A Bucket List Didn’t Make Me Happy, But This List Did

A bucket list is filled with life experiences or goals you want to accomplish before you die. The list can be anything from learning a new language to climbing Machu Picchu.

However, accomplishing or working towards these goals probably won’t bring you everyday happiness. It won’t add to or improve your day to day.

Your life is now. Right now. What you do today and every day is life. And since life is really made up of the everyday, I decided to make a different kind of “bucket” list. This is a bucket list of things to do or work towards to make your everyday happier.

Being intentional about my day has really made my every day so much more valuable and to me that is more important than going sky diving once. Here I will share with you my list of things I work towards to make my every day better.

 

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Small everyday simple goals

These are everyday little tasks I try to accomplish. They are small but I think really add a lot of value to the day. I think so many times, we just shuffle through the day trying to stay on top of the housework, appointments, careers, and schooling. You might not even realize how much life you are missing unless you actively try to truly live each day intentionally.

A fun moment

I remember and set aside time to do all types of chores with our kids like teeth brushing. But how many of us set aside time every day to have fun? I mean pure 100% fun. This means being fully engaged and interacting with your kids. Put down the phone and get the giggles going.

Try to pick a time during the day when you can have some fun. Pick what works for you so that you can be consistent. By “scheduling” this time, you are more likely to do it every day.

No phone time

There is a lot of good things that have come with phones such as navigation and being able to access everyone and everything in seconds. However, it is way too easy to waste time on your phone. If it isn’t bringing you joy and you are just going on it to kill time, you need to change how you use your phone.

I try to limit how often I check my phone. Kill your notifications for anything not essential. Now also pick times during the day when there is no phone. We do all mealtimes as no phone to encourage conversation. You can have everyone tell about their day or say what was the best part.

These conversations are valuable. This is when you connect and have that family bonding.  Eventually, your kids will be bigger and move out. It is now that you build that foundational relationship with them. No matter how little or big your kids are, put away the phone and start talking.

I have also found that getting an Apple Watch has resulted in a lot less “going on” my phone. I see the important things but don’t get distracted checking every app. I think that it also sets a better example for my children. They don’t see me on my phone 24/7, instead I check my watch every so often.

Family time

Spend at least 15 minutes together as a family. Yes, I mean the whole family. Depending on the age of your kids, you can do anything from playtime and crafts to books and boardgames. As kids get bigger, it is harder to make this happen, but you will cherish these times so much so make it part of your every day.

Other ideas are to do a family morning or family night on the weekend especially if it’s hard to have the full family together every day.

Express Gratitude

You honestly never know what day will be your last. And yet I have found that very few people often say what they feel. Very few often tell people just how much they mean to them or why they are so thankful for them. Express your gratitude to your family. Send someone a “thinking of you message”. We live in a busy culture where it is rare to take the time to say something nice.

Try this for a week and watch your mood soar. It is amazing how much you can change your every day disposition by just what you choose to say. Another bonus is that the people who know you value them will also be happier.

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An act of love

If you haven’t discovered the famous 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman already, then you need to. They are life changing. The five love languages are words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. Find out which one speaks most to you and your other half. Then try to find small ways to fill that person’s love tank every day. Seriously the best thing I ever did for my marriage.

Get outside (or at least out of the house)

Yes, even in the middle of winter. Even if its just to get the mail out of the mailbox. If the weather really sucks, then I also plan visits to indoor botanical gardens and butterfly houses.

The outside does wonders for how well your day goes. I try to get outside in the morning or evening. I avoid the outside midday since the sun’s UV rays are so damaging then.

And if you don’t have nature around you, bring it inside. We added a lot of plants this year to our house and it made such a difference.

Intentional goodnights

Most people have heard the advice “don’t go to bed angry.” I fully agree with this. Additionally, I like to end the day on a high note with my kids. I tell my kids my favorite part of my day with each of them. I want them going to sleep feeling loved. I also always ask them what their favorite part of the day was.

Goals to work towards

These are things that if I learn or do, then my every day will be better such as less mess, less stress and more time to spend on the important things. Therefore, these goals have become a priority in my life.

Try to do the hardest task first

Now I am not a morning person. If I could, I would skip the whole morning and sleep in. However, I have found that if I don’t get the tough, hard to complete tasks done in the morning they just don’t get done.

Once the day starts and gets busy, I won’t be able to find the energy to accomplish hard tasks. Then by the time evening hits and I have finished bedtimes and evening chores, I have no brain left. All I want to do is relax.

In fact, a good rule of thumb is to make your first two hours of the day as intentional as possible. My morning routine was turned around for the better once I watched Crystal Paine’s Morning Makeover. If you go to the course page and go all the way to the bottom, you can get the first day of the course for free.

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Learn how to meal prep

Ever since I became a mom, I can’t believe I used to complain that I was busy before kids. Oh, how I’d wish for that type of free time. Therefore, one of the biggest goals I am working towards is to free up time in my day.

Planning, shopping and prepping food takes up an insane amount of time. I feel like I am always in the kitchen. Getting on the “freezer” meal prep train was the best thing I have done since becoming a mom. I seriously save 10 hours a week at least.

Eating healthy is pretty important to me. Freezer meal prep means you buy everything fresh for two weeks’ worth of meals. You then chop everything for all two weeks at once and then store each “meal” in a freezer zip lock. Then just pull the meal out of the freezer the day before. Since it’s prepped, you just have to pop it into the oven, crock pot or cook it on the stove. Less dishes, less time, and less hassle.

Add in more healthy living

When I feel good, I am able to enjoy the day so much more. Therefore, I am constantly working towards making my life healthier. One tradition we have in our home is to always try a new vegetable or fruit each week. We might incorporate it into a new recipe, or I’ll add it to lunches. It is a great way to help kids eat more variety also if you include them in it.

