The Benefits of a Bucket List

guy having an adventure on a mountain

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It’s important to take time for things you enjoy in life—doing things you enjoy can make you feel energized and more relaxed at the same time, and help to keep burnout at bay. Traditional vacations bring important benefits for stress management and life satisfaction, but for those who can’t spare the time or expense for a week-long trip, "staycations" are a viable alternative.

Fitting more hobbies and fun into your lifestyle can bring a significant payoff as well. One fun and effective strategy for ensuring that you take the time you need for the "more fun things" in life (as well as some important goals you may have) is to create a "bucket list"—or several.

The idea behind a bucket list is, as they state in the movie with the same title, to create a list of things you hope to do before you "kick the bucket." But you can also use the idea for any deadline—say, a list of things you wish to do before you enter your next decade of life, or before the summer ends. Creating a bucket list can benefit you in several ways.

Getting in Touch With Your Values

When you make a list of all the things you’d like to do, this activity may be a springboard to becoming more aware of what’s really important to you. When you start thinking about what you really want to do, you can find perspective on how you are currently spending your time, and on what you’d like to be doing.

The tie and energy for things that really matter to you aren’t eaten up by the time you put into the things that matter less. Making a bucket list can help you remember what you value the most.

Remembering Your Goals

When we feel we have lots of time ahead of us—a new summer, a new year, a whole lifetime—we may think about what we’d like to do with it. Then, “real life” takes over, and we may focus more on our day-to-day goals and less on our goals for fun, excitement, stress relief, or on our long-term goals.

Creating a bucket list can keep us in touch with these goals we have and can help us keep track of them as we plan them into our lives and check them off upon completion.

Getting Creative

Nothing gets creative juices flowing like a good brainstorming session. Creating a bucket list can help you tap into the creative part of you that dreams bigger, nurtures your inner child, and makes life more worthwhile. Once you’ve put your creative side into play by creating the bucket list, your everyday self can stay inspired to put those dreams and plans into action.

Enjoying Life

Simply creating the list can be fun. Sharing your list with others, revisiting your list over time, and checking off your experiences as you collect them, can all be ways to enjoy life more, and share the fun.

Keeping Track of Peak Experiences

Creating a bucket list can be inspirational. While you may not complete every item on your list, you will likely complete some, and get more out of your life than if you hadn’t created the list. These are the experiences you may remember the most in life, that may change who you are in a positive way.

However you use your bucket lists, they can be a positive experience that can be utilized to fit your needs. Creating a bucket list can also relieve stress and enhance your life.

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.