Category Archives: Uncategorized Posts

Posts that don’t fit anywhere else

What I hope you’ll get from this blog

For You

Dear reader,

How are you? After reading Lisa’s About page on her blog From Dream to Plan, I realized I’ve never been completely clear about what I have to offer you.

I love writing, but I don’t write this blog completely for myself. I write it for you and the other people who read it.

Here’s what I hope you’ll get from this blog.

1. Inspiration and ideas

I love the feeling I get when I accomplish a goal, whether something on the list or from another area of my life, and I hope that by sharing my enthusiasm, stories, tips, and ideas, you will take steps toward experiencing the feeling of achieving one of your goals too.

I also want to encourage your enjoyment and appreciation of life experiences both in and out of your comfort zone, and give you ideas of new things to do, whether it’s for a lazy weekend activity or a big, once-in-a-lifetime trip.

2. A new perspective on bucket listing (or someone with a similar perspective to adventure with)

I have three main principles that direct my bucket list experiences:

  1. Big or small, I like to celebrate the moments and experiences that I think are fun. While a few people have told me that some of my list items aren’t “real” bucket list experiences (I guess because they’re not wild enough), I believe that any experience someone really wants to do can be on their bucket list, regardless of how big or adventurous they seem (or don’t seem). It’s your list! Include whatever you dream up! Putting the big and small things on my list helps me remember that every moment is special, and that I don’t need big plans to make a big memory.
  2. I also believe in responsible bucket listing – no breaking the law or disrespecting other people just to do something that’s on your list. Living ethically and in line with my faith are my most important goals.
  3. Finally, bucket listing, while very exciting, isn’t the only thing or the most important thing in my life. While this means I make slower progress than those dedicated completely to bucket list activities, I appreciate having balance in my life, which gives me opportunity to have spontaneous experiences or to take a break to make sure my bucket list doesn’t become an obsession.

For those of you who feel the same, let’s do this adventure together! Sometimes it gets lonely feeling like you’re the only one. I understand that feeling, and I understand you wanting more than what you see around you. I’m excited that you’re part of this community and I look forward to getting to know you.

🙂 Shelly


The case for bucket lists: a reflection on Kel Rossiter’s op-ed

Last week an op-ed by Kel Rossiter came out in The Seattle Times, titled “The case against bucket lists.” He’s against bucket lists as he sees most people pursuing them, with his main points being that bucket lists…

  • should be only for people imminently kicking the bucket
  • define and confine us by
    • encouraging people to collect experiences as objects
    • being used like activity resumes for social status

His solution was that bucket lists shouldn’t be a list of things to get through but “a list of things that truly, deeply and authentically inspire us. Let our list be about what we want to do, see, accomplish and learn while we are alive. Beyond define, beyond confine, let our lists liberate us.”

While I react rather defensively to his title and the tone throughout the article, I mostly agree with it (though not the imminently dying part).

So let’s talk about the death issue first. It’s not a topic many people like to talk about. In fact, even saying I have a bucket list makes some people uncomfortable because it reminds them of death.

As far as I know, my death isn’t going to happen any second now. However, I’m aware (as many people are) that death is a daily possibility. I’ve had experiences with the deaths of friends and family members, and I know several people with chronic life-threatening diseases. I also have friends from around the country and the world who live or grew up in circumstances where at any moment, increasingly common violent acts end lives.

Because death is a reality, whether or not I have a doctor saying I’ll die soon, it makes sense to me to appreciate every moment and make the most of the time I’m given, no matter how long it is (I think Kel and I agree on this).

My bucket list (and the retrospective list) help me appreciate many of the things I’ve been able to do, see, and experience, and to remember the people and stories around those events. However, Kel argues that this isn’t the case for most people, that instead of appreciation, it generates “a checklist of accomplishments that can be rattled off at a cocktail party.”

He writes:

“when we begin to view experiences […] as material objects to be placed in a bucket, something of the experience itself dies. Just as you can’t put water in a bucket and call it a river, you can’t put experiences in a bucket and call it life.”

I agree, but based on the people I know, I don’t have the sense that bucket lists cause this type of thinking. Apparently, the bucket list people he meets are very different from those I meet. Those I know (and me too) don’t approach list items as one-and-done collectibles. It’s not saying you “did Seattle” because you went to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and drank coffee at the original Starbucks. It’s not doing an activity just for the sake of crossing it off the list because it’s one more thing to brag about.

Yes, sometimes you do things on the list and never do them again, for a variety of reasons. For example, racquetball was on my list (added after I met a few people who really enjoyed it and I thought it might be a good experience). I tried it once, to see what it was like, and I never plan on playing again, because I really didn’t like it. But that’s the same the approach I use when deciding to pursue recreational activities whether they’re on my list or not.

Perhaps that’s the difference – the bucket list shouldn’t be a checklist of things that’s separate from our regular lives yet somehow still represents “truly living.” Instead, it should be a part of enjoying “the liberating world of play,” as Ken writes, “that captures the individual imagination” and inspires personal growth.

