October 16, 2013

On Bucket Lists

“That’s one more thing checked on my bucket list!”

I don’t have a bucket list. The mere notion of one makes me cringe a bit, to my big surprise. I have a list of goals, which might be viewed as similar to a bucket list by some. My goals aren’t todos per se, they’re more in the likes of Publish Book X or Save three monthly salaries. I revisit my goals on a yearly basis, a silly time period but New Year’s is such a strong break in our society that it’s easy to conform to. Lately I’ve bothered less with this, but at the same time I don’t want my list of goals to just build up.

That’d make it a bucket list.

Look, a bucket, that's relevant! Photo: katmeresin (CC)
Look, a bucket, that’s relevant! Photo: katmeresin (CC)

I think my problem with bucket lists is that they’re unruly by nature. “This is what I want to do before I die” definitely constitutes some sort of goal, but it’s also everything at once, thrown in a bucket. Most people won’t complete their bucket list, and they’ll probably not feel that they’re getting close to doing it either. List items such as Sleep with a pornstar and Visit space might be achievable, but added up with the 64 travel destinations, the book you want to write, the movie you want to direct, the castle you want to build, and the album you want to record, they get unattainable as a whole.

The term “bucket list” is appropriate, because it’s just a bunch of things you want to do thrown in a bucket, sloshing about. I don’t think that’s helpful.

This year I’ll have ticked off five goals from my list. In a few short months my list of goals will be up for revision and it might or might not match the New Year. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve achieved my goals, and can focus on new ones. As opposed to tick something off a list of 512 items.

Maybe I’m cranky. Enjoy your bucket lists. Anything that helps you do what you want to be doing is a good thing. Just remember to rummage through the bucket and ask yourself what the fuck you put in there, and why you did it in the first place. After all, Sleep with a pornstar is pretty juvenile, don’t you think?

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.