A New Look at Bucket Lists

“Do you have a bucket list” and “What’s on your bucket list” are questions I’ve been asked many times. My answer has always been no, although I do have some possibilities I’d like to explore.

In my mind, the term bucket list has a negative connotation. I’ve never been lured to think about getting things done before I die. Rather, I like to put the emphasis on living!

A possibilities list gives me a feeling of excitement. A bucket list imposes more of an urgent need to get it done.


Therefore, I make a motion to call it a “possibilities list” or “list of things I want to do” or “joy list.” Would anyone like to second my motion?

Call it whatever feels comfortable for you, but I’ll proceed with bucket list because that seems to be the term with which people are most familiar.

Bucket list activities

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Bucket Lists: the good, the bad, and what might need to change

First, with the help of Merriam-Webster, let’s define a bucket list:

a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

Sorry, I can’t do it… That term just rubs me the wrong way and makes me feel opposed to the whole idea of rushing to do things before I “kick the bucket.” I choose to proceed with calling it a possibilities list. Enough said.

People doing things on their bucket list

The Good

Certainly I see value in a possibilities list. It can give direction for the goals you want to reach. Keeping some focus on things you enjoy keeps life fun.

I think travel destinations are one of the most popular items that appear on possibilities lists. Having a vacation to look forward to can keep daily life interesting as you build up to the big event.

For example, the process of planning a vacation can be as exciting as the actual trip. You can research and plan what you want to do, daydream about your big trip, and then actually experience it with great anticipation.

It’s a process, and joy builds throughout the entire process.


The Bad

My personal opinion is that I prefer to be open to possibilities rather than quasi-commit myself to something that may not hold my interest until the timing is right.

There are so many incredible destinations in this big, beautiful world… why would I want to limit myself to only those destinations I know about when I’m building my list?

Opportunities arise all the time. I keep an open mind and believe the universe will feed me awesome opportunities at precisely the right time of my life. I’m okay with being spontaneous, and actually prefer it!

If I had a list that I really committed myself to achieving, I’d lose out on new, unexpected opportunities.

A Bucket List Alternative

A vision board is daily visual tool to help you focus on what you want. You intentionally choose images and words that depict your desires and dreams, and then you paste them on a poster board.

A vision board can be the first step in purposely bringing the things you want into your life because it makes you think about and create an intention for what you want.

There is a secret to making a vision truly make your dreams a reality, and you can read the secret and everything else you need to know in my post, Ultimate Guide: How to Make vision Boards that Work.

The main gist of vision boards is that you attract to your life what you intentionally think about. I have a vision board on my night stand that I look at every day. From experience I can say it’s a powerful tool to make your dreams a reality.

Has Today’s World Changed Your Goals and Dreams?

Beach destination on a bucket list

That question is the inspiration for this post. I was on a walk and found myself pondering my current lifestyle changes thrust upon us, compliments of the global pandemic.

Many of us have recently had time of “pause” that has caused us to slow down and spend more time at home.

My post 35 Fun Hobby Ideas You Can Learn for Free has had record high traffic for several months. Makes me believe people are finding new ways to enrich their daily lives.

Based on what home improvement business owners have told me, there is great demand for products and services related to home remodeling. People are making their homes more beautiful, comfortable, and a place where they want to spend time.

Do you think staycations will become more popular and our overall desire to travel be diminished? Has your desire to travel changed?

Certainly I still have great desire to travel and see more of this beautiful world. I have incredible memories of our vacation in France, and I’m keeping open the possibility of living there for a few months! I also REALLY want to go on an all-family vacation again.

Yet I think my activities on my possibilities list has changed. I think more about what I want to accomplish for myself. And, I have a renewed priority to be with the people who are important to me. Connection with myself and others has floated to the top of my list.

The time that has lapsed since giving my children a huge hug pre-pandemic is painful to think about. Video calls help, but it’s been way too long. I get to social-distance walk with my mom, but I haven’t been able to hug her in almost 3 months. I just want to spend precious time with the people I love.

Ellen Burgan with her family
My family. Above all, family is my #1 core value.

Figuring out my “WHY” became very important to me in this past year, and I’m incredibly grateful I figured it out. In my recent time at home, my “WHY” has taken precedence and has made my life extremely rewarding with helping people as a Joy Coach.

Has your time of pause made you reevaluate your possibilities list?

Fun Products to Plan Your List!
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Call it want you want, but when you make a list of all the things that are important enough that you’d like to do them, that process of dreaming has to be good! That, combined with staying open to new, surprising opportunities, will certainly bring joy to your life.

Whether you check off all the items is irrelevant. Enjoy the process of creating the list and jumping on the opportunities that come to you. Prioritize, re-prioritize, dream, and go for it!

I feel that recent world events has encouraged us all to put emphasis on our day-to-day life, yet while keeping an eye on the big splashes of fun.

I’d encourage you to do what keeps you excited about life. Daily life and looking into your future all have great value. Gather some ideas and mull them around.

What makes your boat float? Do it! Take action steps toward your dreams. don’t wait for “some day” if you can do it today. Create a bucket list, joy list, or possibilities list if that will help you!

Possibly time itself is our new precious resource. Ultimately, enJOY life.

As a Joy coach, I help women create a new chapter of life that’s filled with more joy, purpose, and fun than ever before. Book a free strategy call with me to get started on your next chapter!


Imagining the possibilities

2 Replies to “A New Look at Bucket Lists”

  1. I like this way of thinking! I think we have to adapt don’t we? That’s a big learning point from this pandemic. Enjoy the little things – your garden, the birds singing, the sun shining.

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