To Bucket List or Not?

Bucket Lists appear to be becoming more divisive in terms of how people view their value these days…

“I can’t think of anything to put on there.”

“I’ve got too much other stuff going on in my life at the moment so I don’t have time/money for crossing stuff off a bucket list.”

“The things I would put on there probably aren’t really inspiring/big compared to other people’s lists.”

…And I’ve heard many more reasons why they’re a waste of time, pointless etc. However I’d like to take this time to explain my perspective on bucket lists, maybe it might change your mind and start you writing one. Maybe you’ll think you were right and they aren’t for you. Either way, thanks for reading, and if you’ve got the time, let me know why or why not?

My feeling is that a lot of our initial reactions or assumptions around doing certain processes or tools are not necessarily how we feel about them long term having spent time actually looking into them. It’s simply a reflection of how we’re feeling in that moment and we hold onto that…for example:

If I’m at a point in my life where I don’t earn much money, I’m drained, and I’m also putting most of my time into taking care of other people. Then someone tells me during all that about how my life would be better with a bucket list, I’m probably going to fob that conversation off, because I’ve got bigger fish to fry at the time and I’m thinking the typical skydive, travel to another country, kind of bucketlist that feels a world away from where I am.

So even when it gets brought up again a year later and I’m in a better place and capable of doing things I’d have on my bucket list, I say that I don’t really believe in bucket lists…but I’m not sure why.

I’ve written a few over time, done a few items then thrown the list in the bin because in my eyes I wasn’t getting the items on there done quickly enough. The skill I’m (slowly) learning that is stopping me from throwing out my current list, is one of patience and learning to relax. Being content that I’ve been working on different milestones the past few years has helped to realize, while I’ve only done 4 items on my current list in the 3 or so years I’ve had it, I’ve been working on buying a house so that has taken priority, work wise, money wise, time wise. But now that I’m on the verge of that becoming a reality and cutting back at work, there’s time to open up the list again and look at what challenge I would like to spend time working on now.

There’s time…not today doesn’t mean never. Having a bucket list within reach means maybe you have 10 minutes spare, and that may not be enough to fly to Japan and taste the finest sushi ever made, but it’s enough to find the restaurant you want to go to, specifying details during your goals makes it real, makes your mind see it at as both achievable and something that you’re going to work towards, and gets you closer to actually doing it! Keep the bucket list, even if it’s taking longer to get around to doing some of those adventures than you thought it would.

One of the great things about bucket lists is they remind you of everything that is possible, at one point interesting to you, and something that on your deathbed could look back at and think “wow, I did that, that was awesome”. On our deathbeds, we very rarely regret things we did, it’s almost always the things we didn’t do that we knew we wanted to.

While the idea of a bucket list is to remind us of our own mortality, subsequently prompting us around the fact that we do have limited time on this planet and so to live the lives we really wish to, and do the things we dream of or say “one day” to, it’s also not to pressure us to just turn the things we would love to do into chores or obligations. Just another job to add to the never ending list of “fix the sprinkler, call the handyman to fix the washing machine, buy a present for so-and-so’s party who I don’t even like.” View it as possibility, view it as I get to do this, view it as I can choose what experiences I have in my life, view it as a gift. A positive over a negative.

If we view our list more as a collection of stories, “once I patted a raccoon, flew a plane, or helped change someone’s life for the better;” as a gathering of all the inexplicably fun, challenging things, big and small, that we GET to do!…rather than a shopping list of what has to happen, then we’ll view the bucket list as a source of inspiration and joy, a spark rather than just another obligation.

They are memories that we want to have. 

Writing them down is the first step to making them happen for real. 

Published by The Ethnosphere

Writer for The Ethnosphere, a universe in the making which is all about the ideas, failures, achievements, processes, goals, experiences, and everything which makes us human, adding to The Human Story.

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