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January, 2011

Creating Your Bucket List:
How to Set Amazing Goals
and Achieve Your Dreams
By Craig Harrison, DTM, Past District Governor

It's Time to Set Goals In and Beyond Toastmasters
To Achieve In Your Lifetime's Dreams

The Bucket List: A list of aspirations one wishes to achieve in one's lifetime, before he or she "kicks the bucket" and passes away.

The Toastmasters Bucket List: A list of personal or professional goals within Toastmasters or resulting from involvement with Toastmasters clubs, contests, curricula, to be pursued in one's lifetime.

In The Bucket List, a major motion picture starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two men, facing incurable diseases, realize they have limited time left to achieve personal goals yet unattained. They construct lists of places to go and experiences to be had, and then set about achieving them, as the clock ticks. They each created their own Bucket List.

Why wait until you're old or ill to pursue those goals you most yearn to achieve? In 2011 it's time to be bold and make your list, announce your intentions to others and let the universe work with you to achieve your goals. Your Toastmasters club and worldwide network are poised to assist you in pursuit of goals on your Bucket List, whether within or beyond the Toastmasters environment.

Your Toastmasters Bucket List

In addition to earning your CC and AC, CL and AL, and your DTM, you can set other goals for yourself as a Toastmaster. And why not? Quoting Past International President Helen Blanchard, "if you get out of Toastmasters all there is to get out of Toastmasters, you'll never get out of Toastmasters!" My question: what else do you want to achieve in Toastmasters? Put another way, what else, in this lifetime, would you like to achieve as a Toastmaster?

You: Like to speak and you like to travel.
Goal: Speak to clubs in all 50 United States, or in every province in Canada or China, or to clubs on every continent.

You: like to speak and you love to compete.
Goal: Win the World Championship of Public Speaking.

You: like to write as well as speak. And you have ideas to help other Toastmasters.
Goal: Get an article published in Toastmaster magazine.

You: want to help others turn their life around and give hope to those in need.
Goal: Start a Gavel Club at a local correctional institution

You: Have love leadership and are acquiring leadership experience in Toastmasters, business and/or government.
Goal: Aspire to serve as International President of Toastmasters.

The tools you’ve developed in Toastmasters will help you achieve your Bucket List goals.

Your Bucket List — Inspired by Toastmasters

Your Bucket List may be filled with goals and dreams inspired by Toastmasters, or else made possible by the skills and confidence, experiences and relationships forged through your Toastmasters experience. Many famous people — politicians, actors and business tycoons — have used Toastmasters to propel them to greatness. You can too.

You: Want to use your leadership, speaking and service skills to bring the gift of communication and leadership to other groups to extend their spheres of influence.
Goal: Start a club at your organization or for your favorite non-profit or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

You: Want to use your charisma, communication and leadership skills to reach millions.
Goal:  Host your own TV Show à la Oprah Winfrey (USA) or Yan Lang (PRC).

You: Have an amazing story to tell.
Goal: Publish a book to share yourbig ideas, tell your story and inspire others around the world.

You: Love languages, other cultures and are a citizen of the world.
Goal: Give a speech at the United Nations to bridge cultural and ideological gaps and bring our world closer together.

You: Love leadership, communication and politics.
Goal: Run for Mayor or Governor, President or Premier from your home city or state, region or country.

The key is that you go for your goal, and that it be meaningful, powerful and transformational!

"If you have a dream, go for it." So says Marshall Goldsmith PhD, New York Times best-selling author, management guru and executive coach. "If you don’t try to achieve your dreams when you are 25, you probably won’t when you are 45, 65 or 85. None of us will achieve all of our dreams."

Goldsmith, the author of Mojo, and What Got You Here Won't Get You There, helps top CEOs make lasting changes to increase their effectiveness. His advise rings true for us all: "The key question is not, “Did I achieve all of my dreams?” The key question is, “Did I at least try?” Old people almost never regretted the risks they took that failed. They almost always regretted the risks that they failed to take."

2011 is the time to pursue your Bucket List goals!

Progress on Congress

Consider 53-year old Buddy Burke, CL of Sunrise Toastmasters (362-57) in Walnut Creek California, who ran for Congress in California's 10th district in 2010. "It was something I always wanted to do. The only question was when." The catalyst: Toastmasters! "I felt five steps ahead due to my Toastmasters experience" said Burke, who entered the race with just two months to go. "I hit the ground running, using my communication and leadership skills gleaned in Toastmasters. Table Topics really helped me with the Question and Answer sessions in my campaigning."  Buddy's second club, Tales and Tellers in Danville CA, helps him hone his storytelling skills to connect with voters on a heart level. Though he lost in the primary, he identified thirty-two lessons he learned from the experience, and plans to run again.

A TEDucational Presentation

For Chamber ChattersToastmaster (2332-57) Andrea Spence, AL-Bronze, in Pleasanton California, proprietor of Mental Leverage™, Toastmasters is a staging area for ultimately giving a future talk to the world's movers and shakers at the TED Conference. (www.tedtalks.com). TED is where technology, entertainment and design converge. At TED Conferences big ideas meet BHAGs — big hairy audacious goals. The results literally change our world. And it's the place Spence wants to be, to teach people the enormous power of their minds, and how they can use it to their advantage to overcome stress, fear and anxiety and reach their true potential.

