Let’s Call it a Bucket List

Let's Call it a Bucket ListI confess, I don’t have a bucket list. I never even gave one a thought before my dog’s life started winding down. I heard about a dog in Florida that had a bucket list, and I thought coming up with one for our beloved pet of 13 years might be a great way to shift our focus from the inevitable and give our pet a few last romps. We’re all having a good time with it. But before this? I thought the bucket list was just a movie with some old guys in it.

Then I came across a blog post from a twenty-something called “My Fall Bucket List.” What? Maybe I didn’t understand what a bucket list was. So I looked it up in the dictionary. According to Miriam Webster, a bucket list is “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.” So, I went back to the blog post to see if the woman was ill. Nope. Apparently she has a bucket list for each season – including the holiday season. They had lots of fun things on them – but many were not things that she (presumably) hadn’t done before (read three books, visit a cider mill, romp through dried leaves, etc).

So, if she’s not trying to get it done before she dies, and it’s not something she hasn’t done before, isn’t it just a ‘fun things to do’ list? Are we diluting the whole bucket list concept? (Speaking of diluting experiences, is anybody else appalled that kindergarteners now have graduations? Complete with cap and gowns?? ) Or are we more likely to get things done on our ‘to-do’ list if we frame it more dramatically?

Does a label really make a difference in being motivated to accomplish something? I was reading an article by one of those people that will go to your home and get you organized. She was working with a client who had failed miserably at all attempts to de-clutter her home. The organizer gave her an “Action Plan” (which looked suspiciously like a ‘to-do’ list to me) and voila! – the client became committed to the process and went on to execute the action plan. (I’m sure her success had nothing to do with Ms. Organizer cracking a whip behind her during an 8-hour Saturday organizing session).

So what I learned is I’m doing it wrong. The reason I’m still so unorganized in spite of my many to-do lists is I’m using the wrong terminology. I’m going to immediately start a bucket list and “Drafting an Action Plan” is going to be the first thing on it. I’ll have to get back to you on the rest of the content because I don’t have time to work on it right now. I have to get my dog to Arby’s for a French Dip. It’s Number 17 on her bucket list.

Let's Call it a Bucket List



  1. Clever article. . . Terminology is powerful ( sometimes). 😉

        1. You’re adding “change to action plan” on your to-do list, or you’re swapping out titles? I’d go with the latter, if I were you – so much more efficient! -El

  2. Oh I loved this. Whose got time to write frigging lists anyway – I’m too busy getting out doing things I want to do.

    1. I like the doing versus writing about doing attitude, Jenny! While I’m quite the list-writer myself, it’s more about trying to remember what I’m suppose to do by the end of the day then planning all that can be done before the end of my life! -El

  3. I don’t worry much about the nomenclature that people use . . . as long as they choose to move in the direction of HAPPINESS!

    If we’re here, we might as well be HAPPY. :mrgreen:

    1. Can’t argue with that, NR! It’s like those big fancy weddings that people spend so much time planning the reality of the event is sometimes a letdown. Instead of planning all the things that can make us happy, let’s just (as Pharell would say) GET happy!

  4. I had a bucket list once, but things on it kept changing the older I got. Like I no longer desire to learn diving anymore. in fact, I’ve developed a fear of it. I like to surprise myself with new adventures, but my definition of adventure keeps changing also. Some days all that’s on my bucket list is making it to the grocery store 🙂

    1. It seems like people could get so caught up in trying to accomplish what’s on the list that they miss out on where they are! Like you, SK, IF I had a list, I’m sure it would be ever-changing. Trying to plan all that we’d like to do before dying when we don’t know what the rest of our lives look like is akin to expecting an 18-year-old with no world experience to ‘declare a major’ and work toward that goal in spite of being exposed to new and more interesting classes that they never knew existed! -El

    1. Well, I have to admit that an “Action Plan” is a little more motivating than a (unfortunately-in-spite-of-wanting-to-go-have-fun-I-have) “to-do” list! You’re probably to busy doing to write down what you want to do, Lets! -E;

  5. That comic is hilarious! No bucket list for me, but I couldn’t function without my To-Do List. I agree with your thoughts on graduation ceremonies for kindergarteners it’s as appalling as those beauty pageants for little girls.

    1. So glad to know I’m not alone on the ridiculously premature ceremonies, Jill! By the time kids hit the formerly-big-moment high school graduation, it’s often the third time they’ve donned the caps and gowns. (Because you know sometimes there’s a 6th or 8th grade graduation, right?!) It’s like buying bras for a six year old – there’s just not a need for it!

  6. While my mother was still able to watch and follow movies, I told her about THE BUCKET LIST and asked if she wanted to see it. She asked if it was like planning things before you “kick the bucket.” Then she shook her head and said she didn’t want to see it; she just didn’t get the need for a plan like that. Why couldn’t people just get up early in the morning, enjoy each day as it came, and go to bed tired and happy?

