Should You Have A Bucket List?

How creating your bucket list can motivate you in life.

Bucket lists caught on when The Bucket List