EPMEPM: Productivity

Life’s Too Short, says The Bucket List Guy

Trav Bell is widely known as The Bucket List Guy. Believing life is definitely too short, he recommends that everyone writes down a list of things they want to do before they die to help them work out their priorities in life.

LIFE IS TOO SHORT – we all know that. But with our busy business lifestyles, how many of us take account of it to live our dream, reach our goals and exceed all our own expectations?

We met the self-proclaimed ‘World’s Number One Bucket List Expert’, Trav Bell, the PPM Conference, who insists that taking care of your own needs and doing things that are fun from time to time will actually help you become more successful in business.

After 20 years in the personal fitness training industry, Trav had 21 personal training studios franchised around Australia. For Trav, though, sitting in an office managing these gyms was not enough and he ended up feeling unhappy and isolated.

“They say choose a career you love and you never work a day in your life, but I was working really hard and not enjoying it. I started to realise life is not about this, so if I was going to change anything I had to do it myself.”

It was at this point, feeling miserable, that he decided to make a change. He read a book by Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier, which he says changed his life. The book provides a three-step process, three intersecting circles: what gives you meaning, what gives you pleasure and what are your strengths. Once you work those out, in the middle you’ll find your ‘calling’. When Trav completed this, his knew his ‘calling’ was to be a motivational speaker and took that as a sign.

“Really I was trying to heal myself rather than everyone else. I studied. Put on a talk and had 40 people there. It was crap when I look back on it (laughs) but I was packaging all the personal development stuff that I learned, business motivation theory and the like. I got about halfway through and I started talking about my list to do before I died… Since I was 18 I’d always had one.

“So, I started talking about that. I said, ‘Who else has got one of these?’ All hands were hands down, so I said, ‘Look, what would you like to do before you die?’ Everyone went nuts and started sharing. At the end of it a lady came up to me and she said, ‘That list to do before you die stuff, it’s like a bucket list. You’re like the Bucket List Guy.’”

And the rest, as they say, is history. From there, Trav went home and registered TheBucketListGuy.com. He became the World’s Number One Bucket List Expert and has never looked back.

According to Trav, to make a bucket list you don’t have to make sacrifices. It’s simply about changing your priorities.

“A bucket list is a tangible life plan, where our business plan or our career plan has to fit into our life plan. It doesn’t have to be to climb Everest or go up the Eiffel Tower. Just choose life before business.

“I know for a fact that most people could run their businesses, probably in half the time that they actually do, and get the same result. We all know that we procrastinate and waste a bunch of time.

“The fact is, when you’re not clear about your bucket list, and you’re not actively pursuing all the things you want to do and building up your list, of course you’re going to fill your time [with other things]. It’s the vacuum effect; you’re going to fill your time with work, rather than life.”

Trav says it’s important to distinguish a ‘to do’ list from a bucket list. So how do you go about separating those? He suggests getting it all down on paper and making it real, writing your list and making a conscious effort to distinguish the priorities.

“If we don’t write them down and make [the bucket list] even more conscious, we tend to prioritise and go with what’s the most important thing on our to-do list.”

Looking at all the tasks and to-do list items in your business, Trav believes you need to start with the things you’re strongest in. Delegate as much as you can and focus on your strengths, rather than trying to fix your weaknesses. And know your value – don’t work for $5 an hour when your value is $100 an hour. He recommends filling your days with the most valuable priorities and then outsourcing the rest to people who are better at the work than you, but who are cheaper, so you can get a clearer mind on your day-to-day tasks – at the same time giving you more happiness.

“At the end of the day, a bucket list is a really cool way of goal setting and, I dare say, a more specific and more personally meaningful way of goal setting as well.

“There’s a presupposition where you need to create time-flow and cash-flow in order to do a bunch of the things on your bucket list. Get really clear on what you want to do and, obviously, why you want to do it – because it gives you more fun, adventure, fulfilment in your life. It gives you that sense of personal satisfaction.”

So what holds people back?

“Inertia. Inertia is created by ‘that’s all well and good for you, but not for me’. The thing that certainly shocks them out of their inertia is if something, unfortunately, goes wrong. To put quite a negative spin on it, if we were given a cancer diagnosis, we would certainly re-prioritise life over work, wouldn’t we?”

But Trav’s message is simple.

“This is really about getting a piece of paper out and writing. I know it seems really, really simple, but get it out and write on it and think ‘what do I truly want to do before I kick the bucket?’ My mission is to help people live a regret-free life, not a regretful life. The last thing you want to be doing is getting to 80 or 90, or whatever it might be, and then looking back on your life and going, ‘I wish, I should have, I could have…’.

“Create a bucket list, but go one step further. Take action.”

TRAV BELL’s website TheBucketListGuy.com has great tips and advice on how to make the most out of both your business life and your personal life including downloadable worksheets.

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