Another fantastic way to live a healthier life is to join a farm share. We do a farm share every summer. I guarantee most weeks you will get a fruit or vegetable you haven’t tried. Since the work of finding new vegetables is already done for you through the farm share, you are more likely to eat variety.

Most farm shares also have a pick your own. We pick fruits, spices and flowers every time. There is nothing more wonderful than fresh farm flowers on your table in summer. I also love how going to a farm every week teaches my kids about food. They learn food is from the earth, not from a box in the store.

In addition to food, I have worked hard to find a way to enjoy exercise. Enjoy is important here. Remember this is a bucket list of things to do or work towards to make your every day happier. Getting your blood flowing every day can do a lot for your health.

Being and feeling healthy will improve your every day but not at the cost of hating every minute of walking on that treadmill. Try a water aerobics class, a Zumba dance class, start walking with a friend on a regular basis. It doesn’t need to be traditional either, try a yoga class or join a hiking group.

Streamline all calendars

You can have a calendar for literally everything: birthdays, cleaning, meals, appointments etc. One of the best ways to make your day better is to have calendars for everything. The more calendars you have, the fewer mental lists you have to keep. Mental lists are exhausting and the mental chatter that your brains does all day trying to manage everything is exhausting. It steals from energy you could be using on fun activities or conversations.

For instance, you open the fridge door and think the fridge needs to be cleaned. When will I get that done? Well if you have a master cleaning calendar, you know it will because it is accounted for. A calendar like a cleaning calendar also allows you to make sure you do a little bit every day. You don’t have the stress of a messy house that you have to spend a whole day cleaning. The same goes with bills or any house task, if you get it on a calendar, you won’t stress that it is done on time. You just set aside time every day for your calendar tasks.

Now after you take the time to organize and make these calendars (and it will take time but be worth it). Share them with your other half. I find that it is important for my husband to see what I am up to all day. I think that knowing what the other person does all day makes you more supportive and appreciative. I use google calendars because it is so easy to sync with all electronics and other people.

I especially suggest a birthday calendar because remembering people’s birthday is a big deal. No matter how old you get or who you are, you remember who took the time to say happy birthday. I used to try to mentally remember people’s birthday, but I usually get the date wrong by a day or so. I then worry and stress over getting their card out. The extra stress isn’t worth it so make a birthday calendar too.

Utilize those “5” minutes

Have you ever realized how many times during the day, you just waste five minutes. You check your phone, you wait for the coffee or the microwave. Seriously, take note throughout the day whenever you have five minutes. Now add all of those up. Wouldn’t you love to have that type of time to use as you wish?

Well, I have found that if I started using all of those five minutes productively, I don’t have to catch up on any chores at the end of the day. For example, I now unstack while my coffee brews in the morning. During all those other five minutes, I consult my calendars to see what task I can quickly get done, like paying a bill or making a phone call or even just starting a load of laundry.

I never wanted to be productive during those five minute breaks because I was always so exhausted. I never had free time. However, it was finally utilizing those five minutes to get things done that gave me the extra time at the end of the day to relax and recover. I was actually completing my to-do lists. I was also finally getting that time I needed to unwind at the end of the day so I could do it all again the next day.

Tackle a room not a house

Every single time I tried to improve the organization of our house; it didn’t really work. I found that I got overwhelmed thinking of the whole house. Instead I needed to only focus on one room at a time. Having less stuff and more organization does wonders for the mind. It also does wonders for how much time you have to spend cleaning. I also found that after I started doing this, creating the space to be how I wanted it also made me happier. For example, adding flowers to our kitchen makes me happy. Painting and decorating our master bedroom to be tranquil and serene makes me happy. Every time I walk in to a room that I have decluttered, organized, decorated and finished, I feel happy.

Before, I would instantly get stressed or frustrated because the mental to-do list would start. I would think of how much cleaning or decluttering I would need to do. I would think of how I wished I would find the time to paint or re-arrange.

My advice is start with the room that needs the most TLC. Make a detailed list of everything you want to change about the room. Go through the contents and determine what type of organizational things you need. Get rid of anything that you don’t need or that doesn’t bring you joy anymore.

Become a savvy trip planner

I always talk about all the things I want to do with my kids. I want to go camping with them, take them to the beach, do road trips, visit Disney, etc. I want to explore life with them. Unfortunately, wanting these things doesn’t help at all in the logistics.

It is a lot of work to just plan a day outing. To be able to make travel and trips a reality, you need to make trip planning one of your skills. Everything from finding deals and booking to packing. The better you get and the more time you spend on this skill, the more often and more fun you will have traveling.

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Learn how to long-term plan

I like to always be working toward a bigger goal. This goal can be something like buying a house to teaching myself a new skill to working on my patience. When working on big goals, I find that I don’t make progress.

The goal is so big or abstract or far away that I can’t break it into all the little steps. Therefore, the goal results in a lot of stress and feelings of failure because I don’t feel like I am making progress.

Learning how to long-term plan using strategic planning has added a lot of fulfillment to my life. I love knowing I am making steps towards the bigger picture. I used this type of planning to become financially savvy. I learned how to save more and to earn more. Removing money stress from my life made a big difference in my everyday happiness and I couldn’t have done that without long-term planning.

Pursue your everyday goals Today

You don’t need big adventures. You don’t need to travel the world. You can find life-affirming activities in the simple everyday life. Everyone fears the life not lived and to me that means you didn’t enjoy the day to day. You didn’t Pursue Today.

So, make your everyday bucket list that makes you feel alive every day, that builds relationships that are more than enough for a lifetime, that frees you from the stress of everyday and give you more time for the people that matter.

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