On Writing Reverse Bucket Lists and Remembering How Amazing You Are

"Am I good enough? I'm not where I said I would be at this time in my life, am I doing something wrong? Am I doing enough? Why am I not doing all of the things the people I know are doing?"

Sometimes, we fall short of our own expectations, or we see others who've exceeded the expectations we set for ourselves. For a second or longer, we can forget how awesome we are.

After reading about the concept of reverse bucket lists on Trek Tech, it occurred to me that I'm absolutely guilty of forgetting about past achievements. Living in the past is generally frowned upon, but creating a reverse bucket list can be an amazing way to remind yourself that despite what you haven't accomplished in life yet, there's a whole lot you have. It's not about bragging or tooting your own horn, it's about patting yourself on the back for achievements you're proud of. Whether it's climbing Everest or learning how to make sushi, we've all got things we've done that make us awesome.

Last night, I sat down and brainstormed things I'd done over the past ten years, give or take. I smiled, I laughed, I thought, "oh wow, I totally forgot I did that!" more than once. Here's what I came up with for my list:
  1. Live in Alaska. I moved there in 2006 right after college for a job working in Denali National Park. I spent two amazing summers in Denali, survived a winter in Anchorage, and have been trying to figure out how to get back to visit since I left.
  2. Drive cross-country. In 2007, my partner in crime and I packed up my Toyota Corolla (see item 17) and drove from Denali National Park to Philadelphia. Our route covered three western Canadian provinces, too, including a few amazing stops.
  3. Get paid to write. It's happened more than once, and sometimes, I still can't believe it.
  4. Deadlift 2 1/2 times my body weight. I started CrossFit a year and a half ago and discovered I'm pretty good at picking up heavy barbells and putting them down. My ultimate goal is to deadlift 400 pounds, but for now, I'm pretty happy with a one-rep max of 365 pounds.
  5. Win a swimming national championship. Though I thought I'd quit competitive swimming after college, I picked it up again last year for long enough to qualify for USMS Spring Nationals. It's not the Olympics, not even close, but on that day, in that race, I was the fastest 50 yard breaststroker in the pool.
  6. Get my writing published. Thank you, Women's Adventure, for making this dream come true. I had a real-life print magazine article published in the Summer 2012 issue. Hopefully, there are more published works to come.
  7. Get a photo I took published. When I was in Zion National Park alone a few years ago, I put my point-and-shoot camera on a rock, set the timer, and took a picture of myself playing in a puddle. Turns out, it fit in quite well with a promotion Camelbak wanted to run some time later.
  8. Overcome my paralyzing fear of heights. I started rock climbing, then ice climbing, despite being petrified every second I was off the ground. The fear will always be there, but for me, it's about moving forward despite fear. Dozens of trips and hundreds of days of climbing later, many, many checks on this reverse bucket list item. I even learned how to lead climb.
  9. Climb a really big mountain. Though Mount Rainier isn't really big by mountaineering standards, it's both literally and figuratively huge for me to be able to say I did it.
  10. Do something big to make a difference. I climbed Rainier both do check "climb a really big mountain" off of my bucket list and to help disadvantaged kids have transformative outdoor experiences through Big City Mountaineers' Summit for Someone program. I raised over $5,000 for the organization.
  11. Build my own website. I never imagined this would be a bucket list item, but man, it's pretty cool to think about where Adventure-Inspired came from, how it's evolved, and the incredible opportunities (hello, #OmniTen!) I've had and the people I've met because of it.
  12. Get Wilderness First Aid certified. Check, thanks to TerraMar Adventures, and I've maintained the certification for three years.
  13. Own a cat. It seems ridiculous to include this, but for as long as I remember, I've wanted a kitty. Now, I have two, and they're amazing. Just check Instagram if you don't believe me.
  14. Interview someone I really admire. I've had the chance to talk to some pretty incredible people for Adventure-Inspired, including Majka Burhardt, Theo Meiners, Alli Rainey and many, many more.
  15. Climb a mountain with my brother. He's one of my heroes without a doubt, just because of how awesome he is. (I sometimes call him my life coach. He doesn't protest.) We climbed a few short, but still significant mountains in Acadia National Park this summer
  16. Compete in an adventure race. I competed in my second this fall with one of my best friends. We didn't compete so much as finished, but it was a blast.
  17. Learn how to drive stick. I bought my 2004 Toyota Corolla S, which has a manual transmission, from a coworker in Denali before I knew how to drive stick. After a few agonizing weeks and calls to my mother telling her I might have to give it back, I finally figured it out. Aurora's been with me ever since, including for item #2.
  18. Go on a solo camping trip. The first attempt didn't go as planned. The second attempt was more successful. I spent the night in a small, half-empty campground in Zion National Park. I hardly slept because it was a million degrees and the moon was as bright as the sun that night. 
  19. Cross a ladder over a crevasse. Right below the summit of Mount Rainier in 2010. I didn't look down. I imagine I looked something like this, even though the ladder was ten feet long, at the most.
  20. Build a snowman on a glacier. I checked this item off on a glacier landing tour in Denali National Park. 
  21. Get lost in the woods and live to tell about it. The experience was way less dramatic than it sounds, but it could have been worse.
  22. Become a legitimate outdoor gear tester. I review all sorts of fun things here, and I'm an official contributor to Trek Tech. I even have a Trek Tech email address (katie@trektechblog.com). That mean's I've arrived, right?
  23. Become an outdoor adventure guide. Though I'm certainly no JB, and certainly won't be guiding anyone up Everest anytime soon, I have led groups on dozens of hikes and other events for TerraMar Adventures over the past five years.
  24. Be told by someone I admire that I've grown. To me, it's significantly more meaningful to hear I've progressed in my life than it is to hear "good job," though the latter is always welcome. 
What's on your reverse bucket list? Can you think of an accomplishment or two, or five, that you haven't patted yourself on the back for in a while? Sit down and write out a few things that make you awesome. It'll make you feel as great as you are. And leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you.


Lynn said…
Hmmm...this is a great topic. I'll have to do some thinking about this! The only one I can think of off the top of my head is to get published. It was in a peer-reviewed nanotechnology journal, which was definitely not what I had in mind when I added that item to my bucket list, but I think it definitely counts!
Katie said…
Lynn, that absolutely counts! Anything can be on the list, really, it's just a matter of thinking about things you're proud of. I almost added "learn to make sushi" to the list because I took a class last fall, but decided I'm too much of a beginner. You're a mountain biker and a hiker, right? Even just surviving mountain biking counts! :)
Heidi Henry said…
I often take inventory of this and will write things down here or there. I love reading everyone's lists. Maybe I'll make my own...
Katie said…
I would LOVE to see your list, Heidi! It's great that you keep a running list too, I might need to start doing that too.
Meghan J. Ward said…
Katie - thanks for this post! You have inspired me greatly...enough to write a Reverse Bucket List of my own. Here's the link! http://thecampsiteblog.com/2013/01/18/the-reverse-bucket-list/
aaron levy said…
How about we climb a whooole bunch of hills? That equals a mountain, right?
Sarah said…
Wonderful list! It inspired me to write my own too. As for #11, I think your website is very well laid out/designed and how cool that you did it yourself!
Katie said…
I'm so glad you wrote yours, Meghan! I really enjoyed reading it.
Katie said…
I loved reading yours, Sarah! and I really appreciate the kind words about the website...it's been a labor of love and will continue to be :)
Perlin Earth said…
Great idea! It inspired me to write my own list. Thanks!