Reverse Bucket List: Look Back Before Looking Forward
Everybody has a bucket list — a random list of things we'd like to do, be, or have before we “kick the bucket.” Some people make do with rough mental compilations, while others prefer their bucket lists typed, formatted, and prominently displayed. (See also: Goal Setting, Defined and Deconstructed)
But what of the bucket list? Where is the context? How satisfied will we feel about our lives today if we're constantly studying a list of things we haven't done? Where do we even begin with a list like this, instigated no less by a big clock in the sky counting us down towards an unknown “bucket date?”
I get panicky just thinking about it.
Although a bucket list can be motivational, I believe that in and of itself it can be more crippling than empowering. In order for a bucket list to reach its true potential, I think we should first start with a Reverse Bucket List.
What's a Reverse Bucket List?
In order to gauge where we're going, it's always good to know where we've come from. Creating a context of our journey thus far is imperative to understanding why we want the things we want, and ultimately, how to get them.
A Reverse Bucket List is a list of things that we think are “bucket list worthy,” but that we've already done. It's a creative way of reflecting on your life thus far and taking note of the some of the experiences that really sang to you.
Not only is it fun, but you might be surprised by what you've already done in your life. (Conversely, you may realize you need to get out of the house more.)
Either way, it's all good.
Reverse Bucket List Exercise
You may want to structure the exercise of making your Reverse Bucket List using the method for devising 100 ways to change your life.
By doing it as a fast-paced brainstorming exercise, you may be surprised at what makes its way on to your Reverse Bucket List. There are no right or wrong answers — only your own answers. It's your life, and your reverse bucket list; write down as many things as you can, without worrying about what you're actually writing. We'll get to that later.
Here are a few general ideas to get your reflective juices flowing:
- Achievements or awards you've received
- Fears you've conquered
- Careers you've had
- Friends you've made and people you've met
- Places you've traveled to
- Anything that's worthy of a story you tell other people
- Goals and milestones you reached
- Childhood dreams (no matter how silly in retrospect) you achieved
- Bizarre or fun things that have happened to you or that you've done
What to Do With Your List
This isn't a pesky to-do list or a vision board that requires prominent display as a reminder of what you need to do or where you're going.
Instead, it's more in the act of constructing and initially reviewing your Reverse Bucket List that you will see the benefits.
Once you've finished writing out your Reverse Bucket List, read through it. What do you think? Do you notice any themes? Are there any gaps? How does reading this list make you feel?
Regardless of whether you feel there's too little or too much on your Reverse Bucket List, you might discover some of the things on it are surprising, even illuminating. And they might lead you to your next step.
The Next Step
Using the observations you made above, now is a great time to project your Reverse Bucket List forward. To reverse the Reverse Bucket List, as it were.
Here are some exercises you can do from here:
- Dream Big, Play With Pictures, and Watch Your Life Change
- Looking for Answers in Life? Here's Your Key
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