The value of having a bucket list

Actually, to be more honest, this post should probably be titled: The value of not having a bucket list. I don’t believe in them, and here’s why.

bucket list

What is a bucket list?

In case you’re unfamiliar with this phrase, it is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” (If that term is new, kicking the bucket means dying.)

On the surface, it may seem like a good idea to have a list such as this, but I can’t say that I really agree.

bucket list


I have some different reasons for this, but I’ll try to highlight some of the big reasons I’m not a fan of these types of lists.

  • Lists make you goal oriented. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I like lists, especially as I’ve found my brain rejecting more and more items from my mental to-do list. It’s easier, helps keep me focused, and makes sure I don’t inadvertently forget something important or something from a quick conversation. However, I don’t think making one’s life wholly goal oriented is a happy or positive way to live. Have a dream, chase it down and make it your bitch, yes. But living your life around crossing things off a list? I don’t think so.
  • When your attention gets focused on goals, you forget simple things. I have these posts I need to write, so I’ll just sit down and stay indoors for days writing them. Well, originally the idea was I’d get them done in half a day, but there was Facebook, Twitter, and oh look cute pics of kitties! and such to distract me from real productivity. Then I go through old emails and realize I agreed to do a post or send photos or something for another blogger “in a couple of days.” That was a month ago. *smacks forehead* I don’t want to get so focused on my goals that I don’t take time to watch the sunset or to test Tigger’s patience threshold by stopping to take 50 photos of a pretty little flower growing out of a log. “Don’t you already have a picture of a flower?”
  • Dreams can get pushed aside. “You see, I have this list of 25 things I MUST do!” Who said! Yet I know people who keep shoving big dreams to the rear because they need to tick more items off their bucket list.
  • The destination or event becomes the journey rather than the journey being, well, everything. I wanted to become a scuba instructor, and I did just that. But there was such an incredible journey getting there. I would’ve missed so much if I only had my eyes set on the end goal. I also know people who don’t really seem to relish these moments. They cross another item off their list, and they’re rushing off to try to complete the next one. I wonder what happens once they’ve crossed off all their items. Do you start with a new list?
  • Takes you away from living in the present. When you have a bucket list, there’s that constant sense of “I haven’t done everything yet!” This is the main reason I don’t have this kind of list. I don’t want to spend my time focusing on the things I haven’t done yet. I’d rather focus on what I’m doing and what else I look forward to doing next.

I’d rather look back and think Wow! What a life!

bucket list

A life somewhat lived

Dream big and pursue it, and have another dream waiting in the wing. I have plenty of dreams to keep me busy for a lifetime, but my life won’t feel unfulfilled if I don’t get to turn every single one of them into reality.

I wonder if I would feel the same if during my final days I still had a list that hadn’t been completely finished. An incomplete bucket list would just leave me feeling like I had somehow failed, even if just a tiny bit. I’ve been with those people in their final moments. I don’t want that for my life.

No thanks. I’d rather look back and think Wow! What a life I had! than to have any regrets.

Share This Post On


  1. Yes, I can see how having a bucket list can distract one from enjoying the present moment. I have been meaning to write a list of places I would like to visit though.

    Post a Reply
    • It all depends on how much you focus on crossing off the items. I have a kind of list of places I’d like to see, but if I don’t make it to any of them it won’t be a major letdown. I see too many people so focused on ticking off entries on their bucket list that they lose out on other areas or a deeper experience.

      Post a Reply
  2. I don’t have a bucket list, but I suppose I am not as ferociously opposed to them in theory as you seem to be. I agree that moving through life solely fixated on ticking items off a list is perhaps not the most rewarding way to live (though I do love a good list & crossing things off of it!) as it can put artificial blinders on you. But, I think a lot of people drift through life without really contemplating the things that they are really passionate about or without trying out new activities and experiences that might completely reframe their life. To me, I suppose bucket lists can help with that and seem to be about living life to the fullest, making opportunities happen rather than just waiting for whatever comes your way. I am not sure that someone on their deathbed would feel they had failed if they had only accomplished a few things on their list, provided they had enjoyed the things they did do and perhaps without the list they might not have done anything at all!

    Post a Reply
    • I wouldn’t define my opposition as ferocious. LOL Lists are fine. It’s how you treat them that can create a problem. I have a list of things I’d love to do and places I’d love to see, but I don’t treat it as “Things I want to do before I die.” Part of my thinking comes from spending over a decade at the bedside of dying people and hearing their stories. Many of them do indeed express regret at having not fulfilled items from their bucket list, and I think that’s a shame. But, again, it’s all in the power you put behind the list or whatever.

      Post a Reply
  3. Well said and all valid points. I have a bucket list but I don’t see it as an “end all” list, rather I see it as these are things I’d like to do or places I’d like to visit but if it never happened it wouldn’t matter a damn. I figure if they never happen it’s because I was/am busy doing something else and probably enjoying myself just as much if not more.

    I think you’re right though, when the bucket list becomes too important than I can see where it would bring on a sense of loss or lack of accomplishment. It’s all about keeping in perspective. Have fun dreaming but don’t forget to live in the moment while you’re dreaming.

    Post a Reply
    • I have a list of things I’d like to do and places I’d like to see, but I treat it the same way as you mention. They are things I’m interested in, but I won’t feel unaccomplished if they don’t happen. When I’m heading to an area that happens to offer something on my list, then I consider that as a possibility.

      Post a Reply


  1. Finish the List Before Kicking the Bucket!!!! | The Maize Essaize - […] think that it leads people to focus too much on things that they haven’t done according to Talon Windwalker. He…
  2. Travel Bucket Lists – Love Them or Hate Them? - […] thinks that a bucket list can distract travelers from living in the present moment. On his blog,, he…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *