What I Learned From Having a Bucket List

bucket list 5

Back in 2013, I created a huge bucket list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. It pushed me to really think about what I wanted to accomplish in my life – from new skills I wanted to learn to more meaningful experiences I wanted to have. And I’ve had a lot of fun crossing things off.

But my deadline for finishing the list actually passed several months ago on September 27, and I’ve been meaning to properly write about my experience. Here are the top three lessons I’ve learned in the last three years of keeping a bucket list.

1. Dare to dream..

First things first, I have to admit that 101 goals are a lot to keep track of at, and as with all looming to-do lists, it’s been hard to stay consistent and diligent. But even though there are still lots of things undone, I’ve made some unforgettable memories along the way:

Traveling through Europe. Re-connecting with a childhood friend. Taking a trip to Jamaica after more than 7 years of being away from my first home. Hosting friends for New Year’s Eve.

The things that were easiest to complete gave me a window into what’s most important to me: Travel, always travel. And spending time with the people I love.

A lot of things, especially traveling, seemed like pipe dreams when I first included them on the list. But, as Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Somehow, by putting down my intentions on paper (or typing them here, rather), I spoke them into existence.

2. Nothing has to be set in stone.

Admittedly, there were things on the list that I kept pushing off, and half-way through I realized they actually didn’t mean that much to me anymore.

Like going to Coachella. (Sure, I wouldn’t say no to the opportunity, but it’s not something I would go out of my way to do.) Or growing my hair out. (In fact, earlier this summer, I cut it to the shortest it’s ever been in my life!)

Many bucket lists read the same – from skydiving to seeing the Eiffel Tower. It’s fine to take inspiration from others to start, but as you learn more about yourself, there’s no shame in changing your goals to suit your interests.

Most importantly, evaluate once in a while to make sure you’re working toward something you really want and that you’re not living someone else’s dreams.

3. Goals give you a reason to move forward.

Here’s another quote from The Alchemist: “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

I’ve been thinking about whether I want to create a new list for the next three years, and I’m leaning towards yes. I want to finish all of the things I still care about but never got around to doing. And I want to document my journey more closely here on this blog.

I can without a doubt say that creating this list has been the impetus for most of the amazing this that have happened in my life over the last few years. In the moments when I otherwise might have felt lost or unsure of what to do next, review the list never failed to give me a kick in the butt.

My life would be nothing without goals – they’re how I make sense of the world around me. They’re what keep me going.

Your bucket list doesn’t need to be nearly as long.. although coming up with a 100 things is half the fun! But whatever it means to you, I’d recommend that everyone keep a list of things they want to do. If you have one, I’d love to read it.

You can link to it in the comments below or find me on social media:

Facebook . Instagram . Twitter . Snapchat (@jhaneelmarie) . YouTube 




  1. jmkanter
    April 29, 2016 / 12:21 am

    Can’t wait to see where you go next!

    • May 23, 2016 / 2:53 pm

      I’m looking for the next adventure now that I have a little more free time!

  2. Shannelle
    February 17, 2016 / 11:19 pm

    Yes, Miss Richardson’s class 🙂

  3. February 3, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    really like how this was written:) I just followed you ! this post was so much fun to read . have a good day 🙂

    • February 4, 2016 / 11:08 am

      Thank you! You too!

  4. Shannelle
    February 2, 2016 / 5:59 pm

    Hi Jhaneel! It’s great to see you’re still writing so well…since the days of English class 🙂 This has inspired me to try to make a list. Not sure if I’ll do one that lengthy or just take it in phases. Let’s see how that goes.

    • February 4, 2016 / 11:10 am

      Hi Shannelle! Is this the Shannelle from Ms. Richardson’s class?? Great to hear from you and thanks for checking out the post! Good luck with the list!

    • February 2, 2016 / 2:23 pm

      Thanks so much, Brianne!

  5. February 1, 2016 / 4:46 pm

    Love that point about the easier things giving insight to the things that are most important to you. Great tip!

    • February 1, 2016 / 7:03 pm

      Thanks for reading, Juni! That’s definitely been the case for me with this list.

  6. February 1, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    This seems like such a great way to stay motivated to keep moving forward in life. Though I don’t think I could manage a list that long, the things you learned have definitely impacted the way I think about goal setting. Great post!

    • February 1, 2016 / 1:07 pm

      Thanks for reading, Loony! It can definitely get overwhelming so I try to focus on a few at a time and make them fun. But even ONE goal a year is great to have!

      • February 1, 2016 / 2:55 pm

        No worries! Focusing on one goal at a time seems to work for me, but I didn’t really know how changing it up and adapting my goals would work out – seems like a good way to stay on track.

  7. February 1, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    I’m working on my 101 list now, so it’s good to have your perspective. I think it was a great exercise to think more broadly about the things I want to do, but I’m not going to stress over certain things if they don’t get done.

    • February 1, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      That’s a great approach. You definitely don’t want to end up having it be more work than fun! And I’m glad you found this helpful. I’ll check yours out.

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