Don’t have a bucket list yet? Why you should write one…today

In my recent sign-off as the Editor in Chief of Shape, I mentioned having a bucket list and so many people wrote to me…curious just what was on it. Well, here’s a peek at what’s on my ever-evolving list right now.

Nothing fancy; just written from the heart

There are a couple of things etched into my memory over the past year. The first is the face of my 3-year-old daughter asking me hopefully “Mommy, you stay home all day with me?” as I was rushing to catch the early-morning train. “Oh, no sweetie, not today. Mommy has to go to work,” was always my response. Her thumb went into her mouth (she’s a big thumb sucker) and her face was crestfallen. (Truth is, I had been working 60+ hours a week since before she was born and had never really spent any quality time with her, so every time she asked this was like a dagger in my heart.)

The second thing I so clearly remember is my grandmother, who turns 93 this Wednesday, telling me: “Valerie, one day you have to slow down before it’s too late. Your children grow up quickly and then you’ll be 93 and regret not having been there for them. You can never get back time.”

Assessing, and re-assessing your needs, throughout your life is so important as those needs change. (Years ago, I didn’t even want kids as I felt it would “mess up” my career…and now here I am leaving a job, partly for my kids.) But I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel when I pick up my 6-year-old son from school these days and see his smile when he spots me (this coming from a child who told me last year that he was the only kid whose mom NEVER picked him up from school…which is true).

So for right now, my kids are my priority. It’s not something that I can afford to do for a long time, but it’s something that I’ve been enjoying every second of for now.

Yoga is the second priority. I’ve always been a sprint-Spin-swim kind of girl and my previous lifestyle of commuting 3 hours a day and working 60+ hours a week definitely fed into that. I never had time for yoga and honestly, the few yoga courses I did try, I hated. I was B-O-R-E-D and beyond anxious to get free from the class!! (“God, when will this class be over?” is what would be going through my mind as I was trying to stretch my body into various poses.) But I know how important yoga is for the body and mind…so I want to really give it a chance. (I also think it will  help me deal with stress throughout any stage of my life.) I start this Friday and have signed up for (and paid for…so no backing out!) 5 weekly sessions. (I’ll keep you posted on how I do!) Of course, I’ll still be running, swimming, biking and strength training, but this will hopefully balance out those more intense workouts. This, plus enjoying every single moment, is what I hope will help me slow down and learn to breathe again (not the quick, rapid “I have to get these deadlines out” or “I have to make this train” breaths I’ve been so used to).

Slowing down to travel with my family would be nice too…but we haven’t figured this one out yet. Having given up 21 days of vacation last year (that I never had time to take), it would be great to really get away—and do so, without having to check my work e-mails every minute of every day! More on that once I figure it out!

The last couple of points on my current bucket list are what I hope to learn (and do) moving forward. Learning about everything digital (this is the future of media, which is why I’m heading back to school [NYU] in a few weeks to learn more about it). My motto: never be afraid to admit you don’t know something…and get out there to learn what you do need to know. And someday, I hope to write a book—no details on that yet!

And then whatever job I move into, I want to continue to be the kind of boss who allows her employees the flexibility to have a life. (I’m continually surprised by how many employers—many of whom I’ve worked for!—refuse to allow that kind of work-life balance.)

But writing your goals down is so important; whether you make a bucket list or a list of things you hope to accomplish this month or this year, putting pen to paper helps you clarify where you’re going or what you hope to achieve. It prioritizes things for you so—like my grandmother said—you don’t have any regrets years down the road. And regrets is one thing I never want to have. As I’ve always said: life is just too darned short for that.

So if you don’t have a list, write one up today…and remember, it can change and evolve. But the key is to write it from the heart.

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Valerie LatonaAbout Valerie Latona
As the former editor in chief of Shape (the active lifestyle magazine) for 5 years, I personally spoke with a lot of women (thousands over the years, from around the nation) and what I found is this: it's not easy to stay healthy, to get (and stay) fit, and to stem the weight gain tide (and even the tide of disease) that inevitably happens to us as we get older.