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Better Change: Beyond the Bucket List
James D. Feldman -- The NOWIST James D. Feldman -- The NOWIST
Chicago, IL
Thursday, January 15, 2009

A few weeks ago I delivered a speech about creating a bucket list.

For those of you that have not seen The Bucket List, do yourself a favor and rent it. The plot outline is that corporate billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and working class mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do, according to their bucket list, all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die. And ultimately find the joy in life.

This week, as a personal gift to myself, I spent a day driving exotic cars.

You know the 'boys toys' that we all read about?

Those luxury cars that are hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Those hot, American muscle cars that go 0-60 in mere seconds.

Those famous Italian super cars.

Those cars for which 'there is no substitute."

It was the first time in many, many, months that I did something for myself.

The only downer was when I connected with the office to find that the simplest of decisions were delayed, clients were demanding more of my time, and our other business issues continued in my absence.

As I drove the Ferrari and the Porsche Turbo, I found myself focusing on how to have fun...after forgetting how much of it I missed during the past few years.

As I squeezed inside of the Lotus, the Ford Shelby GT and the Viper, I realized that a few years ago I could have never fit. I could not stop smiling.

As I rode the "hot lap" with the professional driver, I thought, "What better way to leave this world"...driving 180 miles an hour, pushing the limits, and finding new ways to enjoy what this world has to offer if only we found the time, and had the money, to enjoy all of them.

As I waited for the green flag while driving the Corvette Z06 and the Lamborghini, I concentrated on the excitement that awaited at each corner, how to navigate the "cones" and push the car to its limits on the open straightaway, I realized that I was experiencing one of the coolest moments that any "car and driver" could share.

I saw that I could push myself beyond the expected.

I realized that with the weight loss and regaining of my health I had turned back the clock and had more time to enjoy life.

I understood that none of us know what fate holds in store for us, yet recent reminders forced me to reconsider what was on my "bucket list" that really didn't matter.

Recently a good friend lost his sister in a car accident.

Another suffered a stroke in a small town far away from her home.

And another, who experienced a flat on a super highway, was killed while changing the tire.

I hired myself to consult with myself.

"Why do I do what I do?" I asked.

I realized that...

I don't want to work for large companies because I wanted my freedom...

yet I am chained to the business.

I work for myself because working for a large company no longer provides security. Yet each day my security is threatened by clients, employees and suppliers.

I have to deal with bankers, regulators, government intervention and unreasonable demands on my talent and time.

It is now time for change. Better Change.

Shift Happens!

Yeah, I know.

Today I rethought my own life's expectancies.

Prior to the driving experience, I completed my bucket list...and I know I have to start over.

I will stop worrying and start living. I will stop being concerned about the survival of others that can survive for themselves and work to make life better for those that can't do it on their own. I will stop accepting unreasonable requests because my associates "got it off their desk and on to mine."

So I have started to ask myself, "What makes me happy?"

What would I do if I did not have to work?

Who would I spend time with if I had all the free time I needed to develop those relationships?

We will all leave this world sometime, and I don't plan on letting another day go by that I don't find time for myself...doing what I want to do...and enjoying life.

I am not going to let any employees hold me hostage with threats of leaving or making unreasonable demands.

I am not going to let my clients dictate when I have free time.

I am not going to let myself miss the next sunrise or sunset because of a conference call.

I am going to find ways to push myself, take new risks, learn new skills, and find ways to embrace life instead of regretting it.

I am going to focus on ME.

And that will make me a better partner, consultant, employer, client, friend and companion.

Just start calling me


And just in case I loose my focus or commitment I received this email to remind me.

Feel free to share it. Read it. Use it.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift... I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometimes despair over my body, the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging bottom. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror, but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less grey hair or a flatter tummy. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend.

I don't chide myself for eating that extra biscuit, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avant garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60's and 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love. I will.

I will walk along the beach in a swimsuit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning grey, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day. (If I feel like it).

No matter your age.

No matter your income.

No matter your education.

Create your own "Bucket List".

Throw away your "to do list" and create a "to be" list.
News Media Interview Contact
Name: James Feldman, CSP, PCS, CPT
Title: Professional Speaker
Group: Shift Happens
Dateline: Chicago, IL United States
Direct Phone: 312-527-9111
Cell Phone: 312-909-9700
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