Examples run the Gamut

Among the goals found on my Bucket List:

  • To tell a tasteful joke in Mandarin, from memory, at  the Shanghai Humor Bilingual Toastmasters #998733 in the PRC. (First step: learn Mandarin.)
  • To be a featured storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough TN. (First step: I told at a Story Swap there in 2005.√)
  • To interview Bill Cosby on storytelling and humor for Toastmaster magazine (First step: going public with my goal through this article!)

Your Bucket List: Ready, Set Goal!

Ideas put to paper take on a power of their own. Whether you pray about your list, meditate on it, or create a brainstorming session with others to formulate it, ask yourself the following questions before you construct your Bucket List:

    • Where else do I want to go in life?
    • What else do I want to achieve in life?
    • Who do I want to become in life?

Your list can be a blend of people to meet, interview or work for, places to visit, live or relocate to, companies to work for, do business with or emulate when starting your own enterprise. Are there significant events you want to attend? Would you like to run with the bulls in Pamplona Spain? Or create your own Reality TV show? Play Carnegie Hall? Experience the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in England? Meet Brazilian futbol star Pélé? experience Ramadan in Mecca? Or the Cherry Blossom Festivals in Japan in April? Or Orbit earth's atmosphere? Visit the North or South Pole? Circumnavigate the earth via airplane, sailboat or dirigible?

Your List Should Be Perpetually Under Construction!

NY Times Best-Selling author and speaker Harvey  Mackay told me his best friend, Hall of Fame Football Coach Lou Holtz once made a list of 108 goals he had for his life. Among his goals: Win a National Championship in college football, Meet the Pope, and parachute out of an airplane. Each time he achieved one of his goals he checked it off his list…and replaced it a new goal!

Make Your List and Check It Weekly

So what are you waiting for? Construct your list today! Ask yourself "What do I want to achieve in my lifetime?"  Be bold. Items on your list should be really big and a real stretch.

Here are some tips for achieving your Bucket List goals.

  • Whether you handwrite or type your list, number it and commit it to paper. (Keeping it just "in your head" will hold you back!)
  • More than just writing your ambitions down, post them so you (and ideally others) can see them regularly. Whether goals are mounted or framed in your office, displayed on your computer screen via a screen saver for daily viewing, or are reviewed before you go to sleep each night or reviewed upon waking, be "in relationship" to your bucket list goals.
  • Now, tell the world. Through giving speeches, conversations with others, through your writings, journaling, bloging, tweeting, etc.
  • Review your goal weekly. Turn yours into a mantra! You can even record affirmations related to your goals to listen to while exercising, meditating or before falling asleep.
  • Visualize your goal completed. What does it feel like, sound like, look like?
  • Use social media you can share your bucket list goals with your network and garner support from around the world. Generate fans! There is great power in numbers.
  • Ask yourself: who can help you? And don’t forget your Toastmasters network: your club, your district, Toastmasters' LinkedIn and facebook communities and other groups around the globe.
  • Build your dream team of supporters locally and virtually who can help you achieve our goal. Communicate with them regularly about your successes and setbacks.
  • Now identify some logical steps along the way. By breaking down your fantastic goals into smaller steps or phases, you can tackle even the most complex or difficult goal and make it reachable.
  • Hold your vision at all times, on sunny days and raining days.
  • Celebrate each step achieved along the way (privately and with your team).
  • Consider using the High Performance Leadership program to achieve all or parts of each special goal.
  • Check the Toastmasters supply catalog for resources to help you achieve your goals.
  • Tell everyone in your universe so the universe can help you achieve your Bucket List goal.
  • Understand that some items will occur almost effortlessly while others will appear to be unattainable. Keep the faith. Achieving one may open new doors to others. You can't always predict, nor dictate, the order in which your goals will be realized. But work toward them every day, week and month.
  • Don't stop believing in your goals.

"When thinking about a goal, ask yourself, "How do I want this story to end?" Then choose to live in the story that will have this happy ending." So advises Dr. Marcia Reynolds, author of Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction. Reynolds, a Certified Speaking Professional,  reminds us all that we have little to lose by pursuing our bucket list goals. "Most of the time people react to a fear that is unclear. Once they articulate the possible consequences, they see that the risk is not that big. In fact, the possible gain of freedom, pride and joy is much greater than the possibility of loss."

Lastly, add me to your support team so I too can support your most noble endeavor!

SIDEBAR: Creating a Mind Map to Pursue A Goal

For Toastmaster Dale Harmon of San Leandro California's Shelf-Talkers club (1809-57), becoming a World Champion of Public Speaking was a daunting challenge. While he competed in club and area, division and district contests, he knew it would take take more to become a Toastmasters' World Champion. Using a mind map, Dale brainstormed all the different things he could do to improve his speechmaking, body language, humor, movements, mindset and more. Stay tuned for more from Dale in the coming years!

SIDEBAR: How to Work Your List

For every goal, answer the following questions to help you formalize a plan to achieve it:


Download your generic Mind Map, Action Plan and Resource Forms (PDF) for success here.

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