A bucket list is way to make life meaningful by adding memorable moments. They often contain things that connect people to something larger, and personally important. You’ve heard of them, we’re sure.
So, what’s the problem? Isn’t it useful to have defined goals? Sure. But these lists seem to encourage a strange mix of highly individualised behaviour and conformity; a situation where everyone is hurtling, alone, towards the same goals. Makes sense. There’s a tonne of people who write stuff on their bucket lists like, ‘Join the Mile High Club’, or ‘Get a tattoo’, even if really, (and we mean really deep down) they could care less. It’s like there’s a list of stock, go-to bucket list cliches from which we can take our fill. Psychotherapist Philippa Perry even suggests that bucket lists might actually have been started as a brilliant PR stunt by ‘somebody who was selling swimming with dolphins.’ You could be onto something Phillippa.
‘There’s a consumerist, acquisitive vibe to many bucket lists, like writing a shopping list,’ she continues. ‘Instead of building on what you already have “to make a good life”, it’s really an attempt to fill an existential void’. This begs the question: do people write bucket lists because they panic? Are people scared that they’re going to get to the end of the road without anything to show for it? The remedy to that would surely be to live a fulfilling life every day, right? For a little inspiration, take a read of Chris Allen’s non-bucket list. This particular example is great at proving you don’t need a traditional bucket list to live a life that’s fun, meaningful, and makes a mark on the world. But even if you are fulfilled already, and you want to do something grander, there are still bucket list traps you can fall into.
A common phrase thrown around when we’re talking about bucket lists is, ‘Getting around to it.’ ; like, ‘I’d love to get around to hiking in the Himalayas’. We gloss over it when someone says this, but when you slow down for a moment, actually, ‘when I get around to it’ puts your aspirations way out ‘over there’ somewhere. It makes your goal or your grand vision a pipedream. There’s nothing executable about that trip to the mountains; it’s just words.
In order for these things to be actually doable, they need to be simple. They can still be challenging, but there needs to be some kind of plan in place. Like, don’t say, ‘One day I’d like to tour the world in a hot air balloon’. Instead, pick the place you’d like to hire or buy the balloon from, map out a route, book lessons or talk about the trip with someone who can already pilot the thing, and just do it. Why write it down on a piece of paper that you’ll probably stow in a drawer for years?
Whether you’re a bucket-lister with big ambitions or modest ones, get rid of that slip of paper. Yup, we mean it. Throw it, tear it apart, and say goodbye to the nasty habit of putting your dreams on hold.
A bucket list shouldn’t be about dying, but about living and making the most of the time you have. If it was purely about doing things before you die, and you knew with certainty that you would die tomorrow, what would you do right now? We’ll finish with a quote from one of our favourite travel writers, Jedidiah Jenkins:
Here’s how it always seems to go: your buddies dare you to jump. You don’t want to jump because it’s annoying to get cold and wet. They jump. They scream and laugh and shout and talk about how alive they feel and describe losing their breath and how insane it was. You didn’t jump. Ten minutes later, they’ve warmed up and you’re all the same temperature. The difference: they have a memory and an accomplishment, and you have your warm jacket and some burrs in your socks.
It is the same in these little moments as it is in the decisions that change our lives. Laziness masked as comfort is still laziness. And memories are the jewels in our crowns. How many things have I missed, and given my excuses all kinds of names, for what is nothing more than laziness. I’m not trying to over do some point here, or condemn myself. It was just a swimmin’ hole and a Wednesday afternoon. And I had a blast. I’m just saying I wish that I had jumped. And it’s important to surround yourself with jumpers.
Let us know your thoughts @Allett, or right here on the site.
Talk to you all soon,