Reverse Bucket List – An Exercise in Gratitude

We've all heard about Bucket Lists. But how about a reverse bucket list?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 8 years, you’ve probably heard of a Bucket List. There was this big movie that came out about it back in 2007… maybe you heard of it? ;) Well, there’s been a new trend going around the inter webs this year and it’s called the Reverse Bucket List.

I’ve had a traditional bucket list for a long time now. A rolling list of things I want to do and places I want to see before I die. It’s definitely an inspirational list and I can assure you that if I accomplish even a third of what’s on it I will have lived a pretty kick-ass life!

So what’s different about a reverse bucket list? Well, a reverse bucket list is where you sit down and write down all of the things that you have already accomplished! It’s as simple as that! (Or so I thought)

It wasn’t until I sat down to create my own reverse bucket list that I realized it really wasn’t that simple. With a traditional bucket list, it’s easy to open your mind up to new possibilities. It’s easy to imagine all of the things that you hope to accomplish and the places you dream of visiting.

A reverse bucket list, on the other hand, requires a mindset shift of sorts. Instead of dreaming and planning, it requires reflection and gratitude. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to list your accomplishments but often times we tend to belittle our own achievements, thinking that they are not as grandiose as we would like or as exciting as other stories we have heard.

When I sat down to write out my own reverse bucket list, it took me hours! Not because I haven’t done awesome things, but because I kept editing myself. I would cross things off thinking “Nah, that’s not special enough” or “Everyone has done that“.

It wasn’t until I approached my reverse bucket list from a gratitude perspective that it really started to take off. I began to realize that just because an item didn’t sound like a big deal to others, that didn’t mean it was not special or important to me. Once my list was done, I reflected on it for a while and realized how grateful I am for the adventures I have had and how proud I am of my accomplishments.

At first I thought this was just going to be a fun little list to make. A cute way to showcase my adventures. What I didn’t expect was the wave of gratitude that came over me when I read it in it’s entirety. What’s great about this reverse bucket list too, is that I can keep adding to it! (and I’m grateful for that too!)

We've all heard about Bucket Lists. But how about a reverse bucket list?

KARA’S REVERSE BUCKET LIST:

1. LIVED IN COSTA RICA (1990-1996)

One of the most amazing and cherished experiences of my life! I learned to speak Spanish fluently, saw volcanoes, played in rain forests, visited amazing beaches, made life-long friends, and learned to appreciate different cultures.

2. LIVED & WORKED IN 5 DIFFERENT STATES

Moving around so much has definitely helped me to become more tolerant and understanding of different cultures and ways of life. I’ve lived in fast-paced big cities and slow-paced small towns where everyone knows your name.

3. SNORKELED THE BACK SIDE OF THE MOLOKINI CRATER IN MAUI (2013)

The Molokini Crater is amazing in it’s own right, but few people get to snorkel the back side. We were lucky enough that the winds and swells were low enough on the day we went, and therefore got to see the amazing 360 foot drop off on the backside of the crater.

4. WENT SKYDIVING IN LAS VEGAS (2010)

Talk about an adrenaline rush! In addition to the free-fall (which was incredible), the beauty of the sights at this jump sight are almost indescribable. The Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Colorado River, Red Rock Canyon, and the Valley of Fire… talk about a feast for the eyes!

5. QUIT SMOKING (2015)

After being a smoker for almost 15 years, I’m proud to say that I was finally able to quit earlier this year. Not being a slave to cigarettes is one of the best feelings in the world!

6. MET & MARRIED THE MAN OF MY DREAMS (2012/2013)

My love, my partner in all things, my best friend. ‘Nuff said! :)

7. LEARNED TO SNOWBOARD (2013)

OK, so I fell on my ass… a LOT! But this also happens to be the trip where Mark proposed to me on a snow-covered mountain top in Colorado. Swoon, anyone? Yeah, I thought so ;)

8. RAN A 1/2 MARATHON (2006)

Running: that one thing that I love and hate all at the same time. I actually stopped running for a long time but I’m happy to report that I’m getting back into the swing of things and I’m hoping to run my first full marathon next year!

