5 Tips for Writing a Reverse Bucket List

Health, Mind

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” -Anatole France

Photo by Paul Ziska

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography

Many of us, at one point or another, create a Bucket List – a roster of dreams and audacious goals we hope to achieve one day. By writing them down we make them real, and checking an item off the list feels so, so good.

But what if your Bucket List was made up of amazing milestones you had already achieved, instead of things you wanted to?

I first came across the idea of a Reverse Bucket List on Adventure Inspired. I decided to publish my list and was blown away by the positive response from readers, many who set off to write their own.

A sample from Meghan's reverse bucket list.

Benefits of Writing a Reverse Bucket List

At first it sounded like a fun, perhaps silly, activity, but the process of writing my reverse list had a profound impact on me. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • It gives you the chance to reflect positively on the past, and acknowledge how important certain milestones were to the direction of your life.
  • It gets you thinking deeply about the events and accomplishments that left you feeling happy and fulfilled.
  • You might realize that the things you have already accomplished aren’t things you would have put on a Bucket List to begin with. Life is full of surprises!
  • Reflecting on past accomplishments can make future goals seem that much more attainable.
  • Reading it afterwards provides an instant pick-me-up when you’re feeling discouraged. It will remind you that you are capable of so many amazing things!

5 Tips for Writing Your Reverse Bucket List

1. Choose your timeline.

It’s up to you how far back you want to go when selecting items from your list. One year, five years, ten years…it’s up to you! Doing one on an annual basis is a great way to kick off the New Year.

2. Look at all aspects of your life.

It’s easy to overlook certain accomplishments and milestones. Not all Bucket List items need to be adventurous pursuits! What wellness practices did you successfully incorporate? Was there a negative work environment you chose to leave? Maybe you learned how to can foods from your garden?

3. Acknowledge your attempts.

Richelle E. Goodrich said,The reason people fail to reach their goals is because they give up too early; they don’t understand that most successes are built upon foundations of multiple attempts.” Don’t be afraid to include efforts you’re proud of, even if you didn’t succeed.

4. Categorize items.

See a running theme with some of your selected milestones? To simplify things a bit, you could bunch them together. For example, if your goal was to travel abroad once per year and you’ve done just that, lump your travel accomplishments into one instead of itemizing each individual trip (unless, of course, you want to!).

5. Keep in mind that what you do doesn’t define you.

Your accomplishments are something to be proud of but they do not determine your value. Your Reverse Bucket List should make you feel motivated and inspired to be the person you want to be.

So, what do you think? Ready to write your own? If you need help getting started, check out these sample Reverse Bucket Lists on The Campsite, Adventure Inspired and Rockies Girl.

We all deserve a great big pat on the back.

Last modified: September 5, 2015

4 Responses to :
5 Tips for Writing a Reverse Bucket List

  1. Dee Medcalf says:

    I love this Meghan! A great way to reflect on past accomplishments and look forward to new exciting possibilities! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Dee! Let me know if you write one – I’d love to see what you come up with.

  2. Tina says:

    This is a great idea! Looking at our past accomplishments helps propel us forward!

    1. That’s exactly the concept, Tina. It’s all about creating forward momentum, not just looking at the past and getting stuck there!

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