Has Your Bucket List Changed Your Life?

A Bucket List is often thought of as a list of things a person wants to do before they die … before they kick the bucket. Ever since I began blogging, I’ve taken exception to this definition. The idea that a Bucket List is little more than a race against the clock cheapens its value. A Bucket List isn’t just about accomplishing a bunch of selfish goals before you die. It’s so much more than that…

A Bucket List can change your life!

My own List is filled with adventures of all sorts (hunt for the Loch Ness Monster), travels to the most remote corners of the world (stand at the North Pole), and physical challenges (climb Mount Whitney.) And while each of these goals will be an amazing experience, none of them will change my life. Of the nearly two hundred goals on my Bucket List, only a handful will have any direct impact on my life; adopting a child, joining the Peace Corps, and living a debt-free life.

With so few goals that will alter “life as I know it,” how can a Bucket List possibly change my life? Or your life?

Simply creating a Bucket List won’t change your life. But that doesn’t mean a Bucket List can’t change your life. It can … if you’re willing to take action on your goals.

Skydiving, learning a new language, hot air balloon rides, swimming with sharks…

It might not seem like any of these things will change your life, and none of them will. The goals don’t change your life … the process of accomplishing them does. Each goal on your Bucket List will require you to challenge yourself; mentally, emotionally, and physically. You’ll be forced out of your comfort zone, you’ll break old habits, and you’ll learn to adapt to strange situations.

You’ll build confidence, destroy fear, and overcome self-doubt.

If you’re afraid of heights, jumping out of an airplane will force you to face that fear. You might still be afraid of heights after you’re safely back on the ground, but you’ve just proven to yourself that you won’t let fear control your life. Jumping out of an airplane might not change your life, but the confidence and courage you’ll gain by facing your fears will permeate into countless other facets of your life; from your career to your relationships with other people.

Climbing a mountain might have little direct impact on your life, but reaching the summit will show that you have the fortitude and perseverance to push yourself beyond what you thought you were capable of. Climbing a mountain will give you the determination you need to push yourself through other challenging moments in your life. It’s not about climbing a mountain, it’s about what you gain from climbing that mountain.

But you don’t need to jump out of airplanes or climb mountains to change your life.

You can push yourself out of your comfort zone in other ways; by doing stand-up comedy, by shooting a machine gun, or by baring it all at a nude beach. All that matters is that you’re putting yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone, that you’re facing your fears, and that you’re learning how to function in unfamiliar circumstances.

The value of a Bucket List isn’t in the goals themselves, but in what you gain in the process of achieving those goals; strength, courage, confidence, determination, humility, compassion, understanding, and a sense of adventure.

And, yes, it is gratifying to have done so many things most people will only ever dream of doing…

Steven is the author of the blog Hundred Goals where he writes about following your dreams and accomplishing your goals. Steven recently accepted an offer from the Peace Corps to work as an Environmental Conservation Volunteer in Paraguay, Goal #107 on his List of Goals.

Photo credit: ‘Parachute‘ by Big Stock


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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