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What is a Bucket List and What are Its Benefits?

Updated on November 25, 2013

What is a bucket list?

A bucket list, most simply put, is a list of things that you wish to do before you die. While there is no clear documentation for the origin of the phrase itself, it is widely accepted that the "bucket list" was in reference to another well-known phrase "to kick the bucket" (meaning to die).

25 Crazy things to Add to your Bucket List

What are the benefits of a bucket list?

You might think it sounds a little morbid to be contemplating a list of everything that you want to do before you die. But there actually are many benefits to creating such a list.Here are just a few.

Creating a physical wish list helps you to realize what is important to you: We all have lots of dreams and desires, but when you are asked to summarize those dreams and encapsulate them in a written list, it helps you to see what is really important to you. It isn't as easy as you might think, but it will be worth it. There is something very empowering about knowing what you want.

Seeing your wishes or goals on paper makes them feel more real, more attainable:
There is just something about putting your dreams and goals down on paper that makes them seem so much more real. Seeing the items on the list helps you to focus.Your goal doesn't feel so abstract. You can start to develop specific plans of action for achieving the goals on your bucket list. You can come up with a plan of attack and takes steps towards actually accomplishing your goals.

You learn something new about yourself: You might not even realize that you want something until you see the pattern penned by your own hand. For example, when you are staring down at the list and see 10 countries and 20 beaches that you want to visit before you die, you might conclude you should be working in the travel industry.Or you notice that the first 5 items on your list all include your family and things you want to do with them. Perhaps you need to start spending more time with your family? Maybe the items on your list will help you to see that you need to further your education or begin an exercise program. Just take a moment to review your list and maybe you'll learn something about yourself that you never knew before.

You begin to wish for more things than ever before: One idea might give way to another idea and then another. Each item on the list sparking more ideas, more goals, more wishes. You might have "run a 5K marathon" on your list. After you complete that goal, you decide to add "run a marathon" or "participate in a triathlon." The sky is the limit. Or is it? Maybe you will dare to add "travel to the moon" on your list, and now that you know you can accomplish what you set out to do...you just might make it there.

No list is ever complete: Why is this a benefit you might ask? You might be able to cross items off the list, but you continually add new goals. And of course, you aren't allowed to die without completing the list. That means a huge benefit is prolonged longevity! Okay, there is no scientific proof that making a bucket list will help you to live longer....but it definitely can't hurt.


Other types of Bucket Lists

It might be too overwhelming to try to write a list of all the places you want to go, things you want to do, and goals you want to accomplish before you die. With any luck, that could be 50-60 years from now! So instead of the traditional bucket list, people have come up with many alternative lists that might seem a bit more manageable.

Some examples of these alternative lists might include: "Vacations I want to go on with my Family", "Goals I want to accomplish before I turn Fifty", or "Foods I want to eat while I still have my own teeth." The possibilities and versions are endless. And you can have multiple lists that you are maintaining simultaneously. Some people have bucket lists with short-term and long-term goals. Some have private and shared lists.

No matter what type of bucket list you have created please do not forget the Golden Rule of Bucket Lists. YOU MUST WRITE THEM DOWN. Keeping the list in your head just isn't the same.

If you want to share any of your bucket lists, please feel free to leave a comment.

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    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      I think and feel that everyone should have a bucket list. mostly, I feel like people should do that bucket list as they live there life instead of waiting until they are older. thanks for this hub. very informative. voted up.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Oh, I loved that movie!! I have lots of things in my bucket list. One of them is to go up in a hot air balloon, but I'm not sure I would actually do that! I think I would be too afraid!

      There are many places I'd like to see before I die.

      Hey, we can dream, can't we?

      I enjoyed this Hub. Voted UP and shared.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 3 years ago from California, United States of America

      This is very interesting how revealing a bucket list can be in showing us what we truly want. And a great way to give us direction and keep us going exploring more dreams. Good stuff!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks Donna! I've seen a lot of different types of bucket lists and they really do help get your imagination going.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      I don't think they are morbid! Bucket Lists are fun! If you doubt this statement watch the movie by the same name then let your imagination run wild concerning what you want to do before you kick old can!

      Its a great article!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for your comments Cheeky Girl! We all need goals and these lists just help remind us of all the things we still need to accomplish--it can be very motivating.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 4 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Great hub on having a bucket list! A list of things to do before kicking the bucket - it should be something we all have in our lifetime. It gives us direction and ambition. Every year we do one more thing on our destination list of places to visit or things to accomplish!

    • mpropp profile image
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      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Oh, that sounds like a great app. I will definitely be checking that out. Thanks for your comment!

    • profile image

      Dreamer 4 years ago

      That's a great post, thank you!

      I'm using mobile application called iWish (bucket list) to have my goals organized and always have them in my back pocket.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you tipstoretireearly! I agree, defining your goals makes you one step closer to accomplishing them. Thanks for stopping by commenting!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

      Creating a bucket list sounds like a worthwhile exercise. It's like any other goal ... unless you define what you want to accomplish, you'll probably not get there. Interesting hub!

