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Why I Don’t Make Bucket Lists

Why I Don't Make Bucket Lists

A bucket list is a list of things that you want to do before you die. I once made bucket lists of all kinds. Travel bucket lists. Career bucket lists. Before I turn 30 lists. And then, after I came down with Lyme Disease, I realized that most of the things on my lists (especially the “before I turn 30” one) aren’t going to happen.

Not like you shouldn’t have ideas of what to do or have lists of things to see. I mean, Pinterest in an of itself is basically a list. Of course, I think everyone should have a good idea of what they want in their life. But limiting limiting your life to a “bucket list” is a bad idea in my opinion. 

Why I Don’t Make Bucket Lists:

You might end up holding out. Bucket list items will be your priority, and you might end up holding out for them instead of taking awesome opportunities. Great opportunities come around way more than once in a lifetime, like cheap tickets to Iceland or a chance to go camping with friends. You might be missing out on great experiences just to check something else off the list.

The term “bucket list” implies an ending. We all seem to think that ending is far off. You might end up putting a trip or a ride in a hot air balloon off because there’s “so much time”. Take it from me, there is NOT “so much time”. You never know when life will be stripped away from you, whether it’s the end of your life or the inability to partake in such things on your bucket list. 

You don’t want regrets. Just like the above said, your life can stop at any moment (whether because of sickness, and accident, a disease, or death). Nothing would be worse than sitting on your sickbed or deathbed regretting all the things you didn’t have a chance to do on your bucket list. If you take opportunities as they come and, alternatively, plan for something you really want to do, you’ll be less likely to have regrets. But if I wrote something down and didn’t end up doing it, I would just feel sorry for myself. A good benefit from not being tied to a bucket list would be the ease in looking back to see how much you’ve accomplished and how those accomplishments have blessed you.

A bucket list is a wishlist, not a plan. A bucket list is more like a wishlist – a dream of what you want to do. But to make it reality, you must plan. Try having goals and objectives (aka: a plan) for every year instead of a bucket list. Write your goals (what you want to do) and objectives for each goal (how you plan to achieve the goal). A bucket list doesn’t help you. It just reminds you what you haven’t done.

The term “bucket list” is a negative way of thinking. Bucket list is derived from the expression “kicking the bucket” which means death. Instead of listing things that you hope to do before you die, you can turn it around and live positively. Planning for the next couple of years shows that you are living life rather than wishing things might happen before you kick the bucket. By writing a bucket list, you’re thinking in terms of what limits us as human beings – the days we have before we die. Instead, think about the endless possibilities we have in this life. Even if it’s a short life, there are endless possibilities. 

Your life isn’t a checklist. Although to-do lists are sometimes helpful, it’s still disheartening when we don’t get everything on the to-do list done for the day. Just like your day should account for more than a list, so should your life, and even more so. Because it’s your LIFE. You might not have ever had “raise a family” or “buy a house” or even “eat healthier” on your bucket list, but that is definitely something to celebrate!

What should I do instead of bucket lists?

If you have an experience, a place you want to visit, or something you really want to accomplish, write out your goals and objectives to make that happen. Tacking a list to your mirror won’t help you, it will just remind you what you haven’t done yet, or what you’ve sacrificed to make those things happen. But goals and objectives are, by definition, blueprints to help you reach what you want to happen in your life.

Take it from me. I had to quit my job and couldn’t stay qualified with needed credentials in order to maybe do that job later, all because of my health. There were multiple other career paths that I tried and failed at because of my health. I have had to give up dreams of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and having kids, all because of my health.

But now that I don’t have a bucket list to remind me of my so-called failures, I can enjoy life and the opportunities that it gives me.

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46 Comments

  • Reply
    Sara
    February 16, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing the reasons behind why you don’t make bucket lists. I guess I never thought of a bucket list of having an end date – just more of an open ended wish list of this and that to do someday. My husband and I used to spend hours in the car driving to visit family. We bought a little notebook and would write in it things we’d like to do someday. I enjoyed that because I got to know more about his goals and desires. We still have the notebook and we still update it – it’s been fun to see what we add, what we accomplish and what we discard for one reason or another. I think, like you stated, it’s all about the perspective with which you make and keep these lists.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 16, 2015 at 11:39 pm

      Yes, I agree. And I think it’s wonderful what you and your husband do!! That’s not a typical bucket list at all to me. Sounds so great!

