My Bucket List (Is Not Normal)

by Rachael on March 20, 2012 · 90 comments


Confession time:  I hate bucket lists.

And 30 before 30 lists, and vision boards, and any other kind of seemingly trite goal-setting vehicle.

It’s not that they aren’t worthy aspirations for one’s life. And hey, if I didn’t set deadlines, I’d never get anything done. But there’s just something about hearing someone list off a bunch of clichés like “visit six continents” and “learn two new languages” that makes me involuntarily roll my eyes and dry heave a bit.

You know what my goal is? What my vision board looks like?

Like this:

It even has buckets! (See what I did there?)

Would all the ridiculous, generic things on those lists really make you happy? Would running a marathon, just to be able to say you did, really bring you joy? A bit of pride, perhaps – (and I know there are those of you who actually do get off on running long distances, though I’ll never claim to understand you) – but setting goals like that seem more about making you feel good about trying to be a better person, than about actually enjoying life.

I hereby propose that instead of trying to climb a mountain, or read 50 books a year, or teach yourself Swahili – why not make a list for the things that actually make your life more fun? The things that actually make you happy?

I’ll go first. Here are some of my most pressing goals for the foreseeable future:

1.  Attend the Puppy Bowl. With backstage passes.

2.  Be the Bea Arthur of my own Golden Girls house one day. (Preferably with a side of Blanche.)

3.  Discover, devour and anoint the Official Most Wonderful-est Cheeseburger in all the land.

4.  Visit Cat Island in Japan.

5.  Accidentally (or by way of stalking) meet and strike up a conversation with Adam Scott, who then lets me ruffle his hair.

6.  Make a ridiculously funny person genuinely laugh, like Louis CK or Tina Fey.

7.  Have a nickname (a real one, not the fake one I tried to give myself in college. And NO, I will not tell you that story.)

8.  Continue to karaoke my heart out til the day I die.

9.  Inspire a missed connection on Craigslist.

10. Own a mini pig named Tobias. (This is my #1 goal for 2012, and yes, I’m already on a waiting list.)

Is this shallow of me? Perhaps.

I may never go skydiving, or do a triathlon, or write my memoirs.

But I will spend every minute of every day I possibly can striving to be happy, no matter what shape or form that takes. And I don’t feel bad about that. Not for one second.


1 Tom March 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm

“Confession time: I hate bucket lists.

And 30 before 30 lists, and vision boards, and any other kind of seemingly trite goal-setting vehicle.”

Isn’t that what Pinterest is?

2 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm

For some people, perhaps. It’s not for me. Like any social media platform, it is what you make of it.

3 Meghan March 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I fully support and squeal with glee re: your mini pig goal while at the same time being insanely jealous of your mini pig acquisition.

4 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Understandable on all counts. ;-)

5 Heather March 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm


6 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Haha, yay!

7 Dianna March 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Re: 2.

YES…but only if I can be Sophia. I am destined to be a bad-ass Sicilian grandma.

8 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Done and done. Now to find our Rose…

9 Lainey March 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

You know where pigs are really happy? The hill country. In a big back yard. In our amazing country house. Next door to a vineyard. Just in back of our studio. I’m just sayin….

10 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Trust me, Toby and I will be visiting often. (I wonder if you can take a pig on a plane…)

11 Mine March 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I love your bucket list. It is not, nor never will be on my bucket list to go to outer space, or eat a canoli in egypt, or visit the titanic via submarine. I have a few life goals, and a few adventurous things I’d like to do, but mainly I just want to be happy. And do things/accomplish things that will truely make me happy.

12 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Amen to that. Simple, beautiful, and attainable – ha!

13 BlackLOG March 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

My bucket list contains one thing

No. 1 Don’t kick it…

Not sure this is obtainable but I’m going to give it a good go…

I’m a bit worried about your No. 10, how bad would it be if when your mini pig turns up and he is not named Tobias??

14 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Oh, I will find Tobias, specifically. Trust me, I know he’s out there.

15 Alexandra the Tsaritsa March 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm

That is probably the best item to have on a bucket list :) Though eventually, we all have to kick it (until technology allows otherwise).

16 Kristin March 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Hmmm…well I guess this is where I comment to say that I think that (being as we are all very different people) goals/bucket lists/vision boards are all very specific to the person and I don’t think it’s fair to shoot down other peoples goals just because they seem cliched in your mind.

No matter what you call it, we all have things we want to accomplish in life. So what if they’re trite and annoying things like “climb a mountain” or “run a marathon” or “visit all six continents.” What’s so wrong with wanting to do those things? Who says that doing these things actually won’t make people happy? I make no apologies in striving to do things that millions of other people also want to do as long as it’s really something I’m interested in doing.

