The Bucket List Conundrum

The Bucket List Conundrum

The Bucket List Conundrum | brokeGIRLrich

Everywhere I turn there seems to be a new BuzzFeed article about bucket lists – especially bucket lists for your 20s, bucket lists for singles, etc.

When I was a teenager, someone told me about bucket lists and they seemed like such a cool idea I went ahead and made one – but my bucket list isn’t something I’m in a huge rush to finish. There’s stuff on there that will take me an entire lifetime to accomplish, which I sort of thought was a key aspect to bucket lists.

I think the term has been misappropriated a little by our #YOLO generation. By throwing the words “bucket list” in front of a bunch of pictures of pretty places around the globe, I’m suddenly flooded by the urge that time is passing too quickly and I’ve got to rush off and go see these things now.

I think it’s connected to the same hysteria that made me wonder if my life was over as I approached turning 30 – only to find out that it’s not. Surprise, surprise, 31 and 32 still happened and I suspect time is just going to keep marching forward and I’m just going to keep being me.

There’s also an intense artificiality to all these bucket lists. It’s never something like visit Rome and have conversation with a local and a spend a few days calmly sipping espresso and thinking about life or take two years of your life and learn a new language.

It’s like:

  • Visit Rome ✓
  • Visit Budapest ✓
  • Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro ✓
  • See Victoria Falls ✓

It’s like if we just keep moving fast enough and collecting enough check marks, we’ll see all the things.


But I wonder if a lot of these are distractions from what really matters in life – not that I’ve fully worked out exactly what matters in life myself, but I have realized that I’m a hardcore check mark collector and that most of my bucket list check marks don’t matter all that much.

Honestly, I can check more things off the typical bucket list than most folks I know and I’m only 32. Are we just extra blessed at life these days that we get to experience so much more than our parents and grandparents or have we missed a more important boat? One that doesn’t seem to sail through millennial waters much.

I think the bucket list conundrum also connects to all the articles I read on how millennials like to spend their money – we’re an experience driven generation and I love that about us. We’d rather buy a trip to Asia than a shiny new car and I think that’s awesome – there’s definitely a lot that’s admirable in that mindset. I just also think that maybe we have to make sure we’re experiencing the experiences rather than just buying a collection of them. Personally, I’m not always sure that I do.

How about you? Have you noticed that uptick in bucket lists? Do you ever wonder if millennials are doing life backwards? Do you think the constant pursuit of the next check mark is worth it?



17 thoughts on “The Bucket List Conundrum

  1. Working with a lot of millennials, it seems they are restless, like if they are not always turned on by whatever situation they are in, they want to leave and move on to the next thing. It’s more like generation instant gratification, and in some ways that has rubbed off on EVERY generation. For my parent’s generation, they waited, saved, planned, etc. But on the flip side of that, I’m sure many stayed in jobs they hated simply because they thought it was the right thing to do. So who is right? Maybe both, maybe neither. I think it all comes down to YOU and what YOU want out of your life.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Is Fear the Ultimate Motivator?My Profile

  2. Yes. And even the list of 100 dreams is a type of bucket list, and I keep trying so hard to make it past 50. I saw that Wise Bread had a piece on Reverse Bucket Lists the other day, and it reminded me of Northern Expenditure’s “Fill-the-Bucket” List, which was an excellent exercise. It really made me think about what I’ve done and feel gratitude for what I’ve had the opportunity to pursue, rather than spend all my time thinking about how to do the stuff I haven’t made time for yet. Bucket Lists really can become chores, or like any other to do list. Yet, I think they have to create some direction at times. My fear is always that I’m writing someone else’s list. Do I really want to do do what I’ve written down? I work hard to make sure everything is something I’m called to do, and not influenced by the internet.
    Amanda recently posted…My Top Five Reads of the Week #29My Profile

  3. I’m a fan of crossing things off my bucket list, but the things on my list are long term and big expensive trips, etc. So I’m in no rush and my growing family is priority. I heard something just this week from a younger colleague about “30 by 30″ which is folks trying to visit 30 countries by age 30. Talk about a bucket list conundrum!
    The Green Swan recently posted…Is the Enmity Justified for Payday LendingMy Profile

  4. I’ve never thought about making a bucket list but I think they are neat. For me though I think I would be in a constant state of disappointment if I didn’t get to do it all. My life experiences for now are totally different than when I was younger. Now I want to love on the grandchildren, help my fellow man, and leave some sort of legacy. It’s funny how we change our prospective as time goes on.
    Vickie@Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden recently posted…This Week in Our Home: Muffins, Snakes, and Old Seed!My Profile

    • That’s true! I think it’s ok to keep adding to your bucket list and removing things that just don’t matter to you anymore though. That kind of fluid mentality seems to missing on most people’s lists – it’s like once it’s on there it HAS to be done. There are a few things on the bucket list I wrote as a teenager that I have zero interest in doing now.

  5. Eh, I wish I’d done more when I was younger and crossed more off my list. I get really jealous when Jon starts talking about the 3 month cross country (actually cross continent, because it included jaunts through Canada and Mexico) road trip he took post college with his buddies. I can still do that, sure, but it’s tougher with kid (at least til she’s bigger), mortgage, etc.

    That said, “raise a kid” was probably at the top of my bucket list, and that’s at least a 20 year proposition I’m working through.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Your Fall Holiday Money Plan: Prepare Now or Pay LaterMy Profile

  6. Whoa, I love this, Mel. I think the idea of a bucket list for whatever decade you’re in is a little bit unhealthy maybe—the thing we don’t talk about a lot is that there’s a lot of anxiety behind things like FOMO and YOLO—if your social media pictures don’t look as interesting as the next person’s, you feel like you’re doing something wrong. But you’re not. Striving to get highlights to post on Facebook and completely ignoring all the life that’s in between—that seems to be what this version of the bucket list is. And that kind of sucks, because even though there’s some pain and discomfort in between, there’s some beauty in all of that, too.
    FF recently posted…Affordable Carpal Tunnel ReliefMy Profile

  7. I wonder if the rush to more check marks will replace some family traditions? Just a thought but after I read the post I thought about “30 before 30″ (countries). I doubt I will ever see 30 countries and that’s OK. We traveled to the same place for many years and always loved being there and the memories we created. More places is good – different I guess, a wider view but maybe not a deeper one. Great thinking question for the weekend!
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…Can A New Smartphone Save Me Time and Money?My Profile

  8. Yep definitely, I mean I don’t know when that phrase hit our collective consciousness but it would have been in the digital age. It’s easy to broadcast what you’re up, read blog posts exhorting you to follow your passions, there are sites and apps to help you track your bucket list…
    NZ Muse recently posted…Link love (the reinvigoration edition)My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge