Resolutions, Goals or Bucket Lists

Author: Janice McCaffrey


Resolution: a firm decision to do something. (Encarta Dictionary: English (North America). Goal: something that somebody wants to achieve. (Encarta Dictionary: English (North America). Bucket List: a list of all the things you want to accomplish before you expire. (

If a resolution is a firm decision to do something, why don’t we act on them? I know I’m more inclined to complete a goal than stick to a resolution. For me the key word is “wants”. I’ve learned that anything I should do (resolution type things: lose weight, exercise, etc) doesn’t get done, but anything I want to do (goals: keep my plants alive, Christmas gifts mailed by December 10th) usually does. And then there’s the Bucket List. From my perspective this has become more pressing as I age. The closer to my expiration date I get the more intent I am at refining and completing my list.

Twenty-five years ago I became friends with a 77-year old woman named Daphne. One day as we visited she handed me a small square of yellowed paper. Once in my hand, it felt worn thin and fragile so I used gentle care unfolding it. It was a plain rectangular shaped piece of note paper that had been folded and refolded many times and it contained a hand-written list. What I remember of it: become a teacher, live in the country, own my own home, study at Oxford, enjoy a financially secure retirement.

Daphne answered my questioning look, “As a young woman I worked as a secretary in the city and I wasn’t happy. One day I made a list of what I really wanted, folded it up and put it in my wallet. As I moved through life, and opportunities presented themselves, I followed my heart. What started as a list of desires is now a list of memories. I accomplished them all.”

Daphne’s experience inspired me. I went home and immediately wrote out my list. Over the years I have refined it adding and subtracting at will. And, like Daphne’s, my list is becoming cherished memories.

As Tennyson’s Wild Bells ring out the old and we enter the New Year, whether you choose Resolutions, Goals, or Bucket List, enjoy the vision and the journey.

Janice McCaffrey

4 thoughts on “Resolutions, Goals or Bucket Lists

  1. A wise woman taught me long ago to write down what I wanted to accomplish in my life, that I’d be more apt to make the choices to complete those goals than if they were just daydreams or wishes. She was right, as she often has been about life, and I still create my goals list each year. I’m glad I hear her voice in my head telling me to write it down and urging me ever forward. Those are great memories too.

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