The Reverse Bucket List

You know how sometimes, even though you love them, the people in your life who have it more “together” than you can make you feel like a real piece of shit?

Yeah. That happened to me a while ago (this post was written in 2012, so it was a long while ago now haha)

I was at a business friend’s house, and her walls were full of these post it notes. I’m taking probably 100 post-its, all arranged in perfect asymmetrical rows, that were splattered with little inspirational affirmations and thoughts and other coachy type things.

And one whole chunk of wall was dedicated to celebrating the past – one note for each thing she had accomplished.

Think reverse bucket list – a backwards look at everything she’d done, all with a neat little checkmark next to them.

I remember looking at that wall and just feeling deflated…. like I would NEVER achieve the kinds of things she had

Obviously, this shitty I was getting because of her awesome accomplishments and creative post-it notes has NOTHING to do with her (she’s a lovely friend!). It’s ALL me. And my own bullshit insecurities.

I saw this list and I immediately got jealous of all the amazing things she’s accomplished. And the fact that she has a gorgeous condo in which to display such amazingness. And the fact that her list of future goals is about 1000x more ambitious than mine.

And all I had at the time was a dirty 80s Chevy campervan van and a few scrappy notes in my moleskin about what I wanted to do eventually, someday, when I was done being a dirtbag rockclimber in a van.

Except, I did have more. I just hadn’t quite structured it into a fancy little art project… yet.

The more is all those totally cool things I’ve done before I lived in a van (AND, I guess living in a van for a year is pretty cool too!).


Funny how quick we are to write off what we’ve done in the past and only focus on all the things we want for the future.


But when the future seems far away, and we’re feeling anxious about our BIG dreams (and the pressure that can come along with them), celebrating your past is a quick and easy way to reconnect to how amazing you are already, regardless of what the future holds.



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So without further ado, I present to you my Reverse Bucket List (written in 2012 when this post was first published. I can now add a whole lot of other cool things to this list, like creating a business that’s brought in multiple millions of dollars, done a 180km solo backpacking trip, and FINALLY learning to drive  at 36 years old!)


Here list of all the things I’d accomplished that I’m super proud of. Some big, others subtle. All which have played a part in me becoming who I am today and even fueling the business I have today (follow me over @theuncagedlife on Instagram!)


Read. Be inspired. And go create your own list of at least 50 things.


Becca’s Reverse Bucket List

1. Pay my own way through University

2. Go on a solo trip through Thailand

3. Teach English in another country

4. Bungee jump

5. Jump out of a plane

6. Swim with dolphins

7. Get straight As for a full year

8. Travel to a 3rd world country

9. Experience depression

10. Survive the death of a parent

11. Be in love

12. Be in love with myself

13. Manifest $10,000 (no kidding… should write a post on this!)

14. Become my own boss

15. Be location independent in my work

16. Ride an elephant

17. Take a year-long road trip

18. Become a holistic nutritionist

19. Get accepted into a Masters program

20. Save a life

21. Sail with a Swiss polygamist

22. Learn to rock climb

23. Take a 30ft rock climbing fall

24. Lead climb a 12+

25. Make a difference in the world

26. Take a year off to travel

27. Pay off my 14 year student loan in less than 2 years

28. Ask a guy a shitload of guys out

29. Experience total heartbreak

30. Be a total heartbreaker

31. Work on a farm

32. Work in a stripclub

33. Work at Hooters (stop judging me)

34. Go on a yoga retreat

35. Go on a solo rock climbing adventure

36. Live in a van

37. Make passive income

38. Get paid over $100/hour

39. Cultivate a regular yoga practice

40. Move to another country… alone

41. Travel around Central America for 2 months

42. Hike up an active volcano

42. Lead a workshop for 20+ people

43. Kiss a stranger

44. Learn to tell the hard truth

45. Start an online business

46. Walk my talk

47. Change someone’s life who I’ve never met

48. Pull an all-nighter on the beach and watch the sun come up

49. Get paid to write

50. Take a homeless person shopping


… and the list goes on (and should probably be updated since I wrote that list in 2012 when I was 30 years old. I’m not 41 with a whole lot of other wins under my belt!)

Now. your turn. Create your own list of 50 accomplishments (nothing is insignificant).. Celebrate your past, and get ready to rock your world when you see just how awesome you already ARE.

