What’s on your After the CPA Board Exam Bucket List? When you think of a bucket list, you might think it applies only to things you want to do before you die. The idea that a bucket list is just a race against the clock degrades its value. Think about all that free time you’ll have once you’ve passed the exam and those hours aren’t required for studying. How do you want to spend those hours? Make a list of the things you want to do. Do you want to take golf lessons? Start a blog? Learn a foreign language? Travel to another continent? Read for pleasure instead of CPA board exam studies? Or just spend more time with friends and family? Think about it, but then do the next, very important step. Write it down. Don’t just keep the list in your head. Write it in your planner or type it out, print it and hang it over your desk, or start a Pinterest board. A study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University indicated that those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals. Those who not only wrote down their goals, but shared their goals and shared weekly progress reports with a friend accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals. That physical list will be a reminder of your WHY. We’re often so consumed by how to do something – how to have a better life, how to make more money, etc. that we lose sight of why we want these things. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why can endure any how.” Having a why defines our purpose and keeps you motivated to persist despite challenges that may get in the way. When you are sick of studying and feeling like you’ll never make it, review your list to re-energize yourself. Have you ever been so busy at life that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture? Your list will refresh your perspective. Research suggests that our brains use the neurotransmitter dopamine as an internal guidance system to reach goals. An study of rats showed that the dopamine signal in the brain gets stronger as the goal gets closer. Researched allowed rats to navigate mazes and the rats’ dopamine signals increased as the animals got closer to rewards. As the rats learned to navigate the maze, they were influenced to make choices to direct action toward the goal. The closer we get, the better we feel, the more likely we are to continue to make choices that will lead us to the goal. Your After the CPA Board Exam Bucket List is also your reward. You should reward yourself when you achieve a goal or milestone – you’ve worked hard and you deserve it! While external rewards have been shown to have little effect on motivation, research shows that self-rewards are responsible for three-quarters of personal motivation. Obviously the potential to get a bonus or promotion at work can be an external motivator, but who better than yourself to know what motivates you? So grab a pen and paper and start a list now. What do you want to do when you have more time? Pin some photos of the Eiffel tower or the Great Wall of China. Add those fancy marathon running shoes to your Amazon Wish List. Start making your After the CPA Board Exam Bucket list now. It’s the best way for you to keep motivated to reach your goals.