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What’s All This About Bucket Lists?

March 15, 2018

Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but never had time or someplace you’ve always wanted to travel but couldn’t afford? Those are perfect items for your personal “bucket list.” But what is a bucket list anyway? A bucket list is an inventory of all the things you want to achieve, try, or experience before you die.

Photo credit: goodluz/

Creating a bucket list helps you consider what you really want out of life. It puts perspective on what is truly important to you in order to live your life to the fullest. And it reminds all of us that life is short, and we don’t always have time to put off the things we want to accomplish or experience in this lifetime.

The term bucket list is a play on the idiom “to kick the bucket” meaning to die. Therefore, a bucket list is a list of things to accomplish before you die. According to Wiktionary, the term was first coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham for his screenplay of the 2007 film, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman. Zackham started with his own list titled “Justin’s List of Things to Do Before I Kick the Bucket,” which eventually got shortened to “Justin’s Bucket List.” One of the items on Zackham’s list was to have a screenplay produced by a major Hollywood studio. Inspiration struck when Zackham realized the idea of a pursuing a bucket list could be the plot of a movie. So, he wrote a screenplay about two terminally ill men on a road trip to accomplish all of the things they wanted to do before they kick the bucket.

While the film received mixed reviews, the idea of a bucket list caught on with the general public and the term has entered the lexicon of slang, including Urban Dictionary and

Create Your Own Bucket List

If you don’t have a bucket list already, now might be a good time to start one. After all, we don’t have forever! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Sit down and think about all the things you’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s to learn a foreign language, trace your genealogy, or become a black belt in karate. Once the list is started, every time you think, “I’ve always wanted to do that,” add it to the list!
  2. Think about all the places you’ve always wanted to see and where you’ve constantly had a desire to travel. Some people want to see the Great Pyramids or the Grand Canyon. Others want to travel to New Zealand or New Orleans. Travel, whether domestic or overseas, is a perfect addition to your bucket list.
  3. Get inspired by other bucket lists. There are many different types of bucket lists online, from travel lists, to general lists, to personal bucket lists. Read through a few and see what resonates with you.
  4. Create top ten lists of books, movies, record albums, etc. If you haven’t read them, seen them or listened to them, add them to your bucket list.
  5. Consider various facets of life, including career, family, food, hobbies, skills and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Maybe there’s a skill you’ve always wanted to try or a career you’ve thought about training for. Maybe there’s a class you’ve been dying to take or a dish you’ve been curious about cooking. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go skydiving or skiing. The possibilities are endless!

Get Started on Checking Things Off the List

Once you have your bucket list, don’t stop there. There is no better time than the present to get started with all those amazing life experiences – sign up for a class; book a trip; schedule a date with a new friend. You can publish your bucket list on social media and ask your online community to help you with accountability in accomplishing your list. Whether you publish it or keep it private, be sure to read through your list now and then to see what you can check off, what still needs to be accomplished or what you need to add. Most of all, have fun! The whole point of the bucket list is to get more enjoyment out of life, to add meaning to your life and to enrich your life. No small task, but as Hillel the Elder said, if not now, when?


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