Running marathons and the like actually DO make me happy, but that’s because I’m very different in what I enjoy than you are. Not just because I feel like I’m trying to be a better person, but because doing things that literally push my body to the extreme make me feel alive, like I’m growing stronger, becoming more of the person I want to be. Those are the things I have found I really enjoy, things that make me smile when I’m finished, things I can enjoy with others who are pushing themselves to the limit right next to me.

We’re all on the quest to happiness but what makes it so interesting is that we all have very different paths to get there.

I’m not commenting here to rant just because I’m a marathon runner and I’m offended, I’m not at all, I totally get people not understanding distance running. I guess my point is more that we all have things we enjoy and want to accomplish, and whether it’s owning a pet pig or climbing Everest, as long as it makes us happier, then who are we to judge how cliched it is?

17 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I feel like by now you would know how I write, lady. A lot of this is facetious, and obviously I’m just expressing my own point of view. It wasn’t meant as an attack by any means – I even put a disclaimer in the post specifically for you.

18 Kristin March 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I didn’t take it as an attack at all and I wasn’t offended. Just felt the need to point out that we all have different things in life that make us happy, and it sucks to be made fun of because your goals in life aren’t as “cool” as other people’s goals.

19 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I’m not making fun of anyone – just expressing a personal preference.

20 Rafael March 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for this article, Rachel. I too grow weary of hearing and reading about all the “things” that a person must achieve by some arbitrary time in order to feel either accomplished or worthwhile.

I have seen first hand how the constant reminders of the 101 in 1001 have depleted the joy from the lives of many who set them. And made those who cannot come up with 101 things feel less worthy.

I echo the mantra of pursing happiness because is the third item in a list of freedoms granted to us by our Creator and government. And its OK to be happy with a pig in a swimming pool, or loving your job at a garage or just wanting to have children or wanting to go to Six Flags over GA more than wanting to go to the nation of Georgia.

My biggest and number one goal is to find a place to call home and settle there. I am tired of being a nomad. Everything else can fall into place behind that for all I care. :)

21 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I think that’s an absolutely lovely goal, and it’s a good feeling when you get to that place, I imagine. I myself am about to go nomadic again… ah, life!

22 A Super Girl March 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Hear, hear! I, too, hate these lists, though my reasoning stems from the fact that I can barely think about next week, much less my five year plan!

23 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

SO, so true, haha! I’m right there with you on that.

24 Elly March 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I have ‘Visit all seven contenients’ on my list. And that may not be awesome to you (with the dry heaving and all), but I’ve stood on 4 different continents so far and each different continent has shown me something new, changed my perspective somehow, and made me step up. I’ve seen the Australian Outback with their wild kangaroos, I’ve enjoyed the best snow I’ve ever snowboarded on in Canada, danced in front the pyramids in Egypt + laughed with Parisians on the Seine because my French sucks. All of these things were amazing, and each experience has shown me something phenomenal, and phenomenal things make me incredibly happy.

I know your question was rhetorical, but yeah, the experiences that the generic ‘see all seven contenients’ goal have produced have been anything but trite or cliché, and they made me more than happy. *shrug* They may not work for you, but for others they could be positively brilliant.

25 Kristin March 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Exactly what I was trying to say, but way more eloquent. Well said.

26 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm

The things you’ve listed here are specific and fascinating and interesting experiences; far more so than the vague “visiting x number of continents”. That’s an entirely different thing, to me. And yes, they all sound absolutely phenomenal, and are (individually) things I’d add to my list in a heartbeat.

Especially the kangaroos. I heart kangaroos.

27 Elly March 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I agree, they are specific experiences, but I couldn’t have named them so at the start. They are a direct result of having ‘Visit all seven continents of the world’ on my list, and when I wrote such an ambiguous goal it was because I knew each visit would be amazing, but not what exactly would make it amazing. So then, if I found the direct result of my vague goal brilliant, and it produced brilliant things, could I not call my vague goal itself also brilliant? I think it’s just that everyone has a very different perspective on what a boring or cliché goal is, or what it could produce and that’s cool. What makes me happy may not make another happy.

28 Alexandra the Tsaritsa March 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Being happy is the most important thing. I have a bunch of ideas and creative pursuits that I want to flesh out and see realized, but I’ve also never been a fan of bucket lists. Except when it comes to watching An Idiot Abroad Bucket List, that show is awesome.

29 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Never heard of it! Adding to my to do list…

30 cari March 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW did I not know about Cat Island? Time to update my Asian itinerary for the summer!

