Nearly everyone has written down or, at the very least, thought about a bucket list at some point in their lives. These goals are usually far-fetched and may include accomplishments such as visiting various countries or experiencing once-in-a-lifetime adventures. This is the general issue with bucket lists: They’re great to dream about, but putting them into action can be difficult.

I belong to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and every year, our chapter hosts an annual retreat in which we run through a multitude of exercises and activities. More often than not, we do not have knowledge beforehand about the events or activities we will participate in. This helps create an intriguing experience for us and helps keep the experiences fresh. This year’s annual retreat was hosted in the small town of Saluda, North Carolina.Last year, this year, and next years' bucket listsThere were many different exercises that we worked through during the retreat, but one of the more unique activities really stuck with me. Our facilitator had us create our own obituaries. It might sound morbid at first, but it’s more of a test of creativity than imagining the end. Since we had no idea what to expect coming in, we really had no time to prepare our obituaries. They gave us 20 minutes and told us to run with it.

It was really a great opportunity to look not only at the things you have done with your life but also the things you hope to accomplish in your lifetime. While this may sound like a different way to create a bucket list, there’s much more to it. It requires you to be more intentional and think more about what you want to be remembered for rather than things you have experienced. We’re so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we never truly have time to reflect on our past or look toward the future. This was a great opportunity to sit back and take it all in.

As awkward as it might sound, I believe this exercise is a great way to break the ice or get to know people just a little bit better. As the holidays approach, think about setting some time aside to participate in this activity with your family. You may be shocked to hear what kind of ambitions your loved ones have. You may even come up with ways to help them reach their goals.

We experienced a number of other activities that called for some reflection. We talked at length about making an effort to create personal values and stick to them. Many businesses hit the ground running and spend time creating corporate or business values to develop a company culture. You can create a much better environment and work experience for yourself by better articulating what your personal values are and finding ways to apply them throughout your workday.

Of course, it wasn’t all classes and exercises at the retreat. We also made time for fun! Saluda has some beautiful scenery, and we took it all in as we ziplined and went on a white water rafting expedition. These activities weren’t for the faint of heart and created an exhilarating experience that allowed our chapter to become closer.

If you’ve been stuck daydreaming about your future and what you want to accomplish, I recommend mock writing your own obituary. As morbid as it may sound, it’s a great way to understand your life goals a little better. It can also help push you to find ways to make achieving your goals possible. Next time you want to add something to your bucket list, see how your mock obituary might look instead.

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning