Finish the List Before Kicking the Bucket!!!!

Have you ever sat down and written a list of everything you want to accomplish in life? Many people today have made this so-called “Bucket List” as a way to set their goals for the future. The list can range from traveling around the world to doing a random act of kindness. Bucket lists have always been a popular thing, but when the movie The Bucket List, staring Morgan Freedman and Jack Nicholson, was released bucket lists gained a lot of publicity.Bucket lists may seem like a very ingenious way to keep every wish together; however, when you finally finish something on your list is it more about checking off the box and moving on or is it about the overall experience? As The New Yorker says “Dropping by Stonehenge for ten minutes and then announcing you’ve crossed it off your bucket list suggests that seeing Stonehenge—or beholding the Taj Mahal, or visiting the Louvre, or observing a pride of lions slumbering under a tree in the Maasai Mara—is something that, having been done, can be considered done with.”

My family and I repelling down a waterfall in Puerto Rico.

My family and I rappelling down a waterfall in Puerto Rico.

Traveling should be about the experiences. When traveling you should take time to learn about a culture and participate in everything that there is to experience because you may only get this one chance. Experienced traveler and blogger Amy describes travel not as an escape from the world but as a way to connect with the world and better yourself. “It irks me to hell when people just want to visit a place for a check mark off their bucket list,” Amy adds. She claims that traveling should involve learning about new cultures and make new experiences. Additionally traveling blog duo, Nick and Margherita Ragg, who run The Crowded Planet, agree with Amy. Them and several other believe that bucket lists leave the traveler with a greater joy of just checking off boxes than actually traveling.

Record places you've been and the experiences you've had there, don't just focus on all the things you haven't done.

Record places you’ve been and the experiences you’ve had there, don’t just focus on all the things you haven’t done.

Another reason many travelers don’t like bucket lists is because they think that it leads people to focus too much on things that they haven’t done according to Talon Windwalker. He argues that when people look at a bucket list with not a lot of things checked off it makes them forget about the magnificent journey that they have already accomplished and distracts them from the wonderful things they are doing in the present. The list stats to become more of a reminder of everything you could never get around to accomplishing instead of a way to remember all the magnificent journeys you’ve been on.

Bucket lists are full of activities that Johann Huizinga would consider games based on his book Homo Ludens. From climbing to repelling and ziplining to sky diving. These different activities are voluntary and governed by a specific time and space. They are also done for ones own person experience and spiritual gain. People travel around the world and to different destinations because they want to experience something completely different from their mundane lives. There is no rationality to jumping out of a perfectly good plane or getting into a paint fight, but it is some people’s dreams to do those things. They are fun distractions from everyday worries that can lead to a spiritual growth.

Bucket lists take away from these experiences by making there be a reason behind them. It is now about putting a check in a box to finish something and move on. They are no longer autotelic because they now have an extrinsic motivation. The bucket list is simply something people try to finish as a way to say that they’ve done it before they die. It is not completely about the experience anymore but more focused on leaving no thing on the list undone.

Reverse bucket lists are the new fad for travelers. Amanda Kendle, runner of I’m not a Ballerina, created her reverse bucket list that instead of stating everything that she still hasn’t accomplished, it focuses on the places she has gone and the wonderful things she did in her travels. This allows her adventures to be merely about enjoying life and doing things she loves instead of worrying about checking boxes off a list.

Just relax and enjoy the moment!

Just relax and enjoy the moment!


One comment

  1. mkweihs · October 5, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post and I can relate well to it. Having a book at home called “10,000 places to see before you die”, I can also understand the pressure that bucket lists create. There exist so many amazing places on our earth, that one life is sometimes to short to explore them all. To me, the connection between bucket lists and games seems also very interesting and reminds me of a card game called “Phase 10” in which you have to complete the different levels on your instruction card. In my opinion, bucket lists might been seen as a “real life” version of it. Therefore, I disagree to a certain extent to your argument that the nature of “Bucket List” removes the playful aspect of game as they can be interpreted as a game consisting of different levels that have to be reached, e.g. visit the Taj-Mahal etc. Therefore, the Bucket lists, as you have explained in a very illustrative way, lie the focus on just completing a point of a to-do list rather than on enjoying and making the most of the present moment. Thank you for sharing the detailed information and the numerous examples and citations!


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