Bucket lists. We’ve all heard of them, but how many of us have made one and how successful is it proving?
The dictionary definition of a bucket list is; ‘a list of the things you want to do before you reach a certain age, or before you die’. It comes from the phrase, ‘to kick the bucket’, which is a figure of speech meaning ‘to die’. Of course, that phrase came from death being caused by a bucket being kicked out from underneath someone with their head in a noose.
The term was also popularised by the film ‘The Bucket List’, which hit our screens back in 2007, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. If you’ve not seen it, it’s about a billionaire and a working class mechanic who, having both been diagnosed with a terminal illness, meet while sharing a hospital room together. They decide to leave the hospital and complete their bucket lists, rather than spending their last few months sitting in bed. The two become the best of friends during their travels and learn to appreciate all the small things in life that we so often overlook when we’re juggling the day to day.
When we make bucket lists, it’s almost like filling a bucket with lots of ideas of things we hope to get round to doing in our lives; all of our ambitions and wishes. And it’s not always just about completing them before we die. In lockdown, we’re sure lots of these types of lists were made. You only have to have a quick browse on the internet to find an array of ‘scratch off’ lockdown bucket lists, from baking banana bread (!) to learning a new language.
In fact there are many different types of bucket list; the Great British bucket list where you can tick off visiting all of Britain’s iconic locations, the golfers’ bucket list for teeing off at all the major courses across the UK and the foodie’s bucket list for all those amazing restaurants and markets.
Match.com conducted a survey on single Americans to find out what they had on their bucket lists. Here’s what they said:
- Fall in love – 83%
- Go on a wine tour in Napa Valley – 53%
- Change someone’s life for the better – 52%
- Get to my ideal weight – 47%
- Go on a safari – 45%
- Ride a hot air balloon – 45%
- See the Northern Lights – 45%
- Go to the Super Bowl – 43%
- Swim with dolphins – 39%
- Travel through Europe – 38%
While some of them are obviously more relevant to Americans, the Northern Lights, swimming with dolphins and hot air balloon rides are, we’re sure, very popular choices for many. But it’s also nice to see some money can’t buy experiences on there, including changing someone’s life for the better and falling in love.
So what are the benefits of creating a bucket list?
Just like in all areas of life, creating a list helps us to define our goals and work out how we’re going to achieve them!
Time is precious
The very words “bucket list” can put a bit of dread in some people because it makes us think of our own mortality and the limited time we have. On the flip side however, being aware of time can be a gift because we will undoubtedly push ourselves to make our dreams and goals a reality, sooner rather than later.
Bucket lists don’t have to be ‘before we die’ either. You could create your list in stages. For example, travel through Europe before you’re 50 and skydive before you’re 60!
Focus on your values
Your bucket list is just that, yours. When you’re writing your list, make sure it is full of things you want to do, not what others would expect to see on there or what would impress them. It can be quite refreshing to actually focus on what you want.
Having dreams in your head is one thing, but once you write them down you’ve taken your first step to making them happen. Start with some small ones and prove to yourself that they can happen; for example, to teach yourself how to knit from an online tutorial. We make lists and plan for everything in life – graduating, having a family, buying a house – the same theory can be applied.
Keep stress and burnout at bay
It is well known that life experiences can fuel the body as much as a healthy diet, education and love. By creating and working through your bucket list, you’re sure to get more out of life.
There are lots of tools online to help with your bucket list, or you can just reach for a pen and paper. However you go about it, have fun and good luck!