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Why Coming Up With Bucket List Ideas May Not Be The Way To Go

Updated on December 13, 2012

Don't try to come up with things to do before you die. Instead, ask the question, what will you regret not doing before you die?

Bucket list ideas. Things to do before you die. Life goals. Adventure list. No matter what you call it, these type of lists have one thing in common - selfishness. Being selfish can be a good thing; it allows you to love yourself, as long as you don't go overboard with it. Everyone has (or will) make one of these at some point in their lives, and recently I began mine. As I wrote down everything I wanted to do or learn, there was something in the back of my mind that was telling me that something wasn't right. All of my bucket list ideas were feeling empty, so I laid down my pen and went to bed for the night where the answer came to me.

I had been asking myself the wrong question. I had been asking, what do I want to do before I die when I should have been asking what would I regret not doing before I die. The wording was subtle, but it had a dramatic effect on my thinking and on what I had written down. The most immediate result of my break-through moment was the crossing out of a lot of the ideas on my bucket list. Most just didn't seem important to me anymore. I would love to do them, but I wouldn't regret not doing any of them. After hours of work the new list was much shorter, but much, much deeper and brought up strong emotions in me while making it. They were bucket list ideas boiled down to show what I really wanted.

You can tell a lot about someone by the goals they set in their lives. In this lens, I'm going to share with everyone my "regret list." I don't know if what I've done will work for others. What I do know, is that if you change your frame of mind; change the question; you can create something totally unexpected that can change your life, but I'll still throw in some of the superficial bucket list ideas as a kind of chocolate reward for the soul. Enjoy.

Photo by Katie Harris / flickr.

10 Things I Would Regret Not Doing If I Died Today

1- Writing A Movie Script

I can't tell you how many times I've said to myself while watching a movie, "I could do better than that." I'm willing to bet others have also said it. After doing a little research, I came to the realization that it all comes down to the movie script. Nothing is more important.

I love movies, I have stories to tell. I want to try and tell one for the big screen. With any luck (and a lot of work), I'll see this life goal come to fruition.

2- Directing A Movie Or Short Film

Some people might think that I'm wimping out by putting short film in there, but it all comes down to cost and common sense. If I can make a good short film, I'll be able able to make a good feature film when I'm given the opportunity. Who knows though, I may get an opportunity (money wise) to make a feature without having to work on shorter movies first.


3- Secret Goal

I've always been told that if you don't really want anyone to know something, don't tell them (or write it down). This particular goal is very personal to me and at this point in time, I want to keep it to myself.

I list it here only because it is very important to me. I may eventually share it with the world - maybe.

4- Getting Out of Debt

The bottom line with this is that I don't want to pass away leaving my loved ones with debts I may have. Debt not only robs you of choices and chains you to a job you may not like while you're living, but it also gives your loved ones a big headache when you're no longer around. Once I get out of it, I'm never getting back into it again.

Some people say there is good debt and there is bad debt. In my opinion is the best debt is - no debt.


Photo by / flickr.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. - Henry David Thoreau

Direction - 24 x 18 in. Art Print

Buy for $5.98

5- Starting A Business

One thing that I find as interesting as movie and creativity is business. I can very easily lose track of time by reading how certain companies were started and how they are run. Part of it may be the fact that you can be your own boss when running a business. I find that very appealing, despite the hard work involved in running one.

6- Making The World A Better Place

Perhaps one of the most difficult bucket list ideas I've listed in this lens. I would like for my actions to make the world a better place, though it may be impossible to tell the difference on any wide scale. I may never know the results of me helping someone or if their was a result at all. This is one life goal that I may never be able to judge on how successful I was, but it's one that I would definitely regret not trying to achieve.

I've given some thought on how to go about this and I've come up with a few ideas that I know have a good chance of making a positive change.

Being nicer to people.

Helping others and volunteering more.

Offering wisdom to others when needed.

7- Making A Piece Of Artwork Worthy To Hang On A Wall

I'm a big fan of art, and I seem to be able to find something I like in every category imaginable. I want to create something that I would be proud to hang in my own home and be good enough where others would want to buy it.

Below is a small sampling of some of the stuff I'm a fan of, in fact I actually own most of it and use it as inspiration.

Tournée du Chat Noir, c.1896

24 x 36 in. Poster by Théophile Alexandre Steinlen

Buy for $6.99

Run by Niagara Detroit

11 x 14 in. Art Print

Buy for $9.99

East Africa by Ben James

18 x 24 in. Art Print

Buy for $35.99

Goldfinch and Cherry Tree, c.1834

12 x 16 in. Art Print by Katsushika Hokusai

Buy for $9.99

Sin On Wheels by Paul Rader

6 x 8 in. Art Print

Buy for $5.99

8- Being Fit Enough To Be Able To Chase My Dreams

I am not fit. I have been unfit for so long, I've forgotten what it feels like to be in shape. It's time for me to lose fat, gain muscle and be in a position to mark off every other goal I've got on this list. 'Nuff said.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. - Anatole France

Believe - 24 x 18 in. Art Print

Buy for $11.99

9- Going On An Adventure

I have come to believe that it is definitely worth it to pursue adventure. It seems to make your whole being come alive. I've only ever had small adventures, but the feeling it gave me was extraordinary. I want to take things a bit further.