31 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm


32 Lizzie D March 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Rachael, I wholeheartedly agree — *now* is the time to live, before we all get run over by a bus (physical or metaphorical). BTW you and Toby are officially invited to come over and play with me and Spindle (my future greyhound)!

33 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Spindle!!! I die!!! Hahahaha, love it. And we shall.

34 Alex March 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Love this. Especially the last few lines. Wisdom, lady. As always.

I have two bucket lists. One is public. When I cross something off, I add something else. I also have a private bucket list that was an exercise when I was in therapy. It helped me reevaluate who I want to be and why I’d want to stick around. Depressing, yes, but it can be a valuable activity if done for the right reasons. I have things like “fall in love with the right man” and see such and such band with my BFFs in Ibiza. Yes, those things would bring me intense joy. I’ve been blessed and have been able to do so many amazing things that my bucket list includes a lot of over the top travel related things. I do agree that a lot of people’s bucket lists include superficial crap that is meaningless to their overall well being. I mean, I also have “make out with Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Leonardo DiCaprio.” Pretty ridiculous. :)

35 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

See, that’s a perfectly healthy balance. I love everything in it. Ibiza?? Bad ass. Ryan Gosling? Yes please.

36 Barbara March 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Aww the mini pig is so cute!!

37 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm


38 Valorie March 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm

God, I am so jealous you’re getting a mini pig. I mean, really. I would dress that thing up in mini rain boots all day every day. And take all the pictures of it.

I don’t know, for me, I like having the life list. While I theoretically agree with you and really just want to laugh my whole life, I also do want to be trilingual because I just think it’d be fun to be able to talk to everyone. But I know I’ll never get there if I don’t write it down.

39 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

You mean, like THIS?!?

Happening. Totally happening.

40 allison March 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Let’s be honest – I’m running my second 1/2 marathon and it’s all fun and games until you realize you want to day drink instead of train.

I would add – riding a purple unicorn. That’s right.

41 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Halves are less crazy, but still a little crazy. But that’s OK, I still love you. Especially if you find a purple unicorn for us to ride.

42 Siovhan March 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Please say your minipig is going to wear cutoffs!

43 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

But of course. He will also blue himself.

44 Kelly March 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

LOVE this.

I have a goal to do something ridiculously stupid that makes me laugh at least once every day… And I don’t care who’s watching or what they think of it. For instance, I will jump up onto the curb from the street and shout “PARKOUR!”… Because it is stupid and it cracks me up…

45 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

This is fantastic. I think I’ve been doing it involuntarily anyway, haha.

46 crazyassmomma March 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm

i think thats a pretty badass idea & list you have going on there. dont think its shallow at all.

47 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Well good! :-)

48 kelly March 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

You’re a genius. This makes me feel relieved that I don’t have to make a life list now. I didn’t really want to but it seemed like I should. Also I already did a triathlon but mainly because it was fun and also raised money for cancer research so take that bucket listers! Anyway, this is something I can definitely get behind…that’s what he said! More happy and little piglets and laughin, less feeling inadequate for not crossing things off a bucket vision board 30 list.

49 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

A-freaking-MEN to that, lady friend.

50 Paula March 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I love that we both find Louis C K so funny. That’s all. :-)

51 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Because he scientifically, mathematically, factually IS that funny. <3

52 Courtney Elizabeth March 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I see I have some competition for bedhead Adam Scott…

53 rachaelgking March 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm


54 Maureen March 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm

I can help you out with finding the most wonderful-est cheeseburger. It’s in Santa Fe (in my opinion).

And I totally want a mini pig. Oh my gosh, cute!

55 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Do tell!!

56 Maureen March 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

It’s a place called Bobcat Bite and it’s amazing!

57 Jas March 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I think you should add live metal karaoke to this list. #justsaiyan.

58 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Even the thought of metal makes me cringe. But that would make a wonderfully non-cliche addition to YOUR list. ;-)

59 christa March 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

but…but…you have a “f*cking inspiration board” on pinterest!! hahah.
i love the ‘missed connection’ one – sometimes i THINK people would post about a missed connection so i go there just to check. i should really start posting some.

60 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Hahaha, I do. I totally do. But it’s more about “kick in the ass” reminders than anything else.

61 katelin March 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm

absolutely adore this. also MINI PIG IS SO CUTE!! eeeeee!

and even though i’d probably sneeze the whole time, i would die if i went to the puppy bowl. because man that shiz is just too dang cute.

62 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I will bring you a plethora of tissues and it will be LOVELY.

63 spleeness March 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm


I MUST go.

64 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm


65 fizzgig March 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm

bucket lists, and dream boards, and goals are all about what makes you happy! I’m a fan of a dream board, having gotten on board with this (so to speak) a few years ago, and having accomplished most goals, how can I not be?

Having your goals in your face every day helps for some people who are easily sidetracked! But whether it is running a half marathon, or paying off a credit card, everyone should have goals, that’s what makes you feel accomplished!!

66 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Rock on, lady friend. I’m impressed that you’ve accomplished most of them!!

67 Mike March 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Wow that little pig is cute. I wonder if my dog would try to be it’s mom or eat it? Hmmmm….

68 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Haha, no idea, but if it’s the former it would be adorable.

69 Gretchen March 20, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I trust that you will share said cheeseburger with us whenever you find it, because I will need to eat it too.

OMG the pig.

Also added Cat Island to my Places To Go One Day list.

70 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Oh, when I find that cheeseburger, the whole world shall know!

71 Gretchen March 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

PS I feel like you should go here too, as a prelude to Cat Island? It’s easier to reach…

I want to go there one day too…

72 clevelandpoet March 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

I was totally going to mention the Hemingway home as a predestination! I love that place.

73 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I’ve been!!! It was delightful!!!! ALL THE KITTIES.

74 Kate March 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I’m not a big fan of 30 before 30 or bucket lists either. If there’s something you want to do in life, then do it. If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Find a way to do it, or get there, or accomplish it but don’t stress out if it never happens. You either want it to happen or you don’t, y’know?

75 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:27 pm

I knew I liked you. *air five*

76 Leanna March 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I’m not gonna lie, I’m always reading the missed connections in hopes of finding one about myself.

77 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I never do, actually. I suppose I should start…

78 Ally March 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Make sure that pigs are legal in your state so that you don’t have to hide the cute little guy all the time!

79 rachaelgking March 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I’m trying, but it’s hard to find the zoning info!

80 Ally March 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

Are you still in DC? I just googled DC city ordinances and found this:

81 rachaelgking March 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

I am now, but I won’t be when I get one. #secrets


82 Amanda March 21, 2012 at 10:09 am

I love bucket lists. I loved my 101 in 1001 list even though I only did about 40 things on it. I don’t really care if I don’t actually do everything on it — it’s just fun to dream. And the things on mine, as cliche or gag inducing as they might be to others, really do bring me joy! Like reading 50 books for example. That’s my 2012 goal, and it’s because I truly love reading but need to get back into the habit. I think mostly though, the MAKING OF LISTS brings me joy! I honestly love it. Making lists brings me joy. :)

I do love your list though! I just think it’s not really so different from other people’s lists… it’s just what YOU want to do as opposed to what us boring people like to do. ;)

83 Micah March 21, 2012 at 10:10 am

Love your list.
I, too, would love to inspire a missed connection on Craigslist.
Let me know when you find that cheeseburger. :)

84 Gigs March 21, 2012 at 11:21 am

I love your list! Except for the mini-pig. They are cute, but… not my thing. I actually have completed a marathon — “completed” because I did the run/walk thing vs. actually running the whole dang thing. But… I finished 26.2 miles! In 7 hours and 26 minutes! Actually one of the greatest things I feel I’ve accomplished. Not doing it again though… ;-) And I want to go to the Puppy Bowl too! I’ve been to the Westminster Kennel Club show, which I highly recommend even though it’s not at all the same. You get to meet all the dogs, but they don’t get to play and be adorable. And I love cheeseburgers too!

But most of all: Ohmygoodness, there’s a Cat Island??? Adding Cat Island to personal travel bucket list…

85 LesleyG March 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I have recently increased how frequently I watch The Golden Girls. Now I know why.

86 Patty Duke March 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Being happy is also my #1 goal. One way I manage to achieve this goal is to not think about kicking the bucket; therefore no bucket lists.

87 Erin Lindsey March 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

“Be Happy” Yep, that’s pretty much the best vision board on the planet!

88 terra March 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I’m gonna add “Eat bacon with Tobias” to my life list. It will be a bonding experience for us, I think. Also, if he doesn’t wear boots, I’m cooking him.

89 Erica April 6, 2012 at 5:26 am

fyi- most of the islands that make up Okinawa are covered in cats if you’re looking for a slightly warmer place to view a place crawling with cats in Japan.

90 Pauline April 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm

“But I will spend every minute of every day I possibly can striving to be happy, no matter what shape or form that takes. And I don’t feel bad about that. Not for one second.”

Y’know it’s really refreshing to hear this because bucket lists just seem so…exhausting and stressful. Goals are important, but the first one that we should all have is to just try and be happy in the moment, like you. :)

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