    • Reply
      Lauren Golden
      April 29, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      I’m with you Sara. My husband and I have kept a list throughout our marriage. We call it a bucket list, but check it frequently and make plans to accomplish it. I turn 30 in two weeks and without the list I would be so motivated to learn and try new things as I am right now. Goals, bucket lists…it’s a matter of semantics to me. It’s what you DO with it that matters.

      • Reply
        Bailey K.
        May 2, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        You’re completely right, it IS a matter of semantics. For me, “bucket list” implies an end. And for a lot of my friends who have bucket lists (or 30 before 30 lists, etc), they’re conveying how sad they are that they haven’t done those things on the list yet. That’s why I like goals and objectives (which equates to a PLAN to make that happen instead of just having a “wish” for it to happen). I’m SO glad that for you, you’re bucket list can be goals that you work towards in your life. Not many people look at things they want to accomplish or do and make a plan to do it, so I absolutely love that you are doing just that. 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth
    February 16, 2015 at 9:36 am

    As someone who also travels with similar health issues, I appreciate this outlook. Although, the part of me that suffers from OCD likes checking things off lists. What to do… 🙂

  • Reply
    Lies
    February 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    I like your perspective, and should maybe change my ‘bucket list’ to a ‘goals and objectives’ list. I do consider my bucket list as a goals list, but I do get your take on ‘bucket list’ being a negative term.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      That’s good that you think of your list as goals. I think it’s just all about perspective!

  • Reply
    Aileen
    February 15, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I think it really just depends per person on how they view a bucket list–for me, at least the essence is that they’re trying to make ways to do something or at least envision it 🙂 But great post nonetheless, it’s all about perspective I guess and to ensure that you have a positive attitude towards a goal.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      Yes, you’re very right. If you have the right perspective, that’s all you need to worry about! 🙂

  • Reply
    Dave Briggs
    February 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

    ‘Bucket List’ is one of my all time favourite phrases to hate, so I totally agree about not having one!! Much more important to enjoy life rather than to make lists of things to be ticked off.

  • Reply
    Alli
    February 15, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Absolutely agree with you on this one! I wrote a post myself about it a while ago . . . life really isn’t about being a checklist! And I also hate how it focuses on the end of life over life right now and being in the moment!!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      I completely agree! I’d like to read your post on it – I’m going to go search for it on your blog. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenna
    February 15, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Definitely agree with you–I’m a huge list maker, but I don’t like the idea of a bucket list either. The top places on my list are always changing, too, so it would get to be one messy list 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary
    February 14, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Not sure I agree! I think bucket lists in terms of goals is great. I make them all the time but have no expectations about them, its a way to keep organized and shoot for something. I also think more specification is a great thing to make a piority on a bucket list. I could list 10 things I want to do just at Angkor Wat for instance!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

      To me, you are explaining goals and objectives that I guess you probably title as a “bucket list”. Usually, bucket lists I see are just lists of things to do with no goals or objectives to make those things happen, and I don’t like that. But what you’re explaining is exactly how I do it – but I just call it my yearly or long-term goals and objectives! 🙂

  • Reply
    Anne Sutherland-Smith
    February 14, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Bailey, I totally agree with your thoughts about bucket lists. I much prefer to have a rough list of ideas of things that we might like to do, and we then set our goals and save to go on trips.

    We are really happy because we have just booked the flights for our next trip which is to Japan in September – we have been saving our money for a while so it seems a bit unreal that it will finally be coming true. We are already planning the next big trip to follow which we hope to be a USA road trip, but again it will take a lot of saving up to be able to afford the trip we want to do – but we will do it!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Congrats on the trip to Japan! It’s so exciting to save up and then finally be going. I hope it’s amazing for you! And I can recommend some amazing places in the US for a great road trip. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sophie
    February 14, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t really have a bucket list as such, more of a goals type of thing. Like this year I plan to see more of China and just be happier. I think it’s a better way to look at it rather than panicking that you haven’t ticked something off your list.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 12:57 am

      I think goals are wonderful. Have fun exploring more of China!