9. EXPERIENCED & OVERCAME DEPRESSION (2001)

This was one of those that I wasn’t sure about adding here. But gosh darn it, I am proud that I came out on the other side of depression!

10. STARTED MY OWN BUSINESS (2008, 2010, 2015)

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. That’s not to say that I’ve always been successful though. In 2008 I started to spin my own yarn for sale. I soon realized that I just couldn’t charge what I thought my time was worth. In 2010 I started a house cleaning business. Then I realized that I hated cleaning other people’s homes as much as I hated cleaning my own. Finally in 2015 I started selling my boho jewelry and I haven’t looked back since!

11. BEGAN A MEDITATION PRACTICE (2015)

This might be the single best thing I have done for myself! I had toyed around with meditation for years, but finally made the commitment in January and I promise you, it has changed my life!

We've all heard about Bucket Lists. But how about a reverse bucket list?

12. WROTE A BOOK (2015)

Who knew that I had it in me to write an ebook? Finishing those last few pages was one of the best feelings of accomplishment that I have had to date!

13. LEARNED TO KNIT & CROCHET (2006)

In the last few months before my daughter was born, I quit working because frankly I was just too exhausted! (You try being on your feet for 8-10 hours waiting tables in a busy restaurant). I had to find something to occupy my days and I turned to YouTube to teach me how to knit & crochet. To this day it is one of my favorite pastimes :)

14. SAW THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN FULL BLOOM IN WASHINGTON D.C. (2003)

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with cherry blossoms. They are everywhere in my house and I even have a full cherry blossom tattoo sleeve on my left arm. So when I was living just outside of D.C. I had to go see them for myself.

15. BECAME A MOTHER (2006)

The day that Bella was born is one that I will never forget. Finally getting to hold that baby girl that had been kicking around inside of me for 9 months was one of the happiest moments of my life. Fun fact: she was born on her due date… so punctual, that kid!

16. GOT A TATTOO – OR FIVE (2003, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

I’ll admit it… I’m a sucker for ink! There are lots of pretty designs in my future too!

17. STARTED A BLOG (2015)

I honestly never intended to start a blog, believe it or not. But when I started my jewelry business earlier this year, I knew that a blog was a great way to show my customers a little more about me and my design process. What this blog has evolved into since then was beyond my wildest dreams and I’m so grateful every day that I did it!

18. SWAM WITH THE DOLPHINS (2001)

I was lucky to visit Atlantis in the Bahamas when I graduated high school and even luckier to get the opportunity to swim with dolphins on that trip! Would I do it again? Absolutely!

19. PLAYED IN HIDDEN WATERFALLS IN MAUI (2013)

Our honeymoon in Maui was incredible! My favorite part was our guided tour of the Road to Hana, where we hiked to see some beautiful hidden waterfalls. Our tour guide (hi, Wade!) was amazing and took us to some places that those big tourist buses never get to see!

20. ATE AT AN IRON CHEF’S RESTAURANT (2014)

I’ve always been a big fan of the T.V. show Iron Chef. Little did I know that not only would I get to eat at one of their restaurants but I would end up working for one too!

21. RODE IN THE OUTBACK BLIMP (2007)

Did you know that you cannot buy a ticket to ride in a blimp? You have to be invited! Back in 2007 there were only 7 blimps in the U.S. and I was lucky enough to work for Outback Steakhouse, who owned 2 of them. They ran a sales contest and the grand prize was a ride on the Outback blimp! Guess who won? :)

22. PUT 100,000 MILES ON A CAR THAT I BOUGHT BRAND NEW (2015)

Yup! I love to drive, and being nearly 1,000 miles away from home makes for putting a lot of miles on the wheels!


So there you have it! My very own Reverse Bucket List! Oh, and speaking of gratitude… I’m going to tease you with another glimpse into my Bullet Journal!

Cultivating gratitude in my Bullet Journal. What are you grateful for today?

