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May 19, 2020

Three ways to realign your outdoor goals and dreams with meaning.

Photo By: Melissa Brown
Photo By: Melissa Brown


Like everyone, I have my fair share of awesome places I’d love to go and many outdoor goals to achieve before any ‘bucketing kicking’ kicks in.

Thanks to the current pandemic, a serious cut in income, a currency falling through the floor and no international flights until who knows when... it’s time to reassess and reevaluate that so called bucket list. Yes, the one recently shot through with a thousand holes.

But what if the holes in the bucket are not the problem? What if it is more about what I chose to put in there in the first place?

The coronavirus pandemic and the economic earthquake rumbling in its wake, is forcing all of us to check-in with a new reality.

It demands we ask some pretty uncomfortable questions, about where we are going with life, what is worth our efforts and what is most important to us?

What I have found is a little more humility, pragmatism and emphasis on meaning, can change a bucket list into a living manifesto instead of an overwhelming list of disappointments.

Know What Gives You Meaning

Photo By: @jessthecreative
Photo By: @jessthecreative


Reflecting on my bucket list over the last weeks, one thing I realised quickly was that superficial goals which stroked my ego or had a heavy dose of brag-factor built in, would have to go. It is not about the goal itself after all, but about the emotion, the people involved and the why! Those are the things that give purpose.

Goals that included a purpose and a chance to make the world better through my choices, were deemed to have meaning. So I switched from climbing the highest peaks to focusing first on finding a life partner to share them with or doing something that benefits others who may never have such opportunities.

How to Do It

Photo by: @marioogle
Photo by: @marioogle


Realigning your bucket list might start with removing the big mostly out-of-reach dreams that are usually at the top of the list. Like climbing Everest or cycling from Cape to Cairo, or paddling across the Atlantic. Don’t get me wrong I want to do all of these, but now with with a new emphasis and purpose. Here is how:

  1. Reverse the list. Put those big dreams at the bottom.
  2. Put the weekly goals that bring you joy at the top. List those things you are already doing, not because you are searching for a big goal, but because they inherently bring you joy and you do them with people you love.
  3. Your team will help you make your dream. Start building connections with the right people. People who know how to have fun, and who will also hold you accountable to your goals.
  4. Find a cause that gives back. We can all use our passions to make the world a better place for others or the environment. Doing so means you are not out there just for yourself, but for a whole community that can benefit from your dream becoming real.

From Bucket List to a Lifestyle Manifesto

Photo By: @deancothill
Photo By: @deancothill

When we place value on extrinsic things, like the price of a car and or the most expensive trips, we are denying ourselves the benefits of intrinsic value, things like kindness, humility, generosity and relationships.

None of us know how long our life will be. A list of goals and dreams that are not part of our everyday — our everyday that make us feel like we are living an awesome life — are not worth pursuing.

I am coming out of this lockdown with a renewed sense of what I want to achieve, putting the ‘this life lived now’ goals first and aligning each one with meaning, a great team and a cause.

That cycle to Cairo well, is now with a non-profit organisation to help orphans. That climb up Everest, well that’s scrapped completely. I am more keen to hike the Annapurna with my long-time friend who hates heights but loves the sight of mountains. And as for paddling across the Atlantic, well, I have set up a schedule with Mike to train together every week. Maybe we decide to do the Atlantic, but maybe it’s enough just paddling out into the bay each Sunday. Living our best life now.

Forget the holes in your bucket list, maybe even consider throwing it away, rather take up the challenge of the freedom to live your best life by scheduling each week at least one activity you love and that brings you joy. Link it to a goal with others or with a purpose and that bucket list you have will be more awesome and rewarding than you ever dreamed.

As the character Carter Chambers in the movie ‘The Bucket List’, asks:

“Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?”


By: Galeo Saintz - Conservation adventurer and global trails ambassador. Founding Chair of THE WORLD TRAILS NETWORK in Switzerland. Founder of the HI-TEC GARDEN ROUTE WALKING FESTIVAL, and instrumental foundering member of THE EDEN TO ADDO - Great Corridor Hike and THE RIM OF AFRICA- Cape Mountain Traverse.

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