A lot of people ask me about places I’ve been because it’s on their “bucket list” and they want to go there “someday”. I always enjoy telling stories and sharing pictures so I’m happy to tell them about some of the cool places I’ve been (you can check out for yourself on my Trip Reports page).
But there’s something that gnaws at me about bucket lists and I’m finally willing to say it. Get rid of your bucket list. Right now. Here’s why.
Bucket lists are monuments to things you haven’t accomplished
Especially in an America that’s obsessed with checklists and accomplishments, it’s too easy to look at a bucket list, sigh, and say “oh someday” without actually planning to cross anything off of it. Quit looking at your bucket list and reminding yourself of all the hopes and dreams that you have of Traveling More or Seeing New Zealand or Whatever.
What happens when you die someday? If you have a long bucket list, did you fail? I hope not. I hope you’re pushing back the darkness of the world and making a positive impact on those around you, regardless of how many boxes you’ve checked on some arbitrary checklist. Identify the next place you want to go, figure out who you want to go with, make a plan, and go!
It’s easier than ever to find amazing things you haven’t done and amazing places you haven’t been to
Buzzfeed, HuffPo, Andy’s Travel Blog. At least two out of those three are constantly posting articles about The Most Amazing Places In Micronesia or some other place you probably haven’t heard of. This is great, so you add it to your bucket list. Before you know it your bucket list is 30 places long! The places that I want to visit but haven’t yet are places I’ve researched backwards and forwards and know a ton about before I plan a trip there. Seeing an amazing place should make you want to know more about it, it’s too easy to overwhelm ourselves with professional photographs from blogs and websites without getting an accurate perspective of a place. When you go to a place you have to experience it warts and all. There are good and bad things about every place, don’t just trust a select few pictures you’ve seen on a website.
It’s easier to say you want to do something than to do it
Bucket lists should be about doing things, not wishing things. So often I see people with long bucket lists and no plans for accomplishing those things! Now, part of having a good list of travel goals is understanding the life stage you’re in. If you just had twins, maybe travel isn’t in your future for a year or two. But if you have the time and have the resources, go do something on your list!
You probably have too many things on your list
Pick the one place you want to go next. Or maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you should look in the mirror and say, “for the next year I belong at home. I’m going to be content here and throw all of life at Home and be present for my friends, family, and coworkers as best as I can.”
What’s this all mean?
I think it’s important to live in the Right Now. It’s good to have goals but you must make sure that the goals are motivating you to achieve them instead of sitting there and looking at websites that are telling you “not yet, you still haven’t made it”. Don’t escape to some future where you’re sailing from island to island on your yacht in Croatia instead of dealing with stuff in the present. If you can swing Croatia, awesome! If you need to take care of business at home, do that and do it well.