I promise the full Bullet Journal post is coming up very soon and I think you’re going to love it!

What are the TOP 3 accomplishments in your life that you would add to your own Reverse Bucket List? Do me a favor and let me know in the comments below, will ya?

Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy – Boho Berry Paperie.

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  • I went to DC to see the cherry blossoms too!! I flew there for just 24hrs (before heading to NYC) just to see the blossoms! Other accomplishments include living for 9 months in the US (I’m from Greece) and travelling to California! For all these travel related accomplishments I am grateful towards my husband as it was thanks to his scholarship and studies in the US that I got to do all these things!

    • That is wonderful, Anna! That is what I love about looking back at the cool things we’ve done. It makes us grateful all over again for the experiences :)

      Greece is definitely on my list of places that I can’t wait to visit!

  • Joni Mitchell

    this was an amazing post, def made me think about my own life. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re welcome Joni! Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Rae

    That’s quite an impressive list you’ve got there. Jealous of you getting to see the back side of Molokini Crater! Congratulations on quitting smoking, too! Thanks for sharing on the Blog Love Project.

    • Haha, thanks Rae! The backside of Molokini was amazing! Definitely made the whole trip :)

  • ICEskatingVE R

    What a great list of accomplishments!! :) I am so happy for you! Definiely a great reminder to work hard on my dreams and goals so I achieve what I wish one day. You have done 1/2 of my bucket (www.nextstopabroad.com/2015/08/02/travel-bloggers-bucket-list/) list it seems :) Thanks for reminding me being more grateful for what I have already done. This is also a great inspiration for some of my future blog post.

    • Thank you Nika! I think it’s so important to reflect and appreciate where we have been already. I’m so glad that you found my post inspirational :)

  • Mandi

    Oh, Kara this post is so beautiful and makes me want to write one of my own <3 My husband and I are planning a trip to see the cherry blossoms in D.C. next year. I also ADORE your blog and am a new fan. Its so pretty and organized!

    • Aw shucks, Mandi! You’ve got me blushing over here! Thank you so much for the compliments! You and the hubby will LOVE the cherry blossoms! Just beautiful!

  • Marie Wintzer

    I’ve been waiting for the bullet journal post but this one is such a great post I will happily wait a little more :-) I love your positive attitude to life, you are an inspiration. Your list is simply amazing. I’ve been thinking about mine after reading this and it would look equally amazing. Thank you for this kick-ass exercise of gratitude!

    • Marie, I promise I won’t keep you waiting TOO long for the Bullet Journal post ;) I’m so happy that you found this useful, though and I can’t wait to see what your reverse bucket list looks like! All of the love to you! :)

      • Marie Wintzer

        Oh it would take ages and more to write the full list and publish it as nicely as you did ;-)) One can see how much time you spent doing this. I’m in love with the concept. You can reverse bucket your entire life and you can also reverse bucket something as short as one day! It’s all benefit.

  • Loved this! A reverse bucket list… i LOVE crossing things off my list but i never want to add things I’ve already done! This is an amazing idea! I love that you put things that are personal to you… it’s your list they should be your accomplishments!

    • Exactly, Betsy! Make your own list, take a good hard look at it, and see just how awesome you already are! :) Thanks for stopping by! <3

  • Love the idea of this post Kara! I’m not my biggest cheerleader but remembering all the exciting things I’ve done in this way would be pretty cool!

    • Thank you Marina! It definitely is a mood booster for sure! :)

  • What a great idea! You’ve done a lot of amazing things!

    Let’s see…my top three would have to be….
    1. I got a horse of my very own. Who knew when I went to live a thousand miles from home to be with my husband I’d get a horse? Not me.
    2. I played Div. 1 Women’s College Hockey. Okay, it was only a year, but it counts!
    3. I started my own business. It’s nothing like I thought it would be. Being a freelance designer always sounds so glamorous, but I am, and I’m trying to make it work.

  • Sarah Spencer

    This is SUCH a stinkin’ great idea!! Totally doing this in bio-form on my about page. Love!

