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From Bucket List to Priority List: How to Transform your Goals


Anybody who has ever felt the need for organization and motivation in life has made a bucket list at some point in their lives. It could be as a 8 year old, deciding what he wants for Christmas, or an 18 year old, working on things to do during college. The need and theme of bucket lists differ from person to person, but if you’ve had a bucket list of things you want to change about yourself, or do before you turn 40, lying in some dusty corner of your work desk, it’s time to get started on it now.

Most bucket lists that people make are a mix of different goals, some important, some mere whims and others just lying there under a heavy burden of procrastination. But time isn’t our card to play, and we’ve got to transform goals into priorities before it’s too late. But where does one begin? Not every thing you’ve ever listed down is going to be worth the time and effort. As much as we’d like to believe that everything we want to accomplish is important, that’s not always the case. Turning your bucket list into a priority list and transforming those very goals requires careful appraisal and planning. The following sections consists of four essential components that can help you take that step towards turning words in your bucket list into definable and achievable goals:


A bucket list that consists of goals that you scribbled out of frustration with your job, or a bad relationship with someone are not healthy goals. Genuine goals are those you want to achieve for yourself and are not born as reactions to something or someone. Positivity is extremely important to any priority list that you hope to achieve. For one, positivity is the only attitude that will get you closer to your goals, it’s also extremely important to keep you motivated. Imagine being around a bunch of people who aren’t optimistic about your diet regime. You won’t be able to stick to it, and it can actually be detrimental to your overall health. Things to look out for when determining if the aims on your priority list are positive:

  1. Look at the goal and try to remember why you wrote it down in the first place. If you can’t remember, it’s probably not worth it. If you can, was it after a fight, or a bad day at work? Scratch it out.
  1. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with our goals, just how we word and imbibe them within us. The goals that came out of need aren’t positive goals. The only way to avoid the negativity which can come is by want. You must want, not need that goal. Wants come out of genuine desires and passions and deserve to be on your priority list.

  1. Find meaning behind a particular goal. Before you begin achieving it, imagine yourself achieving it and gauge the change. Is the change worthwhile, does it involve hurting yourself or others around you? Then think again.

  1. Excuses. They work like parasites and feed off the same goals that created them. To enhance positivity, it’s important that you eliminate these excuses. Too long, too hard, too complicated. These are the most common excuses. Look for these the next time you procrastinate and insert the word ‘not’. “This is not too long.” Or, this is “not too complicated.”


Finding the passion and driving force behind a goal is the second step to take after incorporating a level of positivity into your goals. Your goals are positive, they indicate things you really want. But are you passionate about your wants? A quick example could be, you want to do an MBA because it can get you a well paying job in a renowned MNC. But is working with the MNC in whatever capacity you are offered really what you are passionate about? Passion is not defined by the amount of money it can get you, but the amount of satisfaction it gives you. A simple hobby can be a passion, but if you’re intent on pursuing it for a lifetime, then it classifies as a goal you are passionate about. Your goals should appeal to you even after a period of time. If they start appearing drab and boring, then they’re not the right ones to be on your priority list. Having the right goals is as important as having the right food and exercise to your well being.

Let’s look at the 4 essential things to your priority list when it comes to passion:

  1. Making sure your goals are wants and not needs can get much more complicated than you think Even when you decide that you want something, it’s essential that it’s also your intention to achieve and not a mere whim or wish that popped up. Passion without intention makes for loose goals. For example: climbing the Mount Everest is something you want, but are you sure it’s something you want to do, and not something that needs to happen so you can look good to others? Think about such grand items on your list.

  1. People can have passion for learning, or developing a skill too. For example, language. You want to learn how to write and converse in French, but is it because you think it’s a beautiful language, or it’ll help you in college? Or is it because your friend went on a business or student exchange to France, or you watched an Oscar winning French film? This works on the lines of integrity. It’s extremely important that you have integrity in your goals, because otherwise it’s a mere whim.

  1. Your goals are an extension of who you are and who you want to be. They will transform your personality or life if you achieve them, and hence they must have great personal significance. Adding a “fantasy” to the list, such as climbing the Mount Everest doesn’t qualify. Here’s why: ten years later when you actually get down to doing this task, are you going to be able to pay for it, and endure the physical pressure it would put on you? Do you have that much time to give to such a trip? Goals of personal significance have durability, and a little bit of far sightedness will go a long way in helping you actually achieve your list.

