The 'Bucket' List

By Deshun Deysel, Mountaineer
Advisor to ITC

I’m not one for new years’ resolutions. I’m a list maker, but not in the ‘groceries list’ kind of way. I’m one of those lucky women whose husband does the grocery shopping and (dare I say) he’s much better at it than his impatient wife. I simply don’t have the patience to compare prices and chase specials. He also seems to, miraculously, know how to balance the nutritional stuff with the little luxuries. But, I digress.

When I was 19 years old, I came across a fascinating article in the Reader’s Digest. The article argued that people who make lists for their long-term goals are more likely to accomplish them. According to research done on MBA graduates in the 70’s to 80’s in the USA, the study followed what had happened to the 30 subjects over a period of 15 years. They were astounded to discover that not all MBA graduates made it to ‘captain of industry’ status. Upon further investigation, they discovered that; among a number of common factors, the most common was that the top 10 had written down lists of their goals. The rest had not.

This article struck a very strong cord with me. At the time of reading the article, I was a first-year teaching student, studying on a bursary, living with my parents in the township and with little hope of a high-flying lifestyle. In fact, I had to work incredibly hard for every little cent I ever earned. I had a part-time job as a check-out girl in Checkers and eventually worked as a shop assistant in a clothing store. I was determined to at least get that one tertiary qualification, though. I was so inspired by the article, that I immediately set about writing a list of only 5 things:
1. Get a degree
2. Get a driver’s license
3. Buy a car
4. Travel oversees at least once
5. Own my own house

This was a ten-year plan. I had no way of knowing how to achieve items 3, 4 and 5 on my list, but I reasoned that the experiment would be worth trying. I put the list away in a shoebox that contained old school reports and literally forgot about it. I went about my life with all it’s ups and downs and all the various textures that casino online make up township life but, I suppose, my subconscious was hard at work making all this happen. When I moved into my new townhouse, at the age of 27, I discovered the old shoebox – as one does when you move house. In it I had found my list! To my astonishment the experiment worked!! By the time the last item on my list was accomplished, I was two years shy on my ten-year plan:

  1. Get a degree – I was 22 when I had graduated from 3 years at Teacher’s College and went on to study one more year at the University of Johannesburg, then RAU.
  2. Get a driver’s licence – I achieved my driver’s licence at 24 as well.
  3. Buy a car – I bought my first car at the age of 26
  4. Travel oversees at least once – By the time I’d rediscovered my list, I’d undertaken a backpacking trip to Europe, climbed Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and traveled to Nepal to climb Mt. Everest.
  5. Own my own house – The old shoebox was discovered when I was unpacking my personal items in my new house.

In the process of getting to these accomplishments, I also went through some tough personal challenges. There were times when I felt doomed to a life of low-income, abuse and depression. I failed my final year at college and had to write a supplementary exam. While doing so, my unqualified teacher’s salary was a meager R650 per month. I was date raped at 22 and ended up in psychiatric treatment, because I had become suicidal. I lost my first teaching job, so I ended up working in the same clothing store full-time (at a rate of R3.50 per hour) for about 4 months. As a shop assistant, I sold jeans to the girls I had taught the year before. I failed my driver’s license twice!

With hindsight, I can clearly see the events that shaped my future positively. They were the events I committed to paper, not the negative events that happened (because life does that anyway). I’m sure you’re familiar with the movie; “The Bucket List”. It’s a wonderfully inspiring story of two old men deciding that they want to really live the life of their dreams, before they kick the proverbial bucket.

You don’t have to wait that long. You can start right now. My challenge to you, the reader, is to write down the positive outcomes that you are hoping for in your life. Make a 5 to 10- year plan, no matter how intimidating it seems now. The bad stuff comes anyway, but if we dwell on them, then that’s the only future we can expect. It’s the good stuff you want to focus on. Do the experiment. Write a list. You may look at it from time to time. Make the list more real in your mind than the challenges you’re experiencing right now. Share it with someone you trust and who’s support you’ll need. I’d love to hear back from you in the next decade and see what you got.

So, yes!! I make lists. My lists have become more vivid and demanding. As I grow older, I find that my lists have become more values oriented. With God’s help, I have no doubt that I’ll look back at my current list and nod with joy and satisfaction one day.

Deshun Deysel & Associates
Encouraging Leadership in a context of Change & Diversity

No matter how high the mountain, there”s always a way up!
Deshun is the Founder and Director of Deshun Deysel & Associates (DDA). DDA exists as a resource to organisations in the areas of leadership, envisioning, efficacy, goal setting, motivation, diversity and organisational culture. Deshun’s professional life in the past 21 years, has straddled the worlds of high altitude mountaineering, teaching, training and facilitation. As a process facilitator, Deshun worked with The Pacific Institute in the areas of personal development and self-image psychology in SA and the USA. As a mountaineer, she has embarked on 14 high altitude expeditions on 5 continents, including 2 expeditions to Mt. Everest and 3 on Mt. Kilimanjaro. As a result, she has tremendous insight into how teams function when they’re at their best and at their worst. “As part of DDA’s ongoing research, we study the patterns of effective individuals and teams, and use our knowledge and experience from the high altitude, high risk environment of mountaineering to help bring about high performance cultures for our clients.”

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