    • mpropp profile image
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      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      CloudExplorer, thank you so much for your awesome feedback. I really appreciate the constructive criticism. I agree, I need some more photos and video for this hub to dress it up a bit. I just started learning how to add links and videos, and I've slowly been updating some of my other hubs. I should definitely do that with this one. Thanks again, I'm a big fan of yours so I appreciate your guidance.

      mperrottet, I think you should definitely make that list! As I mentioned, even though it is a bucket list--you can break it down to smaller lists too (like what you want to do in the year 2013). Its less overwhelming that way. Thanks for commenting!

      stephanieb27, that is an awesome idea. I actually opened a pinterest account myself and made a folder for bucket lists too. But, I got side-tracked and I have to go back and start filling that up! I love your idea to take a trip to Greece! I have a separate bucket list of family vacation destinations also (hope to do a hub eventually). Make it happen! Thanks for commenting.

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 4 years ago from United States

      I have started my bucket list in a folder on pinterest! :) I think my big goal is to take a trip to Greece when my kids are older (and when we have more money!) My grandparents and ancestors are from Greece.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      I'm not one to keep lists, but I think I'll take your advice and write down some of the things I'd like to do or accomplish before I "kick the bucket". As you suggested, I might learn something new about myself. Good read, and an interesting hub - voted up, interesting and useful!

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      I love this cool bucket list article you wrote here mpropp, it is something I've always heard someone say, or maybe on a movie or on a television show, but never really knew what it meant.

      I will for sure write my very own bucket list someday, because it is a wonderful idea to do so, and definitely before I die :)

      I like your play on that aspect of things here and all throughout your hub, it's a cute way to approach such an article, great technique overall. I also like your format here, if you like more views from Google, maybe try to add a related video, maybe a few more images, but other then that this is an awesome write up!

      Bravo on doing such a good job here overall, its a useful fun read as well, and I learned something new.

      I actually like your style of writing as well which is a good thing, because I think you're headed to the top here as long as you master SEO and all. I will be definitely be following you now if I have not already, chat with you soon!

      Thumbs up and out.

      Oh I checked yeah I'm following you, and its a smart thing I am, thanks for sharing your talent with us Merry Christmas and happy New Years.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes, good point that writing the list and actually doing what's on it are two different things. We have to get on it! :)

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks Christy! I have to admit that I personally need to take the next step and start DOING what is on my bucket list...but since writing is on the list--I guess I actually am doing at least some of it. Thanks again for commenting!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Bucket lists are inspiration to get the most out of life! Great idea for a hub

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for commenting mary615. Its strange, but no one is 100% certain when the concept/phrase actually started, but it was definitely this century. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I've often wondered just what a "bucket list" is. Wonder who coined that phrase??? I have lots of places I'd like to visit, too numerous to mention, though.

      I enjoyed the read.

    • mpropp profile image
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      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting lovedoctor926. If you ever want to share your list, I'd love to hear it!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Carol7777, I definitely have a few exotic locations on my list. And I still want to write a novel and have it published. Its good to be happy with what we already have though! Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 4 years ago

      Awesome.... good tips. Never really thought about it but will try this exercise.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      My list which is not on paper yet are some pretty simple things...Some hopes for family members to come back. I would also love to take a cruise on the Meditteranean..Maybe some day. I am pretty content with what I have and just want more of the same. Great hub with lessons to be learned while writing your bucket list...Voting up and sharing.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ....lol lol - I am off to work in another hour or so - and I usually take a homework assignment in with me to work on (I do a lot of writing at work when they are not looking -lol) and the idea I am working on is

      'The selective hearing of men' which should be posted sometime tomorrow morning ..... have a great night and stay happy, warm and safe. lake erie time 4:30pm canada

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      There you go again! I bet you have some great pick-up lines! But save those for a hub because I know you would make that hysterical. I look forward to reading it!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ....yes, and pity me ..... because what would I do without you!

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks Epi, you charmer you! This was actually one of the "exclusives" so I thought I'd try one out and take a shot at it. The bucket lists are supposed to be highly personal, but try as I might, I need to break them down to much shorter time frames...I don't like to think about my own mortality!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ........well on my short term bucket list, naturally, is keep in touch with you and read all of your fabulous hubs.

      Thank for defining what a bucket list really is - although it must be a subjective proposition because we all value things (and people) differently in life - but I always value you my friend and your provocative writing style and fine mind - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 2:33pm

    • mpropp profile image
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      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks for your comment Gina145. Try making a shorter term list, like things you hope to do in the next 5 years. Making a bucket list for your whole life can be a bit overwhelming...Thanks again for stopping by!

    • Gina145 profile image

      Gina145 4 years ago from South Africa

      I needed to read this. I know I want more from life, but I really don't know what it is. I will certainly try making a list.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      That's a really good idea alocsin. Sharing your list with the public, or with anyone for that matter, makes you feel more accountable. Thanks for your comment!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Posting this list someplace public also makes it more real and achievable. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you Brett! I agree, the long-term bucket lists seem too vague for me. I prefer the more near-term goals myself. I appreciate you comment!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      I like the idea of shorter term 'bucket lists'. My wants are always changing, some things that meant the world to me 5 years ago, have very little importance now ... life is a journey. But, a short list helps you focus on living for the day! ;-)

      Shared, up, useful, pinned and tweeted.

    • mpropp profile image
      Author

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Billybuc, thanks for commenting. I'd love to travel to a few places myself...and of course, writing a novel is near the top of my list. But you've already written at least one or two, right? Thanks again for your kind words.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gosh, I don't know....my reality is so small as far as wants....I have everything I need. I guess going to Europe would head the list if I had one. :) Loved the hub and I look forward to reading other people's dreams.