The UN-Bucket List and Possibility Thinking!


Photography Business Un-Bucket List

I know, I know, this just might be the most boring title ever!

Well, here we are. The 4th of July has come and gone. We’re halfway through 2016. I have checked off many of my goals and list items that I created up to a year ago. There are many more to go. They are personal, business, family and financial goals. Some I met. Some I did not.

But wait – there’s more! (no, this isn’t an ad on late night TV for a pocket fisherman).

The bucket list. We’ve all heard about it. A list of things we wish to do before we die. “Climb Mount Everest, compete in a hot dog eating contest, lose 10 pounds, go on a TV game show, go to Mars, look for four leaf clovers in a field in Ireland”….

Your list is unique and reflects your wants and desires and interests. Movies have been made about the bucket list. I always liked the idea, but didn’t like the idea of...finishing the bucket list. You know, “all done, nothing left to see here folks, move along”.  I always want more to look forward to!

I read a long time ago that much of human happiness was looking forward to events and the anticipation and planning – whether it’s vacations, trips, visits from loved ones, running a marathon, starting a business, buying a home, having a family , going back to school. I also read that retirement sometimes is NOT a good idea – if it means “do nothing”, as the human psyche still needs the happiness and fulfillment of achievement, even if it’s simply picking some flowers and making a nice arrangement for the table that a loved one will enjoy.

We need a reason to get up, or soon, we won’t get up!

I started to think about my own bucket list but with a twist:

It’s my “UN-BUCKET” list. As soon as an item gets checked off, a new one gets added. Maybe it’s silly, but I just don’t want an empty bucket! I always want something to look forward to, for as long as I can!

Now, this is different from my daily business “to-do” list.  Sending portrait orders to the lab, or looking at  a new lens, or getting a new display set up are part of my daily business life. Necessary, but not long term dreams. If I am going to have a bucket/un-bucket list, I want a BIG bucket!

Possibility Thinking and the Overflowing Bucket List.

Alright, bear with me here. It’s time to get a little “out there” for a few minutes. Why? Because after being in business for thirty six years as a full time portrait and wedding photographer, I need to keep things fresh and creative and exciting – and that includes reminding myself of why I work so hard to have a successful photography business! Money alone is not enough! I need to know what my efforts can purchase me in terms of dreams and fulfillment!

So, with possibility thinking and my un-bucket list, I can dream BIG. I also can learn to change “yeah but” thinking into “What if” thinking.

“I Want To Visit Every Major League Baseball Stadium”.

“Wow, that’s a lot of travel. And time. And money. And planning. Yeah, I’d like to do it BUT….”

I could come up with a million reasons I cannot do this. However with possibility thinking and my jam packed un-bucket list, I can also make it happen. 

Ideas Without Execution Are Worthless.

If we really want something badly enough, we WILL find a way. Putting those most important things that are NON-photographic related into our un-bucket list, and then creating an action plan to make them happen is the only way to realize those dreams. Step by step, a little at a time, over weeks, months and maybe years, we can break those seemingly crazy dreams into small steps that make it possible.

What Keeps You Up At Night?

There are times I am awake at 3 a.m., and worrying about things, and often it’s things that I am afraid I will regret someday if I don’t do them with or for my loved ones or myself. It might be a little thing, such as making sure I block off time to go to my son’s baseball game or my daughter’s dance recital. It might be taking time to visit parents who are aging and only want one thing - some time with their adult children.

What keeps YOU up?

Let’s Dream A Little and Then – BAM! – put it into actionable steps!

So here I go – crazy, random acts of dreaming – I want to: learn to fly a small plane, learn Spanish, take swing dance lessons with my wife (and not trample her feet), build and launch a 6 foot model rocket, play my guitar onstage with Eric Clapton,  travel to Italy to trace my roots, travel to Ireland to trace my wife’s roots, drive a race car on a test track, sky dive (maybe…), be in a movie, even if it’s as an extra, help build a home for Habitat for Humanity, and I’m just getting started!  Unrealistic, maybe? Only for me to decide! Make your own list, and don’t let “yeah but” thinking get in your way!

What IF I DO EVERYTHING on my list?

This is the scariest for me. What if I simply reach the point where I say “I’ve done it all, I don’t have anything else to do…” THAT’s why I am constantly updating my bucket list. Seemingly impossible dreams come to pass, others fade as I realize I no longer care about them, and new ones fill the void. Let possibility thinking fill YOUR list and bucket to overflowing and keep refilling it.

A Good Life Lived.

In 2003, my Dad Louis was near the end of his life. He knew it, and we were told he had a week or so to live. I sat alone with him and asked “Dad, is there anything in your life you regret, that you didn’t get to do?” With his usual humor and a twinkle in his eye he said “well, there WAS this cute girl in college I didn’t ask out…” and we all laughed with him.  Then he smiled and said, “naw..actually, I did ask her out….she’s your Mom.”  My Dad’s bucket list was empty. He had done all that mattered to him, and he passed in his sleep a week later. But we were all so glad that he had taken a chance in his younger life, and he had possibility thinking and asked out the girl he didn’t think would go out with him. He turned a “yeah but” into a “What if?”, and I am here because of it. Thanks Dad.

Possibility Thinking and Un-Bucket List Filling 101

Stop focusing on the impossibilities, and change your focus if necessary. Stay away from the “experts” (critics), who are often well-meaning loved ones. Look for possibilities in every situation, especially problems and challenges. Dream one size bigger, don’t limit yourself! Always question the status quo – does this have to be the way it is? Lastly, find inspiration from great achievers – do not take advice from someone who isn’t where you want to be.

Now go start filling that list and dream BIG!

- Thomas Morelli












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