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Rethinking Your Bucket List

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By Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer Explore Big Sky Contributor

Many people have a “bucket list” that tracks the adventures, skills or new experiences they want to undertake before passing on, or kicking the bucket, if you will. Can you think of a few items on your list? These lists typically include traveling to exotic places, running a marathon, summiting a mountain peak, skydiving, or becoming fluent in another language.

Browse around, and you’ll find people’s desire to sleep in an ice hotel, soak in a natural spring in Iceland, be hypnotized, try shark cage diving, learn tai chi, dance at a masquerade ball and swim under the stars. Most center on individual fulfillment or growth.

On one person’s list though, there is a goal to “make a stranger smile every day.” How intriguing. Imagine what we could accomplish if we rethought our own bucket list to focus on giving to others, as well as fulfilling ourselves?

Take a minute and refocus your mental bucket list on serving others. What items are on it now? What have you always wanted to do that could make a difference?

We all know the opportunities to give are limitless. How would you like to give and serve in the physical time you have left? What small changes can you make to give hope and opportunity to others? Never doubt your power to improve the lives of those around you. Your daily commitments of generosity, service and grace can positively impact those close to you and afar.

The opportunity to rethink our life bucket lists is always in our control. As economist and playwright George Bernard Shaw has said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

The simple commitment to do one thing every day to improve the lives of others will shift what is possible. We can also take on greater challenges that reach across barriers of race, class and other divides to improve humanity and care for our Earth.

This commitment is at the heart of citizen leadership. Citizen leaders are people, like you, who use their experiences, skills, resources and knowledge to step up when they see others need help.

“Citizen leaders are the men, women, young adults and teens who take stock of the kind of world they want to help shape for the people they care about and act to make it so,” said Peter Alduino, author of The Citizen Leader.

While deepening our commitment to our community and our world, citizen leaders also come to better know ourselves. The more we do for others, the more we understand our own abilities. This introspection enables us to widen our impact over time.

A life of citizen service engages others, as well. Sharing a focus on service can heighten our collective impact. In the words of American anthropologist Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that the actions of a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Imagine if we could we share our bucket lists of ideas for citizen service? What would our collective list contain?

Today is a good day to start rethinking and refocusing our bucket lists for the future. What is on your list?

Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer is the executive director of Hopa Mountain, a Bozeman-based nonprofit organization that invests in rural and tribal citizen leaders, adults and youth, who are working to improve education, ecological health, and economic development.

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