Dos and Don’ts of Making a Reverse Bucket List

Most people know what a bucket list is, but a reverse bucket list is a little more mysterious. For a bucket list, you write down all of things you want to do or accomplish.

But for a reverse bucket list, you write down things you’ve already done, such as activities and accomplishments. This method can be especially helpful when you need a confidence boost or when you need to work out a problem and could use some insight from your past actions.

You can make a reverse bucket list to fit whatever your needs may be, so here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when creating one.

1. DO find a common theme.

Say you’re having a hard time at work, and for whatever reason, nothing you do seems to work out. You need a pick-me-up reminder of your past successes and how they all came to be from your hard work. 

Take five minutes and write down some of your recent work-related accomplishments, such as promotions, successful presentations, or even words of praise from your boss.

By zoning in on the area that you need a little boost in, you will be able to tailor your list to that area and, in turn, feel more confident about it in the end.

If it’s about work, write down work-related successes. If it’s about your social skills, write down times you met friends and how you made those relationships happen.

If you don’t have a specific area you want to address and just want to feel better overall, then mix it up. Write down times when you felt adventurous, successful, happy, or intelligent. Addressing all of these aspects will give you the positive perspective you need.

2. DON’T dwell on the negative.

I’ve found that when you’re feeling particularly low in a single moment and you try to do this exercise, you can succumb to only remembering negative moments. When you’re consumed by negative thoughts, it’s much easier to exist in them rather than recall the positive ones. 

If you’re trying to do this exercise and can’t seem to think of one past accomplishment or happy memory, then take a step back. Make a cup of coffee, read a book, or listen to a song. When you believe you’ve achieved greater clarity, then try again. 

Sometimes, it’s easy to be upset at ourselves and not want to do anything about it, so we keep spiraling with no way out.

An important part of this exercise is that you’re open to remembering those good memories and achievements, and if you do that, they will come to you with greater ease.

3. DO list concrete actions.

A reverse bucket list not only helps you remember positive moments in your life, but it can also give you guidance on how to proceed forward.

If we’re faced with a monumental task in front of us, we can feel so overwhelmed that we psych ourselves out before even trying then think we’ve already failed. Depending on the situation at-hand, it’s beneficial to think about similar situations in the past and how you handled them then. 

Maybe you’re having an issue with a coworker and you decide to write down past positive moments with your colleagues to help you feel better. As you’re writing them down, you may recall a similar disagreement.

Write down the specifics of what happened and what you did to resolve it. Writing helps us work out problems and by listing the specifics of that moment and the actions you took to resolve it, you will walk away with a better idea of how to handle your current issue.

4. DON’T forget to save it.

I like to save most things that I write, primarily because I sometimes like to look back at what I was thinking at a certain time and compare it to how I feel now.

Reverse bucket lists can be a good tool for you to save whether you want to walk down memory lane one day or when you need a reminder of how to create one. Write your lists on your phone, on random sticky notes, or in your journal and your reverse bucket lists can have the potential of coming in handy in the future.

By writing down all of your past accomplishments, you can relive your favorite experiences and memories and be able to remind yourself of what you’re capable of. It will serve as a reminder of your capabilities and provide you with a greater perspective when you’re feeling especially low or unsure of yourself.

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