  • I love this so much!! What a great perspective.

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  • Stephanie

    oh goodness. only just found your blog and I keep reading and reading and enjoying every little bit!! Its so beautiful! I keep a bullet journal, have done for 2 years now and love it. I’m dying to see yours :) I’ll be a follower now for now on – woop woop!! Keep up the great work!!!! xx

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  • Shannon

    I stumbled upon this today and you completely changed my perspective. I am having a birthday this week and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was focusing on all that I haven’t done yet and all I still want to do. I was feeling anxious and depressed. So, I made yet another bucket list this morning then I found your blog. Wow. Way to shift my self-pity, “oh whoa-is-me, I’ll never get to do…” attitude. I made my reverse bucket list and the whole reflective process made me see that I have definitley had a kick-ass life so far. I am now feeling so grateful and optimistic about what’s ahead for me and my family. I can’t thank you enough. xoxo

    • You’re comment just totally made my day, Shannon! I definitely know that “poor me” mindset… I had it for years! Something about gratitude though invokes a huge mindset shift. Once you start acknowledging it, and even better – documenting it, it changes your whole perspective on life. I hope this pushes you in a positive direction, and if there is ever anything I can do to help, please let me know :)

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  • I just found your blog through Pinterest, I wanted to find out more about the idea of a reverse bucket list and I love it! I am one for minimising my achievements One of my intentions for the New Year is to be more grateful and I think spending time doing a reverse bucket list will help me with this, thank you for sharing it.
    My top 4 accomplishments (because I couldn’t decide between 3 and 4) would be graduating university in 2015, my skydive in 2014, swimming with dolphins in 2012 and my solo road trip in 2015.

    Steph x

    inspirationsandme.blogspot.co.uk

    • Hi Steph! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love your top 4! Here’s to many more accomplishments to come :)

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  • Kathleen Scott

    Top 4 Accomplishments that were on my life’s bucket list, before the term was even coined. I called them Promises to Myself.
    1) Graduated University. (Grade 9 drop out, but completed my Arts degree my 40th year.)
    2) No more kids after 25. I had my first at 18, and I said to myself, Okay. You’re starting early, so quit early. Which I did.

    3) See a World Wonder. I went to Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
    4) Go to Burma. I went across the border into Myanmar for a whole day. Because my travelling partner was sick, I had to go alone. I was scared, but it was actually an amazing mini adventure.

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  • Rhonda

    Top 5 Accomplishments
    1. Survived my childhood
    2. Married my high school sweetheart
    3. Survived his death and learned to live on my own
    4. Found love again and remarried
    5. Moved to France with new husband

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  • Lauren Mitchell

    Great post!

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  • MikaelShort

    I love this idea! May write my own reverse bucket list to share on my blog (I’ll give the credit for inspiration!). Hmm… three things off the top of my head… I’ve performed both on a cruise ship (talent show–with a standing O!) and on Off-Broadway! Lived in England for a summer abroad (studied at Cambridge). And written/completed a handful of books (whether or not some are crap is another story), and self-published one of them.
    I feel like this is such a good reminder to keep in mind all the cool things you’ve already done. We move so fast, with so many expectations on ourselves, we forget that we already have accomplished a lot, even in little things. Thanks for the idea! :)

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  • Sarah Hay

    This is fantastic, thank you for this idea. I also loved that you added your experience with depression. What a thing to be proud of. And if you experience it again, you can approach it with gentleness and love. This spoke to my heart. I, too, have gone through depression and lived to see the other side. It gives hope to those in the midst of it. Don’t give up. Try all the things to find your “cure” or management of it! I wrote my list out last night and was so surprised to see what I listed. Thank you for this article, loved it!

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  • mia kulper

    now i’m depressed

  • Laurie Harris

    what a great idea! I think we all try to document our achievements for work, but don’t always think about achievements from life in general, and I love that you have tied gratitude to it. I think I will add this to my journal

  • Jen Wewers

    This was such an awesome post. I need to do this and immerse myself in those waves!

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