Rebranding the Bucket List

The “Bucket List” has a serious public relations problem! In theory, is a fabulous concept- do all the things you ever wanted to do before you die.

In reality, Hollywood has given us this version of it where we are faced with a shortened timeline for our life and then we cram in a bunch of wild and crazy things that we never got to do.  It is a bit misleading to the average person.

First, it gives us the illusion that we have all the time in the world- because we’re all going to live to be 112, right?  We procrastinate because we believe we will fit things in eventually because of an abundance of all this time. There are also those among us who are afraid of kicking said bucket and choose to ignore their list as if it will hasten their demise. .

Second, this glamorized version assumes too much.  It assumes we have never done anything wild and/or crazy.  It assumes we want to be wild and crazy.  It also assumes we have been living uninteresting lives up to this point.

Third, it ignores the fact that most people faced with a shortened life would fill the time left spending it with people they love.  I personally would want to have my dinner table filled with my friends and family laughing my butt off while I still had the time.

Hollywood’s version just makes me kind of sad.

Let's focus on how to make our lives more fulfilled instead of working towards our end game. Click To Tweet

What if we just redressed the bucket list and gave it a new name?

I have lots of things I want to do before I die, but what if we focus this new brand around living rather than dying?  Let’s focus on how to make our lives more fulfilled instead of working towards our end game.  My theory is that if we did that, many more people would be working on their list.  We need to come up with a snappy name.  Bucket list is indeed snappy and it has what advertisers call “stickiness”.  A replacement name should be just as snappy.  Somehow “Do This or Regret it Later List” or “My Future Accomplishments List” just don’t have the right pizzazz.

When I was a teenager the Bucket List had not been coined yet.  I had a list I called “Get it done!” (this was also before Larry the Cable Guy had created his very famous and similar catch phrase). More recently I came up with “Queen Anna the Magnificent’s List of Future Fabulous Adventures” but that is a mouthful.   So I have shortened it to the “Fabulous List”. Feel free to use it or come up with a new name that fits you.

[Side note:  Queen Anna the Magnificent was a nickname given to me by a friend of the family and while somewhat pretentious if used in public, who doesn’t want to be queen?  I’m keeping it.]

Then what?

So, if we rebrand this concept and color it with a more positive outlook and give it a new name, then what? There is a lot of scientific proof that positive attitudes and outlooks affect better outcomes.  So let’s try that science on ourselves and do our own experiments.  Let’s write our own Fabulous List from our new perspective and see what happens.  The worst thing that could happen is nothing.  The best thing is that we are checking off items on our list on a regular basis.

I am scrapping my current list, re-evaluating, and starting from scratch.  A good portion of it was originally made when I was a teenager and then added to but some if it just isn’t that important to me anymore.  For instance, getting a motorcycle that I can actually drive (this is an important distinction for someone who logs in at a vertically challenged 4’ 11”) and going on a cross country road trip needs to be modified.  I still want to go on the trip, but my longing for a motorcycle has been eclipsed by other things.  Now, if this motorcycle somehow magically showed up I certainly wouldn’t turn it down, but I’ve discovered other interesting things that I’d rather strive for instead.

Making your list

I challenge you to start over with your list.  If you do, keep in mind that this is your list.  It doesn’t have to be wild and crazy unless you are longing for wild and crazy.  It has to be what you want.  It can be as big or as small as you want.  It can be a list of places to go or things to do or experiences to have.  Take ownership of it and have fun! Post it where you can see it and modify and add as needed.

Here are the first 10 things on my Fabulous List.  As you can see, it is uniquely me (notice that there is no mention of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane).  Not everyone is going to be inspired by the same things. I keep a copy in my cabinet in my office that I see on a regular basis and it reminds me of what I really want.

  • Learn glass blowing
  • Learn calligraphy
  • Take a college course on the psychology of personality
  • Go on a one month cross country trip with my husband across the United States and never get on a freeway, use backroads only
  • Take $5000 and randomly hand out $100 grocery store gift cards as people enter the store
  • Vacation in a luxury tree house in the mountains and take a stack of books with me
  • Buy season tickets to the theatre
  • Make and install decorative ceramic tiles for my bathroom
  • Reupholster a wing chair
  • Learn to write grants and help non-profits fund their endeavors


What have you named your list? What is on your list that you would like to share?


16 thoughts on “Rebranding the Bucket List

  1. Pam Zola

    Yes, Anna! “The trouble is, you think you have time.” (Budda?) I will be working on my snappy name. I can actually cross off one of the things on my list! Going to school for art. Always wanted to do it and now (at almost 50) I will be starting my classes tomorrow! Btw, glass blowing, calligraphy and traveling back roads are on my list too!!
    Looking forward to reading more of your writing! Have a great day!!

  2. Mary Grace

    Awesome concept. I agree the “bucket list” brings visions of risky behavior and much money needed. Let’s keep it real, down to earth and therefore attainable.

  3. Kristin Wong

    Great concept! I also update my list regularly. My life changes, I change, so I figure my list should change along with me. Love the idea of going on a road trip and not taking highways. 🙂

  4. Mary Ann Malloy

    Wow Anna! You really got me thinking on this subject. Since I will be retiring in 3-4 years I need to get more serious about my bucket list. One of my first things I talk about doing is going to Italy and Ireland. Maybe a month away for each. I have already been on a motorcycle to Nova Scotia and back! Beautiful place to see! Thank you so much for your inspiration. Take care! Mary Ann

  5. Teri P.

    I am starting my list and I am calling it “The Living List”. I love that you simplified the Bucket List. Over 10 years ago I had a friend whose husband was diagnosed with cancer. I presented her with a gift of a journal, two wine glasses, and a notepad. I told her to create a least with her husband of the things they wanted to see and do on the notepad and place it on their fridge. They were to continuously add to it and draw a line through the things they accomplished. The journal was to record details of their events and the wine glasses to celebrate the events. He is still here and they are still celebrating life. Love the blog. Can’t wait for more.


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