    I LOVE the cartoon! And, like Jill, I’m appalled at those little girl beauty pageants. But I’m also appalled that the Miss America sponsors call the pageant a scholarship program. I’ve seen the stats on how much they alter the numbers to make it look like they give big scholarships. But of course to get high ACT and SAT scores, you need to be in a bathing suit. 🙁

    1. Love your mom’s attitude on living, Marylin – and so appreciate her bits of wisdom that you share with us on your blog. And speaking of living, that cartoon does offer a different perspective on how satisfying a bucket list can be!

      I already have a chip on my shoulders about beauty pageants, but I would still like to see the real numbers on what the scholarships are – because that is definitely the most-touted reason for participating.

  7. Excellent points! In a world gone bonkers where kids get ‘A’s’ for just showing up and sitting at a desk in school, all connection with reality – earning A’s for example: working hard, doing your best and even risking experiencing failure and/or hurting yourself in the process are deemed unnecessary, we must add to the mix complete disregard for language, nomenclature AND have the very young nick the only thing left to the aged and infirm – our bucket lists!

    And no, I don’t have a bucket list – I’m way to young to even think about that and I’m way too busy doing everything I want and can afford to do now 🙂

    1. And how about the “no score-keeping” policy at kid’s sporting events (so that EVERYONE feels like a winner)?? Not very good preparation for the real world!

      Love your attitude, Pauline – I suspect if you had limitless funds you could be dangerous!! -El

  8. Loved the article AND all the previous comments! Like sknicholls, my idea of “adventure” changes as I grow older, and what I might have enjoyed in previous decades is just not appealing anymore. I’m more into comfort these days. Things I really NEED to do just can’t be put off until later…

    Events like baby beauty pageants and kindergarten graduations dilute the prestige of working for something worthwhile and succeeding. Perhaps bucket lists are one of the products of a society that has lost sight of simple pleasures; I’m pretty sure Nicholson’s character in the movie personified that.

    Good post!

      1. Not really, I have just have never given it much thought, lol. I live my day one at a time and writing is an important part of it. I guess the first thing I would put on my list, however, is to get my novel about three young southern boys in the summer of 1949 published. I plan to hit that one hard the rest of the year. Blessings!

  9. We all have a bucket list it’s just the terminology that has changed. We used to call it hope’s and dream’s, or to do list as you pointed out. I prefer the dream part because it is so comforting when we can make our dream’s come true. :o)

  10. Oh too cute….That Arby’s french dip for your dog…I laughed so! I can see doing this for my dog. I have a sort of bucket list on my pinterest. Yes it is things I’d like to do, places to go to, etc before I die, if at all possible. Just sort of a fun thing; things to dream about. ha

    1. Just don’t spend more time writing them than doing them, Noreen! I know from checking out your “Trail News” you have a pretty good track record for accomplishing goals! Next week we’re going to launch “GoalFest” here – something to help us get more intentional about accomplishing our getting-fierce goals.

  11. I write lists but then lose then, ha! Loved this post Shel and it’s so true…the whole ‘bucket list’ thing has become diluted. I’m panicking over my ‘to do’ list just for this weekend with my boys coming home for Eldest Son’s birthday and wondering how I’m going to find time to do the grocery shopping never mind world-travel. And Kindergarten graduations? I was shocked when I first experienced this when I moved to the States. Never heard of such a thing. Heck, back in those ancient times when I was at school (the 70’s) my last day of school consisted of taking a piece of paper round to each teacher for them to ‘sign me out’, a quick ‘goodbye’ to the headmaster and that was it 😉

    1. The 70s ancient?? Seems like just yesterday to me! I’m a list-lady, too, Sherri – I swear I have lists of lists! None of them, of course, a ‘bucket list.’ Like you, I’m lucky to get through my daily to-do list (I mean ‘action plan’) without losing the paper it’s written on!

      I hope you have a grand time with the boys this weekend! And remember – it may be HIS birthday, but it’s YOUR anniversary of the (how many-ith?) year that you birthed him. A joint celebration is definitely in order!

      1. Haha…well I was being facetious when I said that! It really was only yesterday wasn’t it??
        Ahh…thanks Shel! We had a super weekend (and look, just catching up…again!). It was son’s 32nd birthday and I honestly have no idea how that happened!! A day I’ll never forget even if he can’t remember it…which is probably just as well o_O
        Hope you had a super weekend too and a great week ahead. I know where to find you now 😉

        1. I’m so glad you enjoyed your anniversary/birthday weekend, Sherri! I do the ‘catch up’ thing on blogs, too. I try to set a aside chunks of time for that because if I check them out right when they come in – no matter how stern I am with myself that I’ll just check in quickly then get right back to work – I find myself having an enjoyable loiter and time gets away from me! Now having said that, I hope (when you get your next chunk of time) that you’ll check out our GoalFest post and set an October goal with us. Motivation loves company!

          1. Yes, I know what you mean Shel. If I’m not super disciplined (and I’m usually not 🙁 )and do my off-blog writing before checking other blogs I’m lost for the day…like today….say no more 😉 I’ll head over there right now 🙂

  12. I love your writing style. And, yes, I do have a Bucket List. I’ve worked on it for a while now. It gets loftier with each addition, but I figure, why not? The chicken cartoon cracked me up.

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