Bucket lists are a popular topic among all age groups, but especially those in their 50’s, 60’s and beyond. There was even a popular movie titled The Bucket List, released in 2007, featuring seasoned actors Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman – who played two men with terminal illnesses – who wanted to cross items off their own bucket lists before they died.

Of course, you don’t need an illness to start a bucket list. Better to begin long before your own mortality is staring you in the face. Here are some reasons you might or might not want to start and pursue you own bucket list.

Bucket List Pros:

  • It’s highly motivational. Just ask someone who completed an item like hiking Machu Picchu or catching that awesome fish, or whatever it is that his or her heart desires. They can’t wait for the next adventure.
  • It’s pleasing. Your bucket list items should be fun and bring you joy and a feeling of satisfaction.
  • You will be following your own life plan instead of what others expect of you.
  • Most of your bucket list items will probably involve others. This gives you many more chances for creating meaningful connections.
  • Having important things to do can give you something to live for and actually extend your life.

Bucket List Cons:

  • You lose some of your flexibility and spontaneity when following a prescribed list.
  • You can become so focused on your bucket list, you forget to enjoy the experience. Remember, it should be about the journey more than the goal.
  • You may spend too much time or money out of a compulsion to complete your items.
  • If you load your list with irrational items, or take no action, this can be worse than never starting the list.
  • Even if you have a rational and achievable list, you may be disappointed if you fail to achieve some of the items on your list.

To speak to the last point, it is perfectly acceptable and to be expected, that you not complete all the items on your list. In fact, if the list is easily achievable, you probably haven’t tried hard enough.

There is a Common Misperception That Bucket lists are Only for Big Items

There is a common misperception that bucket lists are only for big items, but they are really for whatever you find meaningful. Here are the types of things that can go on bucket lists:

  • Places you want to see (e.g. Machu Picchu).
  • People you want to spend time with (your best friend from high school).
  • Physical goals you want to achieve (complete a half or full marathon).
  • Things you want to learn (speak a foreign language)
  • Habits you want to establish (meditate or establishing exercise routine).

I started my bucket list a dozen years ago and it is gratifying how many of the items my wife and I have completed. Here are just a few: learn to play guitar and perform in a band, take singing lessons, travel to interesting places like Russia, break 100 in golf, learn to play pickleball.

If you are looking for idea starters, try this article from developgoodhabits.com. They not only give you 553 potential bucket list items but also the following great advice for building your own list: “As you go through this list, be sure to write down the items that resonate with your “personal why.” Then add the ideas that sound like a great challenge. Then the stuff that’s fun. Then the ideas that you can share with your significant other. And finally, the ideas that will help with your self-improvement efforts.”

Remember that the bucket list is a positive endeavor – what you intend to do – and not about what you aren’t going to do. Not doing cool stuff is a common deathbed regret. And guess what my friend – you get to define what you consider cool stuff! This is a great privilege but can be wasted if you fail to write out and go make the items on your bucket list happen. What better time to start than right now?







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