Walking along the Great Wall of China. Diving with sharks. Visiting Antarctica.
Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, most people have a few things in mind that they’d like to do before they die. Many people call this a bucket list, and many others rail against the idea of having a list of things to see and do in this lifetime.
The reasoning for anti-bucket list folks generally goes something like this: Travel isn’t supposed to be about how many countries you go to or a checklist of things to knock off before the buzzer on life goes off. I get it. There is something to be said for letting experiences just happen to you when you travel. Unexpected surprises on the road may be the highlights of a trip, but there’s also something to be said for having goals when you travel.
Just as there are good reasons to stay on the beaten path, it is perfectly legitimate to have a bucket list. I’ve got one, and I’m willing to bet that, even if you’ve never written it down, there are a few things you’d like to achieve on your travels.
That’s okay because having a bucket list doesn’t make you a bad traveler.
First, time is limited and I can’t do it all. Let’s call life what it is: Limited. As such, there are certain things I’d like to see or do more than others, and that’s okay. The vast majority of people will never travel to every country in the world, so when you’re given a choice between Destination A or Destination B, it only makes sense to choose the one that’s most aligned with your goals or interests in life.
Secondly, it gives me a place to collect ideas that inspire me. Again, your bucket head may be in your head or scribbled across numerous sheets of paper or tucked into the back page of your journal. Your style is up to you. But when I need motivation and inspiration, I look at my Life List to figure out what I need to do to meet the goals I have in life.
Finally, it reminds me that I have done—and can continue to do—great things in life. Because I make my Life List public, I occasionally have people contact me about something I’ve done because they’d like to do the same thing or recommend how I can achieve one of my goals. Friends and family frequently comment on my Life List, usually by noting that they’re so impressed by so many things I’ve done that most people will never do. I certainly don’t think I lead a charmed life, but being reminded of how fortunate I’ve been encourages me to reach for the other seemingly impossible goals in my life.
I want to take a quick moment to point out one of the distinguishing features of my Life List versus the generally defined bucket lists. It seems that most bucket lists are specifically focused on travel. My Life List is a mixture of travel, professional and general life goals, which I think helps maintain balance in my day-to-day living. By focusing too much on one area, it’s easy for me to forget to focus any energy at all in another direction. And, even though I only officially put my Life List down in writing a little more than a year ago, I’ve successfully crossed nine things off, including participating in the Urban Adventure Games and visiting Iceland.
Here are a few of my Life List favorites that I have yet to achieve, some travel related and some not:
> Be part of a flash mob.
> Be on The Amazing Race.
> Hike the John Muir Trail.
> Participate in a sea turtle rescue effort.
> Buy someone’s first passport.
> Bike around Ireland.
I’d love to know: Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the goals you’re set for yourself?