Bucket lists are meant to help you live life. Don't let it stop you from living freely.

Why It’s Absolutely OK to Ignore Your Bucket List

Repeat after me: I can’t live my life in a list.

A few days ago I found my 30 before 30 list. You know, one of those long lists with extraordinary items we compare our lives to so it can tell us if we’ve done life right or wrong by a particular date. You know what my list told me that day? That I’m doing life all wrong. Why? Because I’ve only completed 4 items on the list. I’m 29 years old. Less than 9 months till i’m 30 and I’ve only completed four items. And two of those items are things typical for most people in their 20’s – get married and have a baby. Nothing truly spectacular. Sure, they were amazing, life changing events for me but they certainly weren’t any thing out of the ordinary.

The sad part about it was I created that list when I was about 21. What the hell was I doing for the last nine years????!!! Seriously, 9 years went by and I only accomplished four things. That’s just pathetic.

And there were some pretty cool things on that list too. Things like:

  1. Write a book
  2. Visit all major cities in the US.
  3. Start a non-profit organization
  4. Make $100,000 in a year
  5. Get published in 100 magazines.
  6. Become a better swimmer, etc.

As I read through them I found myself getting more and more upset. Because they were all things I wouldn’t mind doing. I’d love to visit all the major cities in the US. I’ve visited some, but not all. Though I dedicate a good amount of time to charity, I still haven’t opened a non-profit organization.  I’m not even close to making $100,000 a year. (Though my favorite freelancing writing book: Six Figure Freelancer certainly helps.) And while I’ve written for national magazines like REDBOOK, I still haven’t cracked the 100 magazine mark. It was all so depressing seeing what I hadn’t done.

I was convinced my 20’s were a complete waste as I continued to go down the list until I got to the tenth item – “own a house”. I don’t own a home, but reading that line made me smile as I sat on my second hand couch in the one bedroom apartment I’ve lived in for years. Call me the craziest woman in America, but I have no desire to own a home which is why reading that item on my 30 before 30 list made me smile. I don’t even know why I included it. It probably just seemed like the right thing to do since everyone else was doing it. But as I got older I realized home ownership is not for me and wasn’t particularly pressing. And it truly didn’t bother me in the least bit to be approaching thirty and still be renting.

My goals just changed. It’s something I knew would happen in the future, but never realized it had already happened. Of course, everything made sense at that moment. My inability to fulfill a majority of my 30 before 30 list had nothing to do with wasting my life away.It also had nothing to do with settling or being lazy. But it did have everything to do with living.

See I forgot that I couldn’t live my life in a list. Instead, I just lived my life. Everyone has goals they want to accomplish and things they need to do to make them happen. Sure I didn’t scratch off half the things on my list, but I sure as hell completed a lot of other list worthy things. If  I hadn’t forgotten about my list I never would have become a fitness instructor. That’s definitely something I’m proud of and wouldn’t change.

Sure, I’d be happy if I complete a few other things on my list. But I’m also ok with not doing them by 30. You can’t compare the goals of a single,  fresh out of school woman in her early 20’s to the goals of  nearly 30 year old wife and mother with a career. It just doesn’t make sense. Yet, that’s exactly what I was doing when I was bummed out about my 30 before 30 list.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You picture your life one way and it turns out to be something different. Sometimes, it turns out so different that you don’t even recognize your life or the past dream. And then you’re  stuck asking yourself, “Where did I go wrong.” You didn’t go wrong or right. You went left – as in you left those dreams and list behind you, lived life and found better aspirations to fit your life style.

Wouldn’t you agree that it would be a bit silly to have not lived up to the dream you had as a 4 year old to be a real life barbie doll who can travel through space? So why would you get worked up over an unfulfilled list or goal you dreamed up 10 years ago? Circumstances change. Lives change. Wants change. It doesn’t make you any less accomplished, unsuccessful or happy. All it does is make you a person who has gained true life experience.

Don't get lost in a list. Instead, get lost exploring life. Click To Tweet

And if for some reason, you dust off your list and find you still want to chase those unfulfilled goals, go for it. Consider it the motivation you needed to keep going. Adjust the steps to fit your new life and keep moving forward.

Yes, a list can be helpful, thrilling and even motivating, but it can’t be the only defining thing in your life. Don’t get lost in a list. Instead, get lost exploring life. And don’t forget to be proud of all the adventures you find along the way.

Do you have a bucket list of sorts? How have your goals changed?

TERRIfic Words: Sometimes on the way to a dream, you get lost and find a better one.

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  1. I like it! There’s no need to get caught up in a list and miss out on the rest of life’s experiences. Kinda like going to an event or on a trip and vlogging the entire time. The experience gets lost. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Goals are great, but we definitely have to be flexible or else we’ll never be content. I add to my list so much at probably impossible to get it all done.

  3. This is an impressive bucket list! A lot of these things are on mine too. I’m currently working on 1 and 3. 4 is on my list for next year. Thanks for sharing this! I think sometimes we get too caught up in trying to get the list done too quickly.

  4. Sometimes our paths to obtain the goals for ourselves are different than what we expect. For instance, you can still write a book and you never know that may have you go on a book tour and you hit the major cities in the US that way! So don’t give up on your goals, they may just take a different route to accomplish!

  5. Sometimes our paths to obtain the goals for ourselves are different than what we expect. For instance, you can still write a book and you never know that may have you go on a book tour and you hit the major cities in the US that way! So don’t give up on your goals, they may just take a different route to accomplish!

  6. I have a list, but I don’t call it a bucket list. More of a ‘this seems cool”list. I write down things that would love to do one day if I ever get this chance. Somethings I plan for, others just happen. I feel like if I write it down and forget about somethings, the Universe will make it happen.

  7. There is a lot of truth here. I had a bunch of unrealistic goals as a kid like marrying Bo off the Dukes of Hazzard… my goals have changed so much, and I don’t even have a bucket list anymore. Feels like I’d be living just to die.

  8. I have goals that I want to accomplish but I have never actually made a list of bucket items. I do enjoy looking back on things I have wrote to see where my life is from then to now. I’m glad you didn’t let your old list get you down to much. Life happens and goals and what we want to accomplish are forever changing.

  9. I’ve never made a bucket list for myself, per say. I do think it’s important to have life long goals and check often to see how far you’ve gotten with them.

  10. Great article! You’re so right, no one wants to live LIFE by a list. I think of the list I had, I’m glad I didn’t accomplish some of those things. lol

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