By now, you’ve heard of bucket lists. In fact, the term seems to be a bit overused. Have you heard of a reverse bucket list? It’s a feel-good exercise that requires you to list items that you have already accomplished.
Jump ahead to these sections:
It’s a great idea because it forces you to show gratitude for what you have experienced and pride for what you have accomplished.
What’s an Anti-Bucket List?
Now, have you heard of an anti-bucket list? This latest trend asks people to create a list of things they hope never to experience. It could also be called “things I would like to avoid at all costs.”
Why would anyone want to create such a list?
For one thing, it forces you to ask questions about yourself. What things do you want to avoid in your 70, 80, or 90 years here?
Creating this list also forces you to think of behaviors or actions you want to avoid. You could also call this list “mistakes I do not want to make.”
Finally, you can learn a lot about what you do want by thinking about what you don’t want. Let’s go over some examples.
Anti-Bucket List Ideas
Just like when you create a bucket list, writing an anti-bucket list is highly personal. Bungee jumping may be on your friend’s bucket list but it may be on your anti-bucket list.
What would you include on your anti-bucket list? Here are some ideas to get started.
1. Go through a divorce
Perhaps you’ve witnessed a nasty divorce between friends or family members. This may inspire you to do all you can to never be in that situation.
The tricky thing about this anti-bucket list item is that both partners need to have it on the list for it to mean anything.
2. Go into credit card debt
Pay off your credit card balance at the end of each month and sign up for the discounts and perks that go with it.
3. Learn how to do your own plumbing
Sometimes you need to hire a professional. You need to find a good dentist and lawyer and a great plumber.
4. Become addicted to _______.
You can fill in the blank at the end of this line. You may choose alcohol, gambling, narcotics, or all three.
As you add this to your anti-bucket list, consider what actions you want to avoid to keep yourself from becoming addicted.
5. Tattoo your lover’s name on your body
Your new partner does not want to be reminded of your ex every time he or she looks at your body. Even the best tattoo artist would not be able to turn “Brad” into “Johnny” or “Priscilla” into “Kate.”
6. Be estranged from your parents (or your kids)
Sure, your parents (and kids) probably annoy you. That’s their job. But saying or doing something that ruins your relationship might be one of the biggest mistakes of your life.
7. Wait to have a perfect house to have guests
Your friends have stained carpet and dog hair on the furniture. Even if your friend’s house is perfect, he or she probably doesn’t care about the condition of yours. Invite your friends over for dinner. Order pizza if you can’t cook.
8. Ignore the stories of my grandparents and parents
Force yourself to pay attention to your grandpa’s long, rambling stories. There are nuggets of gold within those diatribes.
You may have to filter through lots of boring recollections but the good stories weave their way through the dull stuff. Once you uncover a good story, write it down so you don’t forget it.
9. Binge-watch TV shows every night
You may be guilty of watching too much TV during periods of bad weather or during a pandemic, but no one wants to consciously make a habit of that.
If you can name the winner of every season of “The Bachelor,” you may be watching too much TV.
10. Hang out with toxic people
Do your friends make you feel good about yourself? Or do you come home from spending time with them and have negative thoughts about your spouse, your kids, or your career? Don’t hang out with people who always complain and are cynical about life.
11. Go skydiving
Does anyone really like to go skydiving, or do they want to brag about having done it? If the only reason you have something on your bucket list is so you can post about it on social media, is it really worth the expense and hassle?
12. Have a collection
Every once in awhile, you may think, “I really like _____. Maybe I should collect those!” Keep this in mind: Collections sometimes become burdens, and your kids may not want your collections after you die.
13. Live in chaos and mess
Minimalists should be admired. More stuff complicates life and causes people to live cluttered lives.
14. Fight with siblings
Life is too short to fight with those closest to you. Every time your sister picks a fight, use all the willpower you have to take the high road or simply walk away from the situation.
15. Quit learning
How sad it would be to lose your curiosity about the world. Someone once said that when you quit learning, you die. This sounds about right.
16. Buy low-quality bedding
Why anyone would choose to spend eight hours a day in sheets that feel like plastic is preposterous. Life is way too short for 150 thread count sheets.
17. Wait until the right time to travel
There is no right time to go on vacation. You can always find an excuse not to go somewhere. But if you wait until retirement to travel, you may have to contend with rotten knees and bad backs — or you might not make it at all.
18. Ignore injustice in the world
You are only one person, but we have seen throughout history what one person can do when fighting against oppression, intolerance, and racism.
Those amazing people who fought for what was right did much more than post memes on Facebook.
19. Not stop to see the beauty in the world
Even though there is oppression, intolerance, and racism in the world, there is also beauty. It’s everywhere. Every natural landscape has beauty but you may have to look hard to see it.
It can be found in the rolling plains full of green pastures, and it can be found in the wrinkled hand of a grandparent. Beauty can be found in a sunset over the ocean or a child doing what is right.
20. Spending time in constant worry
Shel Silverstein wrote a poem called “Whatif.” It describes a young person trying to sleep when a “whatif” crawled into his ear and kept him awake with a laundry list of bad things that could happen. As you go through your day, is a “whatif” sitting on your shoulder? Kick “whatif” to the curb.
21. Have a bad relationship with your in-laws
Let’s face it. Your significant other’s family does things weird. They don’t celebrate holidays as your family does.
They have strange traditions and their inside jokes aren’t funny. Regardless of all their weirdness, having a poor relationship with your in-laws complicates your life. You may have to accept their weirdness or even celebrate it.
22. Equate busyness with a productive life
Having a packed calendar does not mean you have a productive, meaningful life. When a pandemic forces you to empty your schedule, you can suddenly see how unnecessary some of those meetings, gatherings, and activities were.
23. Ignore your health
You know that it is vital to move your body every day, but it is easy to find excuses.
24. Read poorly written books
People who say classics are boring haven’t read enough. They think that the key to a good book is being surprised at the end of it.
25. Become irritated with the younger generation
You are officially old and cranky if you find yourself complaining about the younger generation’s music, technology, attitude, or clothing.
26. Buy cheap shoes
Younger people would rather have more pairs of cheap shoes instead of fewer pairs of quality shoes.
27. Eat processed cheese
Processed cheese does have its place on occasion. It’s good for nachos and for tricking dogs into eating their pills.
28. Ignore your spiritual life
None of us will escape death. Have you thought about what happens on the other side?
What Would You Put on Your Anti-Bucket List?
As you can see, an anti-bucket list is intensely personal. Writing one forces you to analyze your life to see how it is going.
Are you looking for similar activities? Why not write a letter to your future self, write your own obituary, or preplan your own funeral?