Is there any value to a bucket list?

The first time I made a bucket list–which I always insisted on simply calling a life list–I was about 12-years-old.

I almost certainly got the idea to write down my life goals from Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Dr. Laura Schlessinger– all of whom I paid attention to at that age.

And so I wrote up a mission statement for my life (which I still have memorized) and wrote down a long list of all the goals I could possibly dream of.

Over the years I kept adding to it until the list became about 190 items long with the note: “To be always continued… As long as I have breath, I will live with passion and purpose.”

The items were listed in no particular order, although the fact that “Eat Greek Salad in Greece” was number one indicates how highly enthusiastic I was about that one.

Some goals were quite serious (e.g., 3. Make and honour a lifelong commitment , 23. Never be “too busy” for people, 55. Speak in front of 1,000 people or more about something important, etc.).

Some goals were quite civic and reflected my early passion for politics and history (e.g,. 28. Vote in every election in which I am eligible, 49. Visit New York and the United Nations Headquarters building, 31. Put a poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument on Remembrance Day in Ottawa, 101. Visit Fort McMurray, etc.).

Others would seem to defy clear categorization (32. Buy lemonade from any entrepreneurial kids who set up a stand outside, 71. Go to a Catholic mass in at least ten different languages, 78. Serve prisoners, 127. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon, etc.).

While I reflect back with gratitude on having had the opportunity to fulfill many of my childhood and teenage goals for my life, I distinctly remember the first time I called into question the idea of having this list.

I was in Europe, surely checking off many goals from my list, when I finally decided to ask, “God, what’s your list for my life?”

Immediately, I had the sense that God’s answer was, simply, “It’s shorter and it’s harder.”

I found this a point of clarity and consolation. And while it didn’t make me scrap my list altogether, it certainly brought into view the proverb: “The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.” (Proverbs 19:21)


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