What’s the Point in Writing a Bucket List?

Ten years ago I wrote a “life list” which I have kept in my wallet ever since. I have always loved lists and as the trend to create bucket lists had lead to a blockbuster film, I felt that writing out a list of things to do in my life was important. 

I didn’t like the term “bucket list” as it implies that you are trying things now only because of your possible impending demise, instead of doing things now because you are enjoying the moment. Instead, I called mine a “life list”.

Now ten years later, I have pulled this list out of my wallet and am surprised, shocked even, at how few items I can tick off. Especially considering how much I have done over the last ten years. Of the 40 items on the list, I can only tick off 8! That’s right 8!

My Bucket List Priorities Have Changed

I looked over it again and although there are a number of things on the list that I still want to do (if not all of them) some have shifted in priority or were too specific and are no longer relevant.

For example – doing a road trip from Broome to Uluru. I have been to Uluru but not yet Broome… do I count this as half a point? Or another, to spend New Years in New York, I have been to New York, and after battling the crowds on a boring Wednesday I have no desire to go back on one of the busiest days of the year… so do I just discard this one altogether?

Then there are other items that I have done that aren’t even on the list, such as climb a volcano; do an overnight hike; see one of the wonders of the world (natural, ancient and normal); island-hop through Croatia; learn how to make dumplings in Hong Kong; ski the Austrian Alps; watch baby turtles hatch on a beach; start a blog – just to name a few.

In seeing the disparity between the list I wrote when I was 21 versus the list I have achieved, I asked myself was there any point in writing a life/bucket list?

Looking again at the list sitting in front of me, and I feel disheartened by how much I HAVEN’T done. Because I can’t mark off on a piece of paper the amazing things I have done, I almost feel as though they aren’t valid. Have I been wasting my time doing things that weren’t my original plan or desire?  Of course, that is ludicrous, because who regrets watching baby turtles hatch on a beach. No one.

I am also looking at it and thinking, there are so many other things I want to do that aren’t on there. The person I have grown to be through experiences and adventure has very different aspirations to the 21-year-old who wrote this list. I wrote a post a while ago about how different Europe was from when I was 18 on my first visit to when I was 28. What had changed was me. Looking at this list, all I can see is how much I have changed and grown. Owning my own library seems a little silly now, especially as I prefer a minimalist lifestyle these days. And I am sure driving a Porsche would be cool… but is it worthy of a precious spot in my top 40 things to do with the rest of my life? Nope!

Why Am I Keeping My Bucket List/Life List?

And yet, I can’t bring myself to throw it away. It tugs at my heartstrings and brings me back in touch with those larger than life dreams that you have when you are 21. I can’t help but think that I should put it back in my wallet for another ten years to see if I can finally see emperor penguins in Antarctica or buy a house (not likely as I am based in Sydney). I feel a yearning to reconnect with my younger self, apparently, at 21 I thought I could conquer my fear of heights and go paragliding – I can barely walk across a bridge without my legs going wobbly. Partying in Greece would be fun… except I don’t like clubbing, I am pretty sure I didn’t enjoy it at 21 when I wrote this list. As for learning how to surf, no way – I am way too old to learn now, I should have done that as a teenager.

That is when it hits me. My problem with this list is that I am looking at it and thinking of all of the things I can no longer do. Or shouldn’t do. Or wouldn’t do. My 21-year-old self wrote this list full of promise and excitement of her life ahead. At the age of 31, I am already looking at it and thinking about what I won’t do

Which is just plain stupid. I am 31, not 91… and I am sure that my 91-year-old grandfather would tell me to stop being a wuss and book a ticket to Greece already!

One of the things I love most about travel is that it gives you an amazing opportunity to try things that you can’t or wouldn’t normally do. When I travel I try and step outside of my comfort zone as much as possible. Every time I do, I change and grow. Sometimes I become strong, and other times I learn to fear. But every experience has taught me something that I wouldn’t change for anything.

I am going to keep the list, I think it needs to stay as a reminder of the promise of adventure. However, I am also going to write a new list. A list based on what I have learnt and experienced. I am not going to double up though, so walking the great wall of China will stay on the old one, which will sit right next to the new one.

When I open them up when I am 41, hopefully, I will be able to tick off more than 8 items. Then again, who cares if I can’t!



What\'s the Point in Writing a Bucket List?

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