3 Reasons Why Bucket Lists AREN'T Morbid

As the owner, writer, and editor of a Travel Bucket List blog for nearly a decade, recently branching out into the exciting and dually frustrating world of running a YouTube channel, I have had many conversations about the nature of bucket lists.

Many people are excited that I have a travel bucket list and typically ask me questions such as, "What's on it?" or "How long is it?"

But there have been a handful of people that I've encountered personally, let alone seen comment online, who disagree with the notion of a bucket list. Some are even quite passionate that bucket lists are simply WRONG and the people who write them are pathetic. Yes, that's a comment that once was thrown casually in my direction.

Naturally, everyone is entitled to their opinion. And if you are someone who thinks bucket lists are a waste of time, that's completely fine with me. No one is forcing you to write one. But I love my bucket list - I actually have TWO; the one for travel that you see on this blog, and one for everyday life goals such as paying off my house mortgage.

Allow me the luxury of defending myself against some of the arguments that have been put forth against bucket lists and their use in people's lives.

I adore my bucket list and refer back to it all the time. Image via.

#1. Bucket Lists are Morbid

This is a common complaint that I have heard about those who choose to write out and follow a bucket list. And yes, I won't disagree that the term 'bucket list' itself IS a morbid moniker. For those of you unaware, a 'bucket list' is a list of things to see, do, learn or experience before one 'kicks the bucket' and passes away.

To pre-plan a list of activities that one would like to accomplish before one's death does sound a bit depressing. There are some people who don't even put pen to paper until death is staring them imminently in the face: a terminal diagnosis or a severe health scare might be the nudge some people need to start thinking about what they'd like to do with their remaining time on this Earth. And yes, that is somewhat dark and dismal.

But not all people wait until a major life event occurs to begin writing a bucket list. I had mine mapped out years ago. In my first year of teaching junior high English class, the kids and I spent an afternoon reading about a man with an incredible bucket list; milking a snake was one of the items, and he'd managed to check it off. Inspired by his list, the kids and I began to create ones for ourselves. (It was thyroid cancer that encouraged me to begin this blog and actually publicly publish my list in the hopes I'd be inspired to try and complete it).

I disagree that bucket lists themselves are morbid. Yes, maybe they could have a better name. But the idea that you have thought deeply about what you are passionate about, what you want to achieve with your time, and what you want to learn or do to better yourself and enrich your life - that's not morbid. I find that truly inspiring! There is nothing wrong with having multiple goals and milestones that you want to experience.

Don't be afraid to write down your goals. A bucket list can inspire you! Image via.

#2. Bucket Lists are just Empty Dreams

Someone once groused to me, "Great. A list that just maps out all of the things in life I'll never do." I didn't even have a reply for that person.

What a horribly depressing way to approach life!

My bucket list is ridiculously long. I'm well aware of that. I think the only way I'll ever get to check off everything on my list is if I win three lotteries in a row and live to age 137. But that's okay. I don't look at my list and get mopey and sad thinking about how impossible it will be to achieve everything I've jotted down. I don't look at my list as a reminder of my piddly little bank account and the fact that I'm already somehow pushing 40. (Writing this blog post is what reminded me of that. Sigh.)

When I see my bucket list, I instead get excited. It is a list of possibilities. Nothing in this life is certain or guaranteed so I can't say for certain which items I'll get to tick off in the future, and which ones I'll end up missing out on. But my list gets me excited for life, and prompts me to go out and research and learn about this wide, wonderful world of ours.

My husband and I watched a documentary on Iceland back in 2002. It showed a foreign, exotic and alien landscape, a tiny dot in the ocean where, back then, not many people travelled to. I added it to my bucket list because it was such a cool destination, not really expecting to ever check item off. Fast forward to 2013 and there we were, camping and hiking and road tripping our way through Iceland on an epic journey.

Add whatever you want to your bucket list. Who cares if it happens for certain or not? We don't get everything we want in life - life lesson there for you - but are allowed to dream and hope and maybe, just maybe, we'll have some of those dreams realized. You shouldn't have to limit yourself, though.

Where do you want to go? Write it down and learn about it, even if you don't go there. Image via.

#3. Bucket Lists are Too Braggy

Switching gears a bit from the idea that bucket lists are showcases for unfinished business, I've also heard the complaint that people who have bucket lists use them to flash about their accomplishments. So... you can't win either way?

I guess I could just erase / delete each bucket item from my list as I check them off. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower? Delete. Delete. Delete. Then no one will think I'm bragging about it. Wouldn't want to upset someone who has not yet had the chance to be there.

But please. That is a ludicrous idea. People have got to stop taking themselves so seriously. If everyone had to downplay their accomplishments to the point where we pretend they never even happened, this world would be so dreary. Instead of being jealous of others' successes, trips, and achievements, let's celebrate them! Ask questions and learn from them! Be inspired by them!

A completed bucket list would be a truly amazing thing to see, in my humble opinion. If I saw someone who had led such a full and wonderful life as to tick off each and every item from their list, I'd be amazing and inspired. I certainly wouldn't accuse that person of being a show-off and using their life story to make me feel like I was less-than-worthy.

Hopefully I have defended my beloved bucket list adequately. Ideally, I have inspired you write one of your own! It doesn't have to be gung-ho crazy like mine with over 160 items (I'm at 163 at this moment, probably with more on the way). You can start with 10 things you'd like to do, see, or learn. Build from there. Be proud of your journey and look back at your completed items with fond memories. Be excited for the journey to come.

After all, everyone must kick the bucket. Make sure your bucket was full of good things.

Who else has a bucket list? I've started a collaboration project on YouTube with other like-minded, goal-oriented people to see what they've got waiting on their bucket lists. Watch the video below for the first instalment.

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