Say What You Need To Say Music Video - By John Mayer

10- Not Getting A Book Or Graphic Novel Published

I love to read and have even written a few stories in my life, but I would love to write something that could be seen on a library shelf. I think it would be a truly fantastic accomplishment.


Some Of My Second Teir Bucket List Ideas

Not as important, but still nice to refer back to.

1-Learning how to swim.

2-Travelling to Ireland.

3-Write a song (not sing one).

4-Go out on a date with Emma Stone.

5-Build something.

6-Learn how to ride a horse.

7-Fly on a plane (first class).

8-Audition for a Broadway play.

9-Hike the Appalachian Trail.

10-Taste a very expensive bottle of wine.

11-Go stargazing in the desert.

12-Swimming with Great White Sharks.

13-Learn some kind of martial art.

14-Learn how to sword fight.

15-See something supernatural.

16-Run my hands through a lion's mane.

17-Go to the Burning Man.

18-Give a hundred dollar tip to a waitress.

19-Walk the Great Wall in China.

20-Design and build the perfect library.

21-Learn to fly a helicopter.

22-Go into space and see earth from up above.

23-Climb the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

24-Spend the night in a cemetery with friends telling ghost stories.

25-Do nothing but travel across the U.S. for a whole year.

And Some Traditional Ideas For A Bucket List


Bucket List For Comic Book Fans

1-Own a piece of original cover art done by Frank Frazetta, Adam Hughes or Bernie Wrightson.

2-Finally get my hands on The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1st appearance of The Punisher).

3-Dress up as a superhero and save someone.

4-Go to San Diego Comic-Con.

5-Write a graphic novel and get it published.

6-Get an actual movie prop from the Superman II movie (1980). "Kneel before Zod!"

7-Sit down and have a nice leisurely talk with Stan Lee.

Bucket List Or Regret List?


Do you plan on creating a bucket list or regret list?

See results

1,000 Places To See Before You Die - Perfect suggestions for travel related bucket list ideas.

Bucket lists always seem to have places to visit in them for some reason. I don't know why (sarcasm).

1,000 Places to See Before You Die: Revised Second Edition
1,000 Places to See Before You Die: Revised Second Edition

You should be warned that you may eventually have to buy another copy because of heavy use from note taking and carrying it around everywhere. You've been warned.


Do you prefer simple bucket list ideas that you can finish quickly or those that require more time? Or is time even an issue? - Suggesting your own things to do

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens, and has made me think about enough that I am going to write a response lens. I will post the link back to you when done. Blessed!

    • Millionairemomma profile image


      6 years ago

      This made me think! What does a bucket list become when you have a child though? All my dreams are geared toward my child now. Loved, loved...this lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I remember when the movie came out, everyone (including me) was coming up with these huge pages of bucket list ideas. I actually drug mine out and discovered that I had not done one thing on the list.

      I think that I agree with you. The things you do before you die should be stuff that you would really regret not doing and not a bunch of ideas you'd like to do one day.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't believe that we should have time for regrets! I prefer to live each day in the moment, achieving all that I can with what I've got! Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.

    • aaxiaa lm profile image

      aaxiaa lm 

      6 years ago

      I'm expecting photos from your date with Emma Stone :D

    • Thomas-J-Stevens profile image


      6 years ago

      I think you can manage to give a $100 tip to a waitress. C'mon. Just do it!

    • magictricksdotcom profile image


      6 years ago

      I like your approach to this. What a fresh take on an overdone idea. Nice lens that got me thinking.

    • Shoputopian profile image


      6 years ago from Lower Mainland of BC

      I really need to start a bucket list, great lens

    • UKGhostwriter profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! me thinking!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      6 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I think I agree with your approach. I've got writing my novel right at the top of my list. I should go work on it right now... So did your list make you go out and do something about it?

    • Tugee profile image


      6 years ago

      This is one of the best lenses I have looked at so far. Amazing and very deserving of the blessing I'm giving it. Thank you!

    • chwwalker lm profile image

      chwwalker lm 

      6 years ago

      I'm currently compiling a bucket list just so I can remember all my goals years from now. Not that I have to actually do everything on the list, but that doing them would make me feel like I really experienced and enriched my life instead of just endured it. My biggest goal is finding a way to balance my desire to be location independent and travel to a lot of places with my more location-specific goals like having a family and owning a home.

    • victoriuh profile image


      6 years ago

      I like your angle on it. One thing I want to do is write a book. Oh, wait, I mean FINISH writing a book. Lol. Starting is not my problem!

