I Have No Damn Bucket List

In a recent flip-through of my Emmy Magazine, I read this little nugget in an interview with Oprah Winfrey:

Is there anything on your bucket list that you haven’t accomplished?
I don’t have a bucket list. Honestly.

My first reaction: “Well no shit, hon. When you’ve got a bazilliondy dollars, you own all the buckets! Duh!”

But then I kept reading.

Oprah Winfrey in Emmy Magazine

Click to enbiggen.

More fully, she said:

I don’t have a bucket list. Honestly. Because I live every day like I’m going to blow this one out. And I get excited by the smallest things. I think it stems from being content with myself from a very early age, when I didn’t have a lot of things to be appreciative of, except just being able to have food and shelter and so forth.

So I gave her the benefit of the doubt and kept reading. Glad I did, because then she really got to it:

I think what I see missing in the world of striving, striving, striving — and I have been one of those people — is appreciation and contentment. I see a lot of people in this business working, working — but I don’t see a lot of satisfaction.

Ah. There it is.

I take this one step further. When one of my more work-work-work focused clients wants to know how they can put more effort, more energy, more work toward a goal they’re so very passionate about reaching, I ask them to stop, take a breath, and answer a quick question before we get into that recipe.

I ask: Have you considered how we can find more JOY with this?

It’s as if they enter into a new relationship with their hustle with that one reframing question.

It’s so simple, but incredibly powerful. And it connects to what it is that Oprah, the gabillionaire, is saying here.

When we are blissed out by the simple stuff, the BIG STUFF doesn’t have the same “bucket list” allure it once did.

I’ll never forget when Keith and I moved into our apartment at the beach. We had been living in my one-bedroom apartment at the base of the Hollywood Hills and it was cramped. I mean, I had moved there before having met Keith and when he moved in with me, he brought a packed Ryder moving van from across the country with him. Full house. We needed more room.

So, we found the space we needed in a glorious two-bedroom, top-floor apartment with windows on all four sides, amazing ocean breezes and — most importantly to me at that moment — a dishwasher.

This felt like the most deluxe upgrade of our lives together at this point. We were so thrilled by something so simple.

And on the hottest day that summer we moved in, when we realized we were going to have to invest in some sort of fan to get through future heatwaves (as brief as they are, here at the beach), we decided to cool off by lying on the kitchen floor (since the rest of the place is carpeted). As we lay there, giggling, I looked up at the dishwasher and said, “I’m the richest woman in the world.”

Because I — at that moment — had everything I needed. Unconditional love. A cool floor to lie on. A major case of the giggles. And the feeling that a freakin’ dishwasher somehow made me fancier than I was before.

It’s been a long time since that day and Keith and I have seen a lot of growth in our lives together. It’s been thrilling — and sometimes scary — and almost always very simply HAPPY.

I remember being interviewed years ago about what my goals are, in life. I said, “Pretty simple. I wanna leave Hollywood better than I found it.”

And what I know about that goal is this: I achieved it the moment I started working in this industry as a child. Because even then I brought joy to every project I took on. I had fun and I shared professionalism, a love of storytelling, and a blissed-out feeling about getting to create entertainment for others to consume with everyone I met.

Nothing has changed.

So, no damn bucket list here either.

And because I may have built my wee little empire over here but have nothing close to Oprah money, I can safely say that I believe the big O when she says she means it. Because I do too.

Appreciation, satisfaction, and contentment beats the stress of always feeling as though you’re working toward something waaaaaay out there ANY day.

Try it.

You’ll be amazed what good stuff flows your way.

All my love,


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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12 Comments

  1. Sean Frost September 13, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Soooo, so important to not be so focused on the goal that you forget to enjoy the steps along the way. Journeys are for learning.

    Reply
  2. Sean Frost September 13, 2016 at 6:43 am

    By the way, the interview with Jill Maglione was amazeballs.

    Reply
  3. Lucy Russell September 14, 2016 at 3:52 am

    I love this blog so much it made me cry. Yes. This is just all of it. To find / re-find the joy in our work, in our lives, in as many moments as possible. To just come back to this. Thank you, Bonnie.

    Reply
  4. Katie Wegmann September 14, 2016 at 11:03 am

    This makes me think of Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. After working so damn hard that she now owns an entire *night* of television, she realized that she was still a deeply unhappy person. It turns out achievement chasing won’t make you love your life much more than you already do- if you’ve trained yourself to look for the negative, that won’t disappear overnight.

    Reply
  5. Jonathan Riggs September 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

    This is a breath of fresh air, Bonnie. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie September 16, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Sean — Exactly. And thanks for your feedback on the Jill Maglione podcast episode. Isn’t she lovely?

    Lucy — Aw, that’s so sweet. I’m glad it touched you and recentered you in some way. Stay focused on what’s truly important. So much love!

    Katie — Gosh, that’s so important, isn’t it? And to learn that as early as possible — THAT is the gift. Let’s not wait ’til we’re deeply unhappy WITH all the success in the world to fix the actual issue: our happiness center.

    Jonathan — My pleasure! Thanks for stopping by again! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  7. Laura September 20, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Brilliant! And just what I needed! How do you do that, Bon? You must be psychic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
  8. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie September 20, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Laura — I’ve always believed we’re connected. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m so glad this landed right on time for you. {{{hugs}}} See you in NY soon!

    Reply
  9. Sarah September 21, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    When we are blissed out by the simple stuff, the BIG STUFF doesnโ€™t have the same โ€œbucket listโ€ allure it once did.

    LOVE THIS! Thanks for sharing, Bonnie!

    Reply
  10. Bonnie Gillespie Bonnie Gillespie September 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Sarah — Absolutely my pleasure! Stay inspired! And keep enjoying those little things. They really are ENOUGH (and being blissed out by them really does lead to the bigger stuff). So wonderful!

    Reply
  11. Emma January 3, 2017 at 6:10 am

    Thank you so much for the reminder to take a breath and look for the joy!

    Reply

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