Why I Hate Bucket Lists

I  celebrated my 40th birthday in March of this year so I have been thinking about the future a little bit lately.  I've told this story before but I am going to tell it again.

When I worked in staffing I had a client who had worked as a Human Resources Director for many, many years. She had finally decided to retire, along with her husband. They bought an RV and made plans to travel the country to visit family and finally enjoy their life together.

She left her company, had a big retirement party, and never had to worry about work again.

Just a few short weeks later her husband passed away unexpectedly.

I can only imagine how this affected her. She was a client, not a friend, so I never got to have a heart to heart conversation with her about her feelings. I know that it affected me a great deal and I didn't even know her husband.

During that time, Matt and I were already building our tiny house. I was getting closer and closer to quitting my job. This story just cemented in my mind that I needed to do something now, not later.

Waiting for "retirement" to live may not be a viable answer for everybody. It may not be a viable answer for anybody. There is simply no way of knowing what lies ahead for any of us. I couldn't put off my desire to live more deliberately. I couldn't continue doing what I was doing even though I was comfortable, paid well, and pretty good at it. I wanted to experience life, not just survive it.

And this is why I hate "Bucket Lists."

I'm not entirely sure when the idea of a bucket list became poplar. One day there was a movie and the next thing I knew everyone was talking about their bucket list. I'm guessing we always had these notions as a culture but no shared name for it. They were just the things we wanted to do before we died.

The problem isn't in having the desire to do these things but the idea that we can put them off until some later date. That we have to reach a certain milestone before we can start living our lives.

There have been a lot of things that I wanted to make sure I did in my lifetime. Some small, some big. As soon a I thought up a new one I would consider how much of my life it would cost me to do it. Not money, life.

If I traded a certain number of hours of my life in exchange for money I could afford to do this thing. Could I afford to lose those hours?

The very idea of a Bucket List gives us an excuse to write our hopes and dreams down on a piece of paper and hold on to it tightly until we determine we are at an age or a level of success where we can actually do them.

What if, instead, we lived every day deliberately and did all the things we want to do when we want to do them?

Sure, I understand that some things cost money. I did trade 15 years of my life in a job with the goal of saving enough money to do the things I wanted to do. Eventually I needed to figure out an alternate way to make these thing happen or I was going to continue slowly withering away inside. I know not everyone hates their 9-5 job and I I'm happy for people when they do, but I talk to enough people who eventually admit to me that their job leaves them feel empty and unfulfilled. It feels like an epidemic that most people aren't willing to acknowledge.

My client put off her life in exchange for security. When she finally felt secure enough to leave her career, it was literally too late. This is not the future I want for myself.

What things do you want to accomplish? How do you want to live? 


  1. Bucket lists are for young people. Once you get to a certain age you realize how worthless bucket lists are. Instead I have a different type of list. I call it my "First" list. I write down anything I experience for the first time. It's amazing how many firsts you can still have even when you are retired. It can be something simple like going to a certain place for the first time or having a pedicure or whatever it is that you've never done before. I love seeing all those things on my list, it makes me feel younger.

    1. What a great idea....I am 63 and I still have a lot of firsts because now I can...but now I. too, will write them down...I also art journal..great pages!! Thanks

  2. Yep, I hate them too. I will be burying my husband tomorrow. We have each lived our lives like there was no tomorrow and with no regrets. If we wanted to do something bad enough, we did it. The only regret he might have had by dying this week was no living long enough to see all of our grandchildren as adults. But then again, that's life.

  3. I feel the same way about bucket lists. They are usually filled with the silly things of life, not stuff that is important and has meaning. It took me almost 60 years to figure that out. Good for you in reaching that understanding much earlier in your own life.

  4. I agree with you. Our lives changed when my Hubby was diagnosed with a life threatening illness. He has been on dialysis for 3 years now. We are in our late 30s and want nothing more than a small cabin in the woods. We sadly can't go without running water and indoor plumbing because of my Hubby's medical needs, but we are working hard to have that tiny cabin and time for each other and adventures and just living each day before time runs out.

    You do a beautiful job expressing yourself in your blog posts, I have read a few since finding your blog tonight.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you've enjoyed my blog. Best of luck on your continued journey toward that cabin in the woods.


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