Tidying Up The Bucket List: Deciding What We Really Want
by Carl Greer
Many people have a bucket list of things they want to make sure they experience in this life. Tidying up that bucket list when it no longer reflects a person’s values and deepest desires makes sense.
When reviewing our bucket list, we might feel inadequate or embarrassed because we haven’t accomplished what we thought we would. It’s okay if a goal is no longer as exciting as it once was. Guilt, frustration or embarrassment about what’s been lingering on a bucket list for years might be signs that it’s time to dream different dreams.
What’s on a bucket list might have been based on a need to prove ourselves to others. If we no longer feel the need to impress people or win their approval, we can move on to new goals. Maybe our family has always talked about traveling to the land of our ancestors as an important thing to do someday, but we don’t feel the same way. We might prefer to travel someplace where we can swim with dolphins or meet people from a completely different culture than our own. Releasing the weight of having a bucket list heavy with other people’s expectations can help us feel much lighter.
Maybe those bucket list items still spark some excitement, but it’s time to change the form of the experience. A goal to write a novel might turn into a goal to write our life story and turn it into a book. A goal to marry again might become a promise to ourselves to enjoy life with a new romantic partner, regardless of whether that leads to marriage someday.
As we go down our bucket list reviewing each item, we can acknowledge which goals still inspire us and which make us feel dispirited. Tidying up a bucket list written in the past can be a good exercise in becoming more conscious of what we want to experience and why—and what dreams we are ready to release—because we have new aspirations now. If we’re spending our time doing what gives us a sense of vitality, happiness and well-being and there is something we haven’t done that generates a feeling of joy and anticipation, it should go at the top of our bucket list—and we should find a way today to start making it happen.
Carl Greer, Ph.D., Psy.D., is a practicing clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst and shamanic practitioner. He teaches at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and is on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being, in Chicago.