In the world of cheesy phrases, "bucket list" is probably right at the top. It's a cliché that's been propagated by life coaches and public figures throughout the world. Despite the reputation this phrase holds for many people, I believe it's absolutely essential that every business owner have one of their own. Why? Because every entrepreneur started with a dream, lofty goals and a desire to do more in their life.
Yet all too often, a few years into their startup, thousands of business owners neglect the personal goals they'd set out for themselves in the beginning. Maybe it's because they got too focused on staying afloat, or maybe it became more about making money, and experiences got pushed to the wayside.
Whatever the reason, I firmly believe that experiences in life matter (research backs this up too). That's why I hang onto my bucket list: It pushes me to do more, learn more and constantly seek out new adventures and experiences. Here's why I think every entrepreneur should have a bucket list, too.
1. It's easy to forget about personal goals in the midst of building a business.
Let's face it, building a business is tough. Even though we see hundreds of blogs out there from entrepreneurs who have "made it," few of them actually like to discuss the behind-the-scenes struggle.
We know that success in any business isn't a straight line; it's more like a rollercoaster ride with ups, downs and false starts. So in the middle of that ride, it's really easy to get distracted from the real reasons you initially set out to work for yourself.
A few years out of school, I worked as a financial analyst, and no one in my company was doing anything exciting or bucket list-worthy. It was understandable -- it was a new business, and the job took priority. But a few years later, when I left to build my own business, I set a goal for myself: I wanted to cross one thing off my bucket list a month. It helped me to stay excited about my business, rather than feel like I'd simply created a job for myself. There's nothing like smoking cigars in Havana or snorkeling in the Red Sea to keep you focused on your business goals.
2. You write down your business goals, but why not personal goals?
How many times in your life have you said, "I'll do that someday?" The truth is, unless you actually write it down and set some kind of timeline to it, it's probably not going to happen.
Writing down goals has two concrete effects: It helps you focus on what matters, and it works. Experts have found over and over again that just the simple act of writing down your goals helps you accomplish them.
My guess is that you write down your business goals, review them, then check back on them on a regular basis. But do you do that with your personal goals, too? Use your bucket list not only as a way to rekindle all those dreams you had, but also to hold yourself accountable.
Plenty of accomplished entrepreneurs have their own bucket list too: Jack Canfield has 101 lifetime goals on his site; Gary Vaynerchuck tells everyone who'll listen that he wants to buy the New York Jets; and Brian Scudamore, founder of 1-800-Got-Junk, was so inspired by Ted Lionsis' list of "101 things to do before you die" that he created his own too.
So think about 10 things you haven't done in your life that you want to, and write them down.
3. Lead by example and make your employees happier.
People want to work for companies that care about them.
When I was in finance, I never felt like people cared about the things that truly got me excited. Now, I encourage everyone I work with to work remotely and have as many experiences as possible. That's the wonder of technology -- as long as the work gets done, it doesn't matter where you are or how you do it. By taking your own personal goals seriously, you can inspire your employees to do the same, which can lead to more happiness, and in turn, greater productivity.
Take Ramit Sethi of "I Will Teach You to be Rich." His multimillion dollar brand is run via remote teams, yet he makes sure to offer plenty of vacation time and education reimbursement for employees looking to hit their goals.
HelpScout is another brand that's big on adventure. In 2015, they organized a company-wide retreat to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to have fun and experience new adventures.
Sure, there are plenty of people who might disagree, but I believe that by believing lifestyle success to be as important as business success, both the business and its employees will be healthier.
4. The person who wins is the one with the most stories.
At the end of the day, all the work you do only matters to a point. Do you want to be known as the person who worked 80 hours a week, had millions of dollars, and didn't have time to do anything with it?
The person who wins in life, on the other hand, is the one with the most stories. Many of those stories could be about your business, how you grew it, and the successes and failures you encountered along the way. But I hope your stories go beyond that: I hope you can talk about the $10,000 flight you booked using airline rewards you'd racked up. Or the time you met the guy who invented the computer at a random coffee shop. Maybe you can just talk about the time you took your significant other out on a surprise date on a Tuesday.
Regardless of what stories you want to tell, there should be more to it than just work. The easiest way to start making those stories a reality is to create a bucket list.
Sean Ogle helps people build small businesses that let they can run from anywhere on Earth through his business, Location Rebel.