HOT TIP – this is an incredible exercise to do if you area business owner and trying to figure out how you are different from everyone else in your industry. Your unique experiences give you a lens with which to look at your clients problems and offer them solutions. Don’t discount anything! Even if it’s not directly related to your business, I’d challenge you to come up with a reason why each thing IS an asset to your clients). I’d love to hear what you come up with — shoot me a DM over on Instagram @theuncagedlife

xx becca


  1. Sally Hope on September 9, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    This is so awesome. And what an AMAZING LIST! Oh man! And for the record…I think what you’re doing is inspiring. And challenging. And cool. And pushing all kinds of your limits. This is the stuff of life, my dear. Everyone’s “wall of post-its” looks different. Some people have it crinkled up on napkins and some people have it floating from their penthouse windows on friggin chinese silk. Doesn’t make the accomplishments or the dreams any less important. You’re doing it, right now. Living uncaged. You go girl.


    • Rebecca on September 10, 2012 at 7:52 am

      Aw, miss you already Sally! Thanks for all the support lady 🙂 You are also doing it, which is why I love you so much. Hope the rest of your trip in Canada was as amazing as your first day 🙂

  2. Meg on September 10, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Love your list! You have done some super awesome stuff. I’m inspired to head off and make my own list …

    • Rebecca on September 10, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Thanks Meg! Can’t wait to see yours! Will you post here when it’s done?

  3. Kris Emery on September 10, 2012 at 4:13 am

    I adore how your list has a mix of amazing happy stuff and amazing sad stuff. We forget to celebrate mere survival sometimes and how much of an achievement it is to just deal with shit. I love how real you are in your writing. Your voice really comes across and makes this post have real impact. And you’ve given me a shizzle load of ideas for my list. Thanks Becca, awesome article!

    • Rebecca on September 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

      Aw, thanks! Yeah, when you skip over all the shitty stuff that’s happened it kind of takes away from how important it has been for you… Honor EVERYTHING you’ve done and been through, and use that as ammo going forward, knowing you can conquer anything!

      Post your list here ! I wanna see!

  4. Lisa Marie on September 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Love, love, LOVE your list! Man, you’ve done some amazing things. I’m going to go work on mine now:)

    • Rebecca on September 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      does going to work on yours mean WRITE it, or do fun things to ADD to it : )

  5. Phyllis Wilson/Wise Woman on September 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Beautiful, Becca. I got to “Survive the death of a parent” on your list and clicked to that post (so, holding back tears as I type this) – I can add that to my list as well – have yet to muster the courage to write that post. But, wow, I’m inspired!

    • Rebecca on September 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Aw, thanks Phyllis! And, there’s no one saying you HAVE to write that post. If it will serve you and your audience to write about, then do it, but there’s no rule saying we have to expose everything about our lives on our blogs 🙂

      I do,however, fully expect you to post your list of 50 things (at least in the comments here). hehe

  6. Robin Hallett on September 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Rebecca, Me thinks there’s something in the water these days 🙂 I’ve also had this experience recently of feeling like shit because I forgot how awesome I truly am! And, just putting in my vote for future blog posts: 21. Sail with a Swiss polygamist, um, need to hear about this one.
    Off to make my own 50 list.
    Hugs, and thanks for being you,

    • Rebecca on September 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      haha i should DEFINITELUY write a post about Hans the polygamist and how utterly insane that 5 days on his homemade catamaran was, sailing around Fiji. I smile and shudder just thinking about it ! Would love to see your list!

  7. Jennifer Mansell on September 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This is amazing! I am having a blast filling in my list!

  8. Jennifer Mansell on September 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Check out my list!

  9. Anna on November 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Yep, just as I suspected, Becca kicks ass!

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  11. Billy Brown on January 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Great post, Becca! Here’s the first 16 entries on my list:
    1.Totally married out of my league.
    2.I work on my own schedule from my house.
    3.Sometimes I get paid to lay in a hammock and drink beer for an entire afternoon.
    4.Was fire-poisoned by a sushi challenge in Salt Lake City.
    5.Was within 10 feet of several wild grizzly bears without crapping myself.
    6.Jumped off some waterfalls in the Grand Canyon.
    7.Crossed the Colorado River in a packraft.
    8.Ran across 60 miles of the Rockies.
    9.24 of those miles were on a pulled hamstring.
    10.Got dropped by 10,000 volts at the NorCal Tough Mudder.
    11.Ran around a cruise ship in my underwear.
    12.Gave a quarterback a concussion during his own homecoming game.
    13.Got paid to drive around in four turbocharged AWD wagons for a month.
    14.Was called a “wild man” by Outside PR.
    15.Wandered around San Francisco getting my pictures taken in long underwear.
    16.Spoke with ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes about dealing with cramps during the TransRockies Run.

    Way to remind everyone to look back on past awesome and to look forward to the awesomeness that’s yet to come.

