The idea of the bucket list was popularized in the 2007 film of the same name.  The “bucket list” refers to things we want to do before we “kick the bucket”–positive, life-enhancing things. The film features Morgan Freeman (Carter)and Jack Nicholson (Edward) as two older men who have nothing in common except the fact that they are both terminally ill.  As their initial animosity slowly evolves into friendship, Edward talks Carter into ditching the hospital and doing the things each of them had always wanted to do but put off until “someday in the future”.

The term has become an integrated element in our American culture.  Almost everyone knows what it is and can describe at least a few things that are on their personal bucket list. Our bucket lists are filled with our dreams and fantasies, things we want to see and do while we are still alive and well enough to enjoy them.  Naturally, the concept of the bucket list is intimately tied up with concepts of aging and mortality.

The idea of bringing these dreams to fruition–living our unlived lives–can create a sense of inspiration, energy, and meaning in your life when all feels hopeless and futile. By embracing our limited time to be alive in these particular bodies and life circumstances we can make the most of these precious resources:  Even if we are limited and unable to do all of the things we might want, we are alive and can have some of those experiences.


Some questions to think about:

  • Do you have a bucket list?
  • What is on your list and why?
  • Is there a difference between the things you want to do and things that are actually on the list? What is the difference?
  • How many of those dreams have you already been able to do?
  • Which of the things on your list are you still intent on experiencing?
  • What holds you back from actualizing these goals? What are you afraid of?
  • In what ways might the concept of having a bucket list be helpful in your life and are there ways it might be unhelpful?
  • Is there anyone you know who is doing an especially good job of fulfilling their list?

All rights reserved © 2020 Beth Firestein, Ph.D.                    Wise Women Group