I’ve had people scoff at my list because I include so many “little things” like riding in a convertible, learning to flip/twirl a pen around my fingers, or eating in a restaurant on my own. It seems to me that those are the people that Kel is upset with, the flashy goal-gathering achievers that value only big accomplishments rather than celebrate daily experiences.

My list contains both big and small goals, and only the goals that truly spark something in my mind make it to my list, regardless of whether they’re things other people think should be on there. Despite having this public goal list blog, my list is really only for me. It helps me remember the things I want to do and to keep focused on making the most of the days I have, instead of wasting time on social media or video games.

Online, I use my blog as a place to write regularly, which is my most-loved hobby, and as a way to inspire other people to achieve their dreams. In real life, while I talk about my list often, it’s usually (I’m not perfect) because I want to find common ground to start a conversation (we all have dreams and things we want to do, whether or not we have it in an official list).

My list has helped me become more confident, more open to other people, and less afraid of new experiences. When I talk with other people pursuing life goals in a similar way, they tell me about experiences that have also challenged and developed them as people.

There’s a driving force in all of us, something that pushes us to want to experience more, and more deeply. Kept within healthy boundaries, this doesn’t prevent us from experiencing life as it’s happening, but can help us to live inspired and intentional lives, not for bragging rights, but for personal growth, as Kel encourages.

So he’s not really making a case against bucket lists as the title claims. He’s just cautioning us to make sure it doesn’t become the end goal itself, or get in the way of what’s really important. And that’s definitely something we can agree on.

The Goal List: where it’s been, and where it’s headed

When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible. —Howard Schultz

[[This is a different type of post than usual, more about the process of blogging and the history of this blog than any type of goal list activity. I’d like to know what you think – please share your thoughts in the comments section.]]

I’ve struggled over the past year to really clarify for myself why I write this blog, but recently it’s come down to this:

  • I’m passionate about my bucket list, and more broadly than that, goal-setting and accomplishment, and it makes me really happy when I see other people making and achieving goals of their own
  • I’m already in the habit of writing in my goal list journals about the moment/process of accomplishing each goal, and I talk about it a lot in person, so it’s a very natural transition for me to write about it online
  • I love writing in all forms, but blogging is special because it allows me to connect with people who understand this aspect of my life that I’ve had few people in real life “get” (see quote above). I want to create a place where other people are able to feel that same sense of understanding and encouragement
  • Sharing resources and amplifying/spreading enthusiasm about goal achievement are two things that I automatically do and make me happy

My original inspiration for starting the blog was a mix of wanting attention, an unquenchable desire to write, and my friends saying “You should start a blog.” My focus has expanded over the past year and a half, from only posting my stories of accomplishing goal list items (mostly poorly-written boring depictions of facts), to including a few resources, quotes, and stories of other inspiring bucket listers.

After six months of blogging, I started doing interviews with other bucket list bloggers and soon also added the mini-interview series called Everyone Has a Story. Both interview series grew, and I’ve been able to interview entrepreneurs, bloggers, an author, a photographer, an artist, and many other people who consider themselves “normal” or “boring” people but are actually very interesting and inspiring. (Shameless plug: everyone really does have a story – if you’re willing to be interviewed, please let me know!) Three months after that, I added a travel section (pretty fun to write). I also took two different month-long breaks this year, as I tried to get focused, manage stress, and renew my enthusiasm for blogging in general.

After a lot of reflection, I realize that I like blogging too much to let it go, so you’ll continue seeing posts from me. 🙂 But I also know that there are a lot of things I’d like to see happen in the next few months, so expect some minor (and maybe some major) changes. As always, I appreciate your feedback. If you really enjoy a certain part of this blog and want to see it stay, let me know. And if something here really bothers you, let me know that too. I’m not going to promise to make everyone happy but I do take feedback into consideration.

For now, here are some of my dreams for this blog:

  • More interviews – I hit a little bit of a dry spell finding interviewees! If you’ve been inspired by someone and want to see them featured on this site, nominate them to be interviewed
  • More “Goal Accomplished” posts – because I like sharing the things I’ve done, since I know many of us have goals in common. I will continue to share resources specific to these goals to help you get your list done also, and I’m working on writing the posts in a more interesting way ;P
  • More travel – travelling is on so many people’s bucket lists, and I want to share stories, resources, tips, and must-see/do lists of places I (or other people) have visited
  • Increased Facebook community – it’s a poorly-kept secret! The Goal List is on Facebook. I didn’t widely announce it yet because I wanted to figure out what I was doing with it first, but I’m sharing it now, and if you want to head over there and let me know what you’d want to see out of a bucket list-focused Facebook page, that would really help me figure out which direction to take it.
  • Retrospective bucket list – inspired by Wise Monkeys Abroad, I’m creating a list of things that would have gone on my list had I not done them already

What have you enjoyed so far about this blog? How has it helped you reach your goals?

This post is a result of my participation in Daily Post’s Blogging 101 course, which I’m taking to improve my skills, reach my blogging goals, and bring you a better blog! Stay tuned for more posts and changes