Are Bucket Lists a Good Idea?

Posted: 01/02/2018

If you are not aware, a Bucket List is a list of a number of experiences or achievements which a person hopes to have accomplished by the time they die. Amongst the most popular in the world are Skydiving and swimming with dolphins, but are these things people really want to achieve or are they just scared of facing up to death?



The term “Bucket List” gained popularity following the release of the 2007 film “The Bucket List” which follows the life of characters played by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson who are both dying of terminal cancer. They each created a bucket list of things they want to do before their time on earth is up and they actually do them.

Going back to 1940, John Goddard, a famous author and explorer, created a list of everything he was determined to achieve in his lifetime. The 15-year old specified a grand total of 127 goals, including; a visit to each and every country around the world, exploring the Great Barrier Reef, watching a cremation ceremony in Bali, milk a poisonous snake and the extremely ambitious wish of visiting the moon! In the years that followed, he added hundreds more goals, committing to achieve them all before it was too late.

The trend has spread far and wide, with plenty of celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Cameron Diaz and Jane Fonda, have spoken of having a bucket list. It has also been reported that Megan Stammers, the girl of 15 years old who ran away to France with her maths teacher, had posted her Bucket List online for anyone to see. The last note had been crossed off – which was to fall in love.

How to Make a Bucket List


Creating your own bucket list is very easy. Start by thinking about and writing down all the things you’ve ever wanted to do which you have not got around to doing yet. These could include things like visiting a particular country, bungee jumping, learning a language, seeing the Northern lights etc.


The problem people have with bucket lists is that they simply put down anything and everything with no means of actually fulfilling the contents of the list. It can also be difficult to think of things that you actually want to do, rather than sticking to the norms of what society sees as “right” or “wrong”.

The key thing to start you off is simply to write down the first thing that comes to your head. After writing your list, take a break from it, come back to it with fresh eyes and cross things off or add things which you think you have missed out.

Avoid typing something into Google like “Bucket list ideas” – this is not being true to yourself and what you really want from your life.

Are They a Good Idea?


A bucket list can be great for clearly defined your goals. However, to some the list seems to encourage a mixture of conformity and highly individualised behaviour – a situation in which everyone is aiming for the same goals, but alone.

Some people claim that bucket lists smack of consumerism. Bucket lists can be exploited to sell you trips and experiences after you have convinced yourself that you really want to do them in your lifetime – nothing but clever PR, say some.

Some psychologist have expressed concern that having a bucket list is less about leading a good life and more about filling an existential void. There is also an alarming competitive nature attached to the idea of a bucket list. People striving to have the best and wackiest list, which means that it completely loses it personal touch and no longer becomes things that you truly want to do.

However, some people see bucket lists as a way of coping with inevitability of death. If it is a healthy method which can provide comfort, then why not have a bucket list? Others do not think it is healthy at all and a bucket list is simply a way of denying death. It has been said that having a bucket list shows that a person cannot cope with the idea of death and therefore fantasises about all the things they are going to do, even though they probably never will. In this regard, bucket lists can be seen as a person ensuring (whether that be truthfully or falsely) that they have things to look forward to, so that the inevitability of death does not seem so harsh.


Overall, bucket lists should always be personal and coming from a healthy approach to death. There is no right or wrong answer to whether they are a good idea, that is completely up to the individual. If you think they are a great way to make sure you have a clear understanding of what experiences you want from your life, the go for it – write one up! If you agree that they appear to be an unhealthy coping mechanism intertwined with cleverly formulated PR by companies, then it may be best to avoid making one yourself.

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