  • Reply
    Angelica @BkChickTravels
    February 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I think the same that bucket list implies an ending, I have an imaginary one in my mind but really what is not on my bucket list?

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 12:56 am

      Haha very true. I just want to go everywhere! 🙂

  • Reply
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru
    February 14, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I can totally understand your reasoning. I’m the type of person whose travel bucket list would include just about every place on the planet. Instead, we’ve opted for some pretty lofty general goals. As long as those are met, and it appears they will be, there’s something to look forward to. And I think, ultimately, that’s the purpose of a bucket list. Having a specific something to look forward to, or to make a plan from a dream. The follow-through is our responsibility. It’s important to me not to be the person who says she’s going to do something and then doesn’t.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 15, 2015 at 12:51 am

      I totally agree with you! But I’m also a pretty private person. So I won’t divulge plans unless they are basically already in place! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    February 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve never had a “bucket list” I learn about new places and experiences I’d like to try every day. I do what I can when I can. There’s no sense waiting because we just don’t know what tomorrow brings.

  • Reply
    Holly
    February 13, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I completely understand. I don’t like to put time limits on things either. Everything will happen in due time if it is for me. I have no made a bucket list per say, I call it a life list. As you said bucket signifies an ending. I am not trying to think about an ending haha.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Glad you can look at it that way! 🙂

  • Reply
    Elaine J. Masters
    February 13, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Informal bucket lister, I confess. It’s more like a rolling credit at the end of a movie with all the recurring destinations starring. No end in sight!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Haha, that’s how my Pinterest boards are! 😉

  • Reply
    Meg
    February 13, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Idk how I feel about this. I agree with many of your points but I guess in surprised that people look at bucket lists that way. I’ve always used mine as more of a reminder of things I want to do when I’m getting complacent. Very thought provoking post.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 13, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      That’s awesome that you can look at it that way! That’s why I titled it “Why I Don’t Make Bucket Lists” and not “Why You Shouldn’t Make Bucket Lists”. Because I knew there would be people like you that can totally see a bucket list as a positive thing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Megan
    February 12, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I really enjoyed this perspective. I have an unofficial bucket list but really like the idea of making sure it isn’t something that stops you from reaching out for other opportunities.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 12, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      I love that. You can look at the list as a just a list instead of a bucket list. 🙂

  • Reply
    GoodEnufMommy
    February 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    great post! I completely agree with you! I made a bucket list once and my hamster ate it! I took that as a sign!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 12, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Haha! That’s hilarious. It sounds like some lame reason for not turning in homework! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sarah Ebner
    February 12, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I’m really sorry to hear about your health issues, and think you’re talking such a lot of sense. I get the feeling that sometimes bucket lists take over people’s lives. Objectives are fine, but things always change – you never know what’s coming up.

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 12, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      Thank you so much, Sarah. And you’re so right. They did for me for a time. That’s why I got rid of them!

  • Reply
    lorrie
    February 12, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I don’t have a bucket list but I do have a list of places in my head that I would like to see. I’ve seen the south, the north, the west, the Atlantic ocean now id like to see the pacfic etc.and someday go overseas to Ireland

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 12, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      I think that’s a pretty healthy way to look at things. I hope you get to see the Pacific and go to Ireland some day!

  • Reply
    Muriel
    February 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

    I don’t like bucket lists either. I go with a year-long plan most of the time. We sit down in December and think about where and when we want to go and we plan it. I like plans of action. My friends know that they can say, “Hey, let’s go here.” because I will immediately go into planning mode and trying to buy plane tickets haha. I would rather visit places I want to go to and not because I have a list I must complete. That includes going back to favorite destinations. It’s all about experiences!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 12, 2015 at 10:19 am

      I completely agree and I’m pretty much the same as you when it comes to planning for travel. I’m a planner, definitely, but I love to go off the cuff sometimes, too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Casey
    February 12, 2015 at 8:58 am

    So funny… when I opened up this to read it, I seriously just wrote a similar post to go up in the next couple weeks on my blog! 🙂 Great minds thing alike. I’m with you… I don’t subscribe to the bucket list idea, there is too much in the world that just comes up and is incredible to worry about checking things off a list!

    • Reply
      Bailey K.
      February 12, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Haha! Oh wow, so funny. I can’t wait to read yours and see your perspective!

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