Bucket lists help individuals focus energy, attain lifetime goals

Life lists can serve a purpose.

For 31-year-old Jen Schaefer, what she wants to accomplish comes in the form of a list of 100 items. It’s her “bucket list” of things she wants to do during her lifetime, and she keeps it handy at all times.

She has already crossed off seeing the Pyramids of Giza and the Empire State Building. Running a 5K is a list item she’s working toward now, and she signed up for a fitness group at the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center to help her train.

The stay-at-home mother used to run all the time, but once she joined the U.S. Army, running was no longer fun. It was required.

Now that she’s out of the Army, “I want to run my own pace,” Schaefer said. “Not the Army’s.”

After she crosses the finish line of a 5K, she will work toward another bucket list item: running a marathon.

Schaefer’s list helps her to focus her energy.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t get there,” Schaefer said, nearly repeating the subtitle of a book by Jack Canfield, “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.”

What’s on a person’s bucket list isn’t as important as having one, wrote Canfield, the author of more than 60 best-selling books. He urged readers to keep a bucket list to remind them of what they want to do with their lives.

“One of the most pervasive myths in the American culture today is that we are entitled to a great life — that somehow, somewhere, someone is responsible for filling our lives with continual happiness,” Canfield wrote.

But in reality, individuals are responsible for attaining what they want, Canfield maintained.

That’s where a bucket list comes in and why Schaefer took Canfield’s advice and created a list of items ranging from traveling to the rainforests of the Amazon and India’s Taj Mahal to mothering goals.

Every day Schaefer works toward completing one of those items. And she’s not the only Grand Valley resident going a step beyond New Year’s resolutions and carrying around a bucket list.

“There is so much to see in the world,” said Carrie Gudorf, voicing a common theme for bucket lists: travel.

“I want to see the Himalayas. I really want to go on an African safari,” the 29-year-old environmental consultant said.

“I want to take the train from Russia across Siberia,” said Gudorf, who also wants to sky dive on her 30th birthday.

The travel items on Marj Moon’s list are more domestic and specific. The 65-year-old Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado employee wants to visit Amish communities in Iowa and well-known gardens around the nation.

“I would love to drive to Michigan with my dog Pearl,” Moon said.

She also wants to see a live taping of “Oprah” with her daughter, Mary. However, “Oprah” is scheduled to go off the air in 2011, so getting tickets might prove tricky, Moon said.

Finding the finances to afford the items on a life list can also be tricky.

Completing a bucket list likely will feel more like a marathon than a sprint because many people likely don’t have all the tools, training or money to accomplish every item at one time, Canfield wrote.

Because money will probably play a part in accomplishing at least one item, Canfield recommended investing at least 10 percent of every paycheck in a fund for the future.

Retiring comfortably is one of the items on John Whitcomb’s nearly completed bucket list.

The 52-year-old former U.S. Marine said he has only three items left after going up in a hot air balloon several months ago. He wants to retire comfortably, fish in Alaska and golf in Scotland.

“Yup. That’ll do it,” Whitcomb said.

Like Whitcomb, Terry Reuwsaat’s list has narrowed with age. All the 61-year-old Cottonwood Liquors employee wants to do with the rest of his life is visit every power point on the planet.

Power points, or power spots, are the places where the combination of energy from the Earth is thought by some to be transformative to the human who stands on them, according to http://www.answer.com. Power points typically are places of natural beauty, holy significance or unexplained human constructions.

The pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge and Sedona, Ariz., are power points on Reuwsaat’s list.

Young, middle-aged or older, writing a bucket list really gets you thinking about what you really want to do, Gudorf said.

For Bea Conway, 53, that is playing the part of Mama Rose in the musical “Gypsy” because it’s one of her favorite parts.

Conway, who works at Rocky Mountain Health Plans, also would like to have lunch with Bonnie Raitt.

Conway is fascinated by how Raitt plays guitar.

Conway wants to star on the reality show “Amazing Race” with her husband. Watching the show is one of their favorite things to do together.

“If you want to see the world, that’s the way to do it,” Conway said. “Every time we watch, we say, ‘we need to get on that show.’”

Whether Conway runs her “Amazing Race” or Schaefer runs her 5K is still to be determined.

And that’s fine, according to Canfield.

“There is no perfect time to start,” he wrote. “If you are into astrology and you want to contact your astrologer about an auspicious date to get married, open your store, launch a new product line, or begin a concert tour, okay. I can understand that. But for everything else … get started. Don’t keep putting things off waiting for 12 doves to fly over your house in the sign of a cross ... Just start.”


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