What’s In a Bucket List?

The absolute cornerstones of lifestyle design are the exciting and celebrated dreams that are manifested by fulfilling your purpose. Why take the risk of living differently if different isn’t much, much better?

Common sense would therefore suggest you better have a few dreams worth pursuing. Enter the “before I kick the bucket” list.

Strange tandem: Why is kicking a bucket associated with death? One theory is that the English word bucket had an alternate meaning back in the 1500’s, as documented  in a 1570 dictionary where bucket also means beam and by Shakespeare in 1597 in Henry IV Part II: 

“Swifter then he that gibbets on the brewers bucket.”

Gibbet means to hang. Animals were butchered while hanging upside down from a beam, which we can now infer was called a bucket. Of course in the process of being butchered they were likely to struggle and “kick the bucket.” A bit of a morose visual.

Getting back on track: It’s mind boggling to me that anyone would not have a bucket list already. The bucket list combines the two great passions of overachievers: lists and goals. Just the act of numbering, color-coding, and checking off the grocery list is exhilarating.

I created my first bucket list on January 1st, 2006. I was 20 years old; somehow it didn’t occur to me until then.

The original list consisted of 100 goals, quite a few of which have fallen off, such as trying every fruit on the planet (just a bit unrealistic) and being engaged for a year (only made it 9 months).

Revisiting my bucket list over the years has resulted in a revised total of 80 to-do’s so far, with more to come I’m sure. I share them only because I enjoy reading others’ lists. It gives you a pretty intimate glimpse into their personality. In reviewing mine, you might imagine that I aim to be about 300 pounds with a gold frequent flyer card.

  1. Get married and have children.
  2. Publish a book.
  3. Participate in an art exhibition.
  4. Sell of a piece of artwork.
  5. Obtain a bachelor’s degree.
  6. Obtain a master’s degree.
  7. Spend a year without television.
  8. Climb inside a volcano crater.
  9. Volunteer after a disaster.
  10. Play with a monkey.
  11. Run a 5K.
  12. Become fluent in conversational Spanish.
  13. Live on a dirt road.
  14. Become completely debt free.
  15. Live 3 months in a foreign country.
  16. Become a millionaire.
  17. Pay for my kids’ master’s degrees.
  18. Become an adjunct professor.
  19. Outsmart 9-5.
  20. Win a cooking contest.
  21. Have my garden featured in a magazine.
  22. Be quoted in a national publication.
  23. Professional culinary training in Italy.
  24. Professional culinary training in France.
  25. Professional culinary training in Japan.
  26. Become a recognized expert.
  27. Become a NY Times Bestselling Author.
  28. Go deep sea fishing and catch something.
  29. Eat cannoli in Little Italy.
  30. Eat cannoli in Sicily.
  31. Visit 20 different foreign countries.
  32. Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef.
  33. Kayak a major river.
  34. Oktoberfest in Munich.
  35. Eat spanakopita in Greece.
  36. Enjoy fry jacks for breakfast in Belize.
  37. Eat tacos from a cart in Tijuana.
  38. Drive a 10-second quarter mile.
  39. Eat witchetty grubs in Australia.
  40. Have corned beef and shepard’s pie in Ireland.
  41. Enjoy pain au chocolat and a vanilla latte in Paris.
  42. Take a month-long road trip. – Summer, 2013 in a VW camper van
  43. Publish an article.
  44. Become a paid consultant.
  45. Get paid for a speaking gig.
  46. Walk away from a 6-figure job offer.
  47. Take a ride in a helicopter over a lava flow.
  48. Have a 50th anniversary.
  49. Learn to snowboard.
  50. Try asado in Uruguay.
  51. Eat suspiros in Costa Rica.
  52. Tour the pyramids in Egypt.
  53. Write in a journal for a year.
  54. Go rock climbing.
  55. Drive down the West Coast. – Vancouver to San Francisco, 2013
  56. Take a hot air balloon ride.
  57. Ride the world’s tallest roller coaster.
  58. Eat haggis in Scotland.
  59. Try some green-lipped mussels and pavlova in New Zealand.
  60. Visit all 50 states.
  61. Pair wine and provoleta in Argentina.
  62. Go sky diving.
  63. Be a part of a magic show act.
  64. Make a memory book for each of my kids.
  65. Become a yoga instructor.
  66. Donate my eggs.
  67. Rent out a water/amusement park.
  68. Become a foster parent.
  69. Climb Mount Olympus.
  70. Become a work from home mom.
  71. Paint a mural.
  72. Write a memoir.
  73. Do a cartwheel on the Great Wall of China.
  74. Set up a college scholarship fund.
  75. Have a grandchild.
  76. Be a keynote speaker at a national event.
  77. Bust a coal one more time.
  78. Read 52 books in a year. – In progress
  79. Become instructor certified in swimming.
  80. Enter my pickles in a contest. – Hopefully the State Fair next summer!

What are some of your favorite to do before you die goals?

Love bucket lists? Check out this great blog documenting Annette’s incredible bucket list journey.

  1. Love your bucket list (and will be stealing a few of your goals!)

    My biggest goal is to get out of my dead end job and totally switch careers. I want to be a chef!

Free resources and support, every Friday: