Why Create a Bucket List?

I thought I might add a bit more detail about why I created a “bucket list” almost 20 years ago.

When I turned 30, my wife threw a surprise birthday party for me, which was a big deal as the two of us are about as unsentimental as a couple can get (we didn’t even have a camera until our kids were born – 14 years after we married).  I hadn’t thought about my age for almost ten years.  I was suddenly doing a lot of thinking – and was instantly depressed.  My generation didn’t trust anyone over 30 and I had just become untrustworthy.  As a matter of fact, all I could think of was that my life was all but over (I had strange thoughts about mortality at 30) and I had nothing to show for it.  I felt that I had made no real impact on the world and that I was not living up to my potential.

I languished in this semi-depression for almost a year before I decided to do something about it.  This is when I created what we today call a “bucket list”.  My list consisted of fifty things I wanted to accomplish before I died.  Fast-forward almost twenty years and I find myself with an almost completed list (two items left).  I guess it’s time to either make a new list or die (I’m thinking I’ll go with the first).

Although I won’t bore you with my first list, my categories were:

1. Self-improvement

2. Investment in others

3. Family

4. Travel

5. Professional life

I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve met some of these goals and, although I included a section on self-improvement, I now wish I had paid closer attention to who I wanted to be rather than what I wanted to accomplish.  However, I feel I am getting closer to the person I should be and want to be in spite of myself.  All in all, it’s been an enjoyable journey – and much more satisfying than just wandering through life.


6 responses to “Why Create a Bucket List?

  1. Don, this is very inspiring. As someone heading toward 37, I should jump on your band wagon. I feel that for the most part I still just sort of stumble through my life. It’s fleeting and the only shot I’ve got. I’m going to take your advice and start my bucket list. Thanks for sharing about this!

  2. Don, being that I just turned 36, I’ve been languishing in my own fears and depression over having accomplished nothing thus far.

    I’d like to do a Bucket List…but I’m afraid to! It sounds silly, but I think I would look at it and say, “I can never do these things!”…maybe I’m just not ready for it.


    How about instead of thinking of goals or a “bucket list,” you think of things you would like to accomplish (like take a class on) or places you would like to visit, or something you would like to do to better yourself (like learn a language – or at least a few vocabulary words or phrases). Maybe you could list some things that are important to you, then envision who you would like to be in 3-5 years, then think of what you need to do to get there – then do it! I hope that helps.

  3. Actually it does help! Especially the 3-5 year time frame. Part of what scared me about the Bucket List was the idea of it being a To Do list before I die. Hee.

    And, there are things I want to do, like take photography and art classes. Those could go on my list!

    Great. Like I said, if I had it to do over (which I guess I do now), I would think more in the 3-5 year timeframe and think of who I want to become rather than compile a checklist of stuff to do.

  4. Thanks, Don, for visiting my post. I’ve replied to your comment with a question that interests me:

    By the way, I for one would be interested in seeing some of the items on your list. The categories are great.

    Thank you. I have been revealing some of them through various posts on this blog. My original goal was to get some of these thoughts on paper (for my kids), but kept stutter starting. I am finding that when I think people might read them, I’m more focused and motivated. Thanks for reading and motivating me.

  5. Don, as a newcomer to the “bucket list” business I really like your categories and your take on who you want to be!

    I’ve never thought of creating a bucket list before, because kicking the bucket was the farthest thing in my mind. We all know it’s going to end someday, but once you’re told your sell by date, I guess you really need something to guide you and to be able to tick off. Seems to work for me now, though I think the list is by no means static.

    Welcome. Yes, by no means static… I created my list so long ago and yet have realized that I’ve made and completed several shorter lists over the years. I can’t imagine a sadder life than one reduced to simply checking off a list. Thanks for your comment.

  6. While I’m not a concrete list person (I have more of an idea in my head), I still have a firm idea of WHO I want to be. This subject came up in my book group while discussing East of Eden by Steinbeck, because one of the characters, in talking about something, says This is who I am and what I am about. Everyone in the book group agreed that they couldn’t say who they are and what they are about…and I was shocked because I have a definite idea of who I am and what I am about. Perhaps if I had decided long ago that being rich was part of that, then I’d have more money now. 😉

    I’m with you. I had a good idea of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do and have pretty much done it (to this point). Now, I get to begin again with the next phase of my life. I agree on the rich part – I should have thought of that earlier. Actually, much of the comedy in my life comes right after I say I won’t do something or won’t live somewhere… I generally find myself doing it or living there within a year. Right now I am committed to NEVER living in Hawaii and NEVER being independently wealthy (I’ve been trying this for 15 years with no success…yet).

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