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January 1st is often a time for reflections and resolutions

The first of January often means many people reflect on the last year and make resolutions for the next. While reflecting, this may bring up regrets or even thoughts about topics previously not at the forefront of their minds. Be honest about your current self- are you satisfied with how your life has been so far? If you seem stuck with long hours of work, not knowing what to do, or dissatisfied in general, then it might be time to contemplate your ultimate goals.

In my role as a death doula, I often hear people express regrets about things they wanted to accomplish before they die. The 2007 movie The Bucket List started a sociological movement with many people reflecting on their own mortality. As much as we want to avoid the grim thought of dying, you can’t deny that it will happen eventually. Unless you want to end up getting old without doing the things you wanted to achieve, try creating a bucket list instead. There is still so much the world can offer for you out there.

The Bucket List movie resonated with many people and is credited with inspiring the public to make their own life lists and start tackling some of their own goals now, instead of waiting for “the right time.”

This movie starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. They go skydiving, drive a vintage Shelby Mustang and Dodge Challenger around California Speedway, fly over the North Pole, eat dinner at Chevre d'or, visit the Taj Mahal, ride motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, attend a lion safari in Tanzania, visit Mount Everest and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

An interesting on-line article I read “How the Bucket List Film May Change Your Life & Make You Happier” highlights the importance of bucket lists. “There is plenty of research about why we should have a life list and make goal accomplishment a priority if we want to be happier. Dr. Michael B. Frisch of Baylor University created Quality of Life Therapy & Coaching, a scientific approach to becoming happier by setting goals in the 16 areas of life that matter most to you. He says that a life list is one of the best ways we can establish our priorities and experience the spillover effect of joy from one area of life to another. Dr. Laura King of the University of Missouri won the Templeton Prize for her contributions to Positive Psychology, and much of her research has focused on the power of goals to create and sustain well-being….Dr. King noted her continuing surprise that, given their importance, people don’t always set goals. In an interview, she stressed the importance of bidding farewell to our “Lost Possible Selves” — or the people we once thought we’d be — in order to engage in life in a fresh way with more relevant goals. Dr. King believes that writing down our goals even once, possibly in a life list, can have the result of giving us more hope, less goal conflict, and more engagement in life.”

The article concludes with this advice “Start with the inspiration derived at the theatre. Bucket List has the power to change your life and your well-being, if you are open and daring and willing to go outside your comfort zone.”  

The bucket list of every person is different based on their interests. The bucket list can be on travel, food, entertainment, or anything that you can think of.

Even the Dalai Lama, in his 19 “instructions for life,” seems to bless the notion of embracing life lists that involve taking actions and taking risks.  His first instruction is: “Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.” Number 16 is: “Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.”   


What is holding you back from completing your bucket list?

•        Time?

•        Finances?

•        Fear?

•        Health or mobility issues?

According to the author Bronnie Ware, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  was the most common regret of all the end-of-life clients she worked with. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”


The 2007 movie isn’t the only movie to address such a topic. A Matter of Life and Death is a fantasy-romance film about a man who was supposed to die but didn’t. Instead, he is caught in limbo between heaven and earth. He must prove his case in heaven to come back to earth. This is a story about second chances and living your life with purpose. 

Now is Good is a story of a girl who has a terminal illness but decides to fulfill her bucket list before she passes away. This is a movie that serves as a reminder to all of us that we aren’t promised tomorrow, and that we should live every single day like it may be our last. 

Regardless of your age- get out there and live your life. It is never too late to start or to change direction. Create a tiny bucket list (of fun activities or new skills or new things to try) to last you until the end of this calendar year and cross things off it at least weekly. You don’t need to go to extremes like the characters do in the movie The Bucket List. Define your values and determine the role you wish to have in your life. Take the steps necessary to make improvements to lead you to the next stage in your journey.

As I state on my website- I wish you “a life well-lived and a death well-planned”.

Sources 25+ Best Movies About Death and Grief by Sheree McDonald, BA, MA Contributing writer Updated 5/31/2022

Source: How The Bucket List Film May Change Your Life & Make You Happier 





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