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  14. leah d on February 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you for sharing… this is great. Okay, I am going to give it a cold-try, right now…
    1. Became a Youth Leader to teach about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
    2. Lead workshops for youth on all of the above as a young adult
    3. Survived ‘manic-depression’ as a youth and young-adult (wich meant loosing A LOT over and over)
    4. Began and still practice Nichiren Daishonin’s (SGI) Buddhism
    5. Never stop reflecting and challenging myself to be a better person
    6. Was an Educational Interpreter for the Deaf for two years
    7. Interpreted “Harry Potter” in ASL when it first came out
    8. Worked out 4-5 days/wk for over a year (Tae Bo)
    9. Played the lead role in Bye Bye Birdie my senior year
    10. Survived hating myself and suicidal tenancies through my whole childhood and young adulthood.
    11. Never gave up on myself
    12. Backpacked from Mammoth to Yosemite 2wks
    13. Supported my mom the night her mother died
    14. Went from a “F” student to a “A” student
    15. Survived debilitating anxiety attacks through college and still graduated with BA and Teaching Credentials
    16. Always remind others to recycle and reduce waist – even at 3-day seminars, where I took the recycling home myself.
    17. Made a commitment to live, and enjoy life, when I made a commitment to get married
    18. Married the most giving, sincere, honest man
    19. Nurtured the best friendship with my sister
    20. Learned how to snowboard at the age of 35yr when I was terrified of speed, moving sports my whole life. (I am so psyched on snowboarding now!!)
    21. Camp for a week every year.
    22. Hug trees
    23. Been a great mommy for five years
    24. Taught Kindergarten/1st/ AND 2nd grade in one class my first year of teaching.
    25. Am a whole-child teacher – I pay attention to social/emotional/academic needs as equals
    26. I teach with individual needs, individual styles in mind – “universal design”
    27. I strive to bring inspiration, spirit, and internal incentive to every classroom
    28. I am getting my Masters in Special Education
    29. I have received among the highest scores in all my courses thus far.
    30. I reach out to encourage others
    31. I lived in England for two semesters and worked full-time while going to school to support myself.
    32. I held my mom in my arms as she died.
    33. I held my father in my arms as he died (a month ago- waaaaaaaaa!!!)
    34. I am not afraid of death- rather inspired by the passage of birth/death and the eternal
    35. I am a happy dancer – especially Latin!!

    okay.. unfiltered, out to the world,… thanks.. this is a bit scary but cool 😉

    • Rebecca on February 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      –> 32. I held my mom in my arms as she died.
      –> 33. I held my father in my arms as he died (a month ago- waaaaaaaaa!!!)

      Holy smokes girl. Sending you lots of love. Did you read my recent post about my momma?

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  16. TIna Chen on February 26, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Hey Becca! Didn’t know you wrote about my post it wall 😛 A coach friend of mine came over, and said “Hey, you have a Reverse Bucket List too!” I loved, loved, loved the term and asked her where she got it from. She said she got it from her coach… who is you! Amazing coach family!

    This is the wall:

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  25. Delfina on January 12, 2016 at 11:36 am

    This is totally awesome! I absolutely love it. Thanks for sharing. I’m not nearly as good as I’d like to be at looking back, although now, I’ve been using my 5 Min Journal, which is helping me sooo much with that. PS – swimming with dolphins is totally on my reverse bucket list as well 😉 One of the highlights of my life!

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  27. Paula, The Geeky Shopaholic on July 20, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Love your list! And love this idea! What a great way to keep yourself centered when you’re feeling down about your life! I’m definitely going to write my own!

  28. 1 WEEK MARY on July 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    This is so great, you’ve achieved SO much in your life, already. There’s no need to feel crappy, you’ve inspired LOADS of people to think about the things they’ve already accomplished instead of thinking about what they’d rather be doing. Great post and mine will be coming very soon. Thanks for writing! Xx

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  30. Chasa Fulkerson on July 22, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I love this sooo much! It’s easy to feel bad or get down on yourself when all you are focused on is your future! Love this idea! I am going to be working on my list and I will come back and post them!

  31. Sarah @ tomfo on July 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    I love this idea, so easy to forget the amazing stuff we have already done in our lives, popping over from the ultimate rabbit hole. X

  32. Amy Croson on August 31, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Hi Becca,
    This is an awesome idea! There are so many people out there who are constantly looking at the successes of others & allowing it to worry themselves when they have accomplished so much themselves already. (Myself often being one of them!) If we were able to focus more on our own actions, I feel that we might just be able to push ourselves to work even harder, & take more risks.

    If you’re interested, I’d really like to talk to you more about this in an email interview for my website. Please let me know what you think. (It’d be 10 questions, email-based & I’d need 4-8 photos.)

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Rebecca Tracey on August 31, 2016 at 11:45 am

      sure thing – please email [email protected] to set it up 🙂

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