  1. Passion does not equal setting personal records or going extreme. A passion for film doesn’t mean spending hours watching IMDb’s Top 100 Drama Films, all of which you are unlikely to even find that entertaining. You’re allowed to be brave and experimental, but that doesn’t mean compromising on being realistic. Each goal would only make the others seem tougher. And it’s also a fact that a person can’t support every passion he has with the resources he has access to. So look out for real, realistic passions you can support. A life list of 10 achievable things is better than a list with 100 things, most of which you won’t be able to support.


They say discipline is the key to life. Well, they’re not wrong. Be it a short term goal, or a long term goal, no matter how you plan to achieve it, discipline is integral in the process. Transforming goals into priorities entails an equal responsibility on self towards achieving them in a disciplined manner. Positivity and passion can get you only so far in turning your resolutions into something more concrete and personally applicable, but remember, a priority list needs to your resolutions in order of priority too. The goal that tops the list requires utmost discipline to be achieved, because it is also the most important.

Discipline is always considered a heavy and serious word by many, but that shouldn’t be the case with you. The simplest of things like putting things back where you took them from, putting the cap back on the toothpaste and putting your socks in the wash daily can help you achieve a big goal of becoming more organised. Goal transformation isn’t about managing big things, it’s about having the parts of the whole in place. Make disciplining yourself fun by involving your friends in it. Consider achieving a goal together, where each watches over the other. Losing weight by joining the gym with a friend who goes to the gym daily will ensure you not only go, but also make the experience a little less daunting.


One can never emphasize enough on patience. You know your goals are positive, you know you are passionate about them, and you’ve been leading a disciplined routine to accomplish what’s on your priority list, but don’t expect miracles to happen overnight. You’re gonna find a lot of things still missing around your work space even after an entire day’s worth of organization. And you will find the weighing machine showing the same number for the first few weeks. The point is to not give up. A priority is a priority primarily because it has to be accomplished above everything else, despite the obstacles you face.

Patience is also worth rewarding. So when you find yourself having accomplished a goal, don’t forget to treat yourself. It could be a nice desert after a month’s work out, or a movie after getting things organized in your life. The more incentive you have for a goal, the better it is. If you ever find yourself getting worked up or losing heart, visualize yourself having achieved the goal. It could be you wearing that dress you wanted to for so long without looking flabby, or getting a Christmas bonus for your family from your boss for putting in extra hours at work. Patience can make you go places.

A few other quick tips to make sure you do the things you list out:

  1. Clarity and vision: Have goals that you can easily check off, by making them clear. When does it start and when does it end and what does it entail. A trip to the Taj Mahal is a definitive goal, but traveling the whole world (an impossibility) is not. Be specific in your goals. “Visit India” can be a goal, but a specific, goal would be something like standing in front of the Taj Mahal.
  1. Flexibility: Keep adding items, deleting and reviewing your list. If you’re serious about it, then being flexible with it is important. Say you lose some money in shares and can’t afford a fancy holiday, then push down to the bottom of the list.

  1. Don’t depend on luck and chance: Dining with a celebrity, or attending the 2012 London Olympics can be tricky, and even disappointing. Meeting your favorite celebrity is matter of luck, and going to the Olympics is also a matter of chance. You need to have the money to fly to London as well. And it’s a one time goal, the Olympics won’t happen in London for a good while either. Adding dates and times to goals should be avoided.

  1. Diversify: Your list can have so many themes and ideas. So brainstorm about the experiences you want to have and goals you want to achieve. A few categories to consider are:

           a. Personality Development (Personal Growth, Self – Improvement, Learning, Character)

           b. Travel (Recreational Opportunities, Leisure)

           c. Skills and Knowledge (Hobbies, Language, Social work)

           d. Career (Vocation, Work, Business, Success)

           e. Relationships (Love, Family, Romance, Friends)

            f. Experiences (Pleasure, Adventure, Spirituality)

           g. Money (Saving, Spending, Investments, Possessions)

  1. Make it “official” and get started now: Make your list official. Write it down on a paper, or a word document or use an online tool like ResolutionTweet.com. But make sure you brainstorm well and question the Positivity and Passion quotient of each. Put it up on your work table or refrigerator, anywhere it will get your due attention. And for the first item, keep something fairly doable, and get started on it today.

Remember, it’s not all that bad to not be able to accomplish goals. But take time out, and think about each of these four when analyzing your goals. Come up with a Priority List from your bunch of Bucket Lists and get ready for change.