevant stories from my journey, highlighted with learning points for you to consider. After that, there are individual steps for you to take to help you on your journey.
Life is short, and time can slip by almost unnoticed. Bucket lists have a habit of growing, but having a long list of things you would like to do can be overwhelming. It can be fun to dream about the things on your bucket list, but actually turning them into reality is far more satisfying. Taking action on your bucket list allows to you live a life of passion while expanding your comfort zones and growing as a person.
It was not easy to achieve my bucket list dream of walking the South West Coast Path, but I guess that if it was going to be easy, I would have done it years ago. I had to overcome my fear of doing things on my own, become more resilient and smash through some long-held limiting beliefs.
I achieved this by using a set of techniques that I have perfected over many years, such as prioritising and defining goals, breaking down big goals into step-by-step plans, and reflecting on progress made. In Live Your Bucket List, I share these techniques in detail to help you achieve your bucket list dreams, and in doing so, expand your own horizons.
I have been perfecting this process my whole life. It works for me, and I know that it will work for you too. Are you ready for a big adventure? If so, don’t put it off; the time to act is now!
Julia’s book ‘Live Your Bucket List’ is available for purchase from Amazon here.
The first milestone is igniting your dream. If your bucket list is anything like mine, it will be overflowing with great ideas.
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Julia Goodfellow-Smith is an ordinary person who is doing something extraordinary — living her bucket list. She would like to help others do the same, which is why she has written this book.
She has held a variety of management and consultancy roles in a range of sectors including conservation volunteering, banking and construction. She is currently focusing her attention on adventure, writing and presenting.
Julia lives close to the Malvern Hills with her husband Mike. She spends a lot of time either wandering on the hills or working in their small woodland nearby. She is a member of the Women’s Institute and Toastmasters International, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Senator of Junior Chamber International (JCI).