Call it what ever you like, to do list, list of goals, bucket list, you should have one; the longer and more outrageous the better.
Here are some reason why:
1) They provide touch points in our lives. Achieved goals and checked off items on a bucket list help to fill our lives with experiences worth remembering. No matter who you are or what you do, the human condition requires that much of our time is spent on daily routines. Hopefully our routine activities are pleasant ones but still they will not stand out in the pattern of our days.
2) They add deeper meaning to our lives. Certainly their is meaning in our everyday lives. We wake up and go to our jobs, raise our children, visit with our friends and family, take care of our homes. There is purpose and meaning in these activities. But we miss so many rich experiences if we never step out of our routines.
3) They require us to examine who we are and who we would like to become. As a child I used to imagine being a grown up was easy and I guess boring. Once you finished school you got married, had children, went to work and that was pretty much your life until you retired then maybe if you were lucky your life got interesting again. As an adult I realize all the many flaws in my childish assumption but I am aware that while my assumption was over simplified it also contained some grains of truth. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we have to "grow up" and often that seems to mean putting away our dreams and doing what we "should be doing". (ie: finding a good paying job, buying a house, driving a nice car.) Kudos to those of you who never fell into that trap and figured out early on that what you should be doing was making your dreams come true. If driving the nicest car on the block was one of your dreams then more power to you. But if driving the nicest car on the block isn't making you feel great then it is time to ask yourself what would.
4) They require us to live in the present. We have all heard the quote, "stop and smell the roses," and I am sure that we have all attempted to live up to this saying. The trouble is that it is hard to live in the present. We have a lot on our minds. We worry, we plan, we dream, we hope, we think about the past and the future. Our bodies are in the present but our minds are often elsewhere. Doing something that is new, challenging or exciting to us helps to pull our minds into the present moment and actually experience the joy of right now.
5) They provide an example for others. Is there anyone who doesn't appreciate hearing about the worlds oldest bungee jumper, how a single mom has a successful home business or how a double amputee runs their first marathon? We need their stories. They help to inspire us to reach for our own dreams and goals. They show us what we thought to be impossible is actually within our reach.
6) They make us more interesting at cocktail parties! Ok I am being a little silly here but the more different kinds of experiences one has the broader their range of potential connecting points with others. For example I recently hiked my first 14er. Both before and after the hike I found myself engaged in several conversation with many different people. Had I not planned to have this new experience none of those conversations would ever have happened.