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I had never really thought about why a bucket list was called a bucket list.
But duh, it’s a list of things you want to do before you, well, kick the bucket. And they can be really inspiring because they encourage you to leave your comfort zone, and they allow you to outline your life goals. But sometimes, they can make you feel a little bad about yourself, can’t they? You write them when you’re all motivated as heck but then you lose steam when you look at it and see all those things you have yet to accomplish. That’s where something called the reverse bucket list comes in.
Related: How to Make a 30 Before 30 List
It’s not at all bad to have a list of things you want to accomplish. But, in order to counteract the bad feelings that might come with not achieving those goals, you should have a reverse bucket list as well. A reverse bucket list is a powerful exercise in gratitude that reminds you of what you’ve already accomplished. It helps you practice being able to call on good thoughts. That trait comes in very handy when it comes time to solve problems or be the force of light in a dark situation. Studies have proven that this works, and the reverse bucket list is often used in practicing mindfulness.
I thought this would be a good exercise to practice at Uninspired because you’re already all experts at planning ahead. That’s what your entire twenties are based on– planning the rest of your lives. So for once, I wanted to give you the chance to focus on all that you’ve already accomplished. You are awesome, and this list will remind you of that.
So, here’s how you make a reverse bucket list.
First, I’d suggest looking at some other ones for inspiration. You might not realize how many awesome things you’ve done until you see what other people think is awesome. For example, I live a 30-minute train ride from New York City. But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to have been to Broadway, Rockefeller Center at Christmas or the Empire State Building. Those places are at the top of some people’s bucket lists! So if you’re feeling uhh… uninspired (you’re starting to see it coming now, aren’t ya?) maybe check out someone else’s reverse bucket list.
Beyond that, just let the inspiration flow! For some people who practice gratitude often, it may be easy to just make a list. But if you’re new to this, associative brainstorming might help. That’s when you come up with some obvious ones, and then use those ideas to come up with new ones. For example, one of my reverse bucket list items is graduating from college. I associated that with accomplishments like being the president of an organization, being on the deans list, being admitted to graduate school, etc. Mapping them out visually on a web might be helpful too!
So, I think that should be enough to get you started! Use my list for inspiration, and if you’re stuck, feel free to chat with me in the comments or via email. I love instilling hope in others, and I really believe in the power of this exercise. Good luck!
Nicole’s Reverse Bucket List:
- Went to prom (it’s terrible)
- Graduated from high school (it’s great)
- Graduated with honors from college- the first person in my family!
- Got accepted to graduate school- the only one I applied to!
- Was the president of a school organization
- Worked on several academic research projects I’m passionate about
- Had drinks with a professor- two of them actually! One undergrad and one grad. This one was really on my regular bucket list.
- Presented research at two national conferences
- Paid for my own classes
- Was inducted into Psi Chi, the psychology honors fraternity
- Crashed a fraternity formal
- Started a blogging business
- Published a short story in a magazine
- Started work in my field, marriage and family therapy!
- Made a difference for a family in need
- Worked at a Head Start preschool in Philly where I learned more from the children than they learned from me
- Wore a giant sandwich suit when I worked at Subway. Not one of my passion projects but still a crazy memory.
- Learned how to use a DSLR camera
- Learned how to use Photoshop and Lightroom
- Practiced my photography skills at the Met in New York City
- Saw Grease on Broadway
- Ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square
- Saw the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center (didn’t get to ice skate though!)
- Visited Boston. It’s such a beautiful city. I’d take it over NYC any day!
- Saw the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Arlington Cemetery and more in Washington DC.
- Was disappointed in the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (it’s so small!)
- Knocked 12 states off the “To Visit” list!
- Saw the Hollywood sign and Disneyland in California
- Road-tripped with my friend to buy a tax-free DSLR in Delaware
- Visited Disney World in Florida
- Ate alligator meat in Florida. (It tastes EXACTLY like chicken. Freaked me out.)
- Drank at Seacrets in Ocean City, Maryland, one of the most famous bars in the USA
- Was absolutely eaten alive by no-seeums in the Outer Banks, North Carolina
- Lived in another state by myself- Pennsylvania
- Attended a creative writing conference in Houston Texas (and lived with complete strangers for five days!)
- Visited five other countries so far
- Rode the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls
- Been on cruises where I was able to feed fish in Bermuda, snorkel in the Bahamas, and ride a wave runner in Mexico
- Gambled and partied in Atlantic City (and met Dennis Rodman but that’s a story for another day)
- Learned to crochet
- Held a skunk
- Experienced heartbreak
- Fell in love again after experiencing heartbreak
- Became friends with someone I thought I’d hate.
- Kissed a stranger
- Sang on stage by myself
- Went paddle boarding in the ocean
- Learned to speak Italian
- Completed genogram of my family and learned a ton about who I am
- Got in touch with relatives who live in Italy
- Found an amazing group of girl friends after resigning myself to being better at friendships with guys
What’s on your reverse bucket list?