    • whats4dinner profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice, insightful lens. It would be nice to have a list but we shouldn't limit ourselves to that list, whatever comes we should embrace it.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      I want to create and publish several more family history books. Guess that would be my top goal.

    • autofanatic profile image


      6 years ago

      Bucket list? No way! Too limiting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Really nice lens. If I had a list, your points 1 to 6 would definitely be on it.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 

      6 years ago

      I don't have bucket list ideas :) But your's look great :D

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I got one crazy idea to do before i die; to go around the world with BICYCLE!

      Yes, you heard me right!

    • Shivani09 LM profile image

      Shivani09 LM 

      6 years ago

      i definitely agree with making the world a better place, and going on an adventure. I'd also regret not having had at least 20 dogs.. Great lens :)

    • joannalynn lm profile image

      joannalynn lm 

      6 years ago

      I have never had a bucket list, and I don't consider having one. In fact, I must live in some kind of vacuum, because, I just started hearing about these recently. I just live my life each day, and try to make the world a better place, even if it just means a kind word to someone. I enjoy the beauty of the natural world, hiking, my garden, and I love my family, and of course my dog-girl :). I want the best for my two boys. It is enough for me. You have taken a wonderfully honest introspective look at your feelings and desires. It is refreshing.

    • hessa johnson profile image

      hessa johnson 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens, very thought provoking.

    • KittySmith profile image


      6 years ago

      Thoughtful. I think the bucket list is a good idea, you seem to improve on it. Can we have both? ]0)

    • wcjohnston profile image


      6 years ago

      My Bucket has a hole in it, so what ever I want to do today, tomorrow it would be something different

    • Alethia LM profile image

      Alethia LM 

      6 years ago

      It's great to have an (or many) aims for life but I think one particular point of life that is missed is just enjoying the unpredictability. That itself makes it onto one of the things I don't want to regret :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have never thought of making a bucket list... I have read many ... but it just doesn't suit me.. I have goals but not like that... I mean.. I live my life.. work hard, try to have great principles, and I don't ever want to feel regret for anything, I believe that everything we do and everything that happens to us is for a reason :) Blessed!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      6 years ago

      I did a list like this, and then came here (Earth School) to do it. Death, when karma has been undone by doing what we know we need to do with the gift of the body, is the ultimate relief. This is an important lens - you've hit on the real meaning of why people create bucket lists. Even if it appears they are being selfish on the outside, they are still creating circumstances in this life where karma can be undone, which is what we all come here to do. Denial of a regret list = another chance to do it again. And again. And the bonus is, we can have fun undoing karma, suffering is optional. Anyway - awesome lens. Blessed.

    • Kruger-2-Kalahari profile image

      Mario Fazekas 

      6 years ago from johannesburg South Africa

      I like number 6 - making the world a better place! If each of us focused on this then we would do things to benefit others and not think just selfish thoughts. We are all going to die and what legacy are we going to leave behind? Well done on including this point!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      you know what, I really love this line: A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn... Actually, failure in life is natural thing. the best thing to do is don't quite. thanks for sharing this wonderful lens.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      After raising four children and having 7 grandchildren, my hubby and I have a small bucket list of things just for us - we've waited a long time to have some "just us" time!

      Love the way you are thinking and I think each age is different - nicely done and blessed.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Put an old truck back together.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What you have written there especially in your introduction does evoke a lot of thoughts. I thank you for sharing these insights and I realised one of your goals was to make the world a better place? You took another step forward already my friend =) I wish you all the best in achieving all your goals you've set out to reach!

    • livinglargeandh profile image


      6 years ago

      I'd suggest that learning to swim moves up a couple of notches. Not expensive, won't take long, and could be one of the things that allows you the time to do all the other things on your list ;-) Just a thought.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My husband and myself were just thinking out loud yesterday what we want to do in the next ten years of active life. We know what we will do after that.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      You have some thought provoking ideas here! I do believe it is reasonable to consider what you would regret not doing.

    • gatornic15 profile image


      6 years ago

      I like the idea of coming up with things you would regret not doing rather than just some random somewhat meaningless list.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      I really love your perspective. Terrific question. Certainly makes me rethink any kind of life list I might create. The "Bucket List" of my 20s is definitely very different from a list I would post here today. Thank you for inspiring me to reflect on this and to design a complete makeover for my former Bucket List. May you live with no regrets. *Blessed*

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      You bring an interesting perspective to the "bucket list" ... I'll be back to re-read this at leisure (i.e. not after midnight), when I have time to absorb properly and reflect.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Read every word and must say really enjoyed the creative thought behind your list. Most bucket lists are dreams, very unrealistic and you're right, just selfish. Best wishes to you...and maybe this is the start of a great book! Blessed!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like your creative twist on the bucket list. It makes life goals more obtainable, and gives more thought to what is truly important.

    • siobhanryan profile image


      6 years ago

      That is a great idea and food for thought--we all want to do everything but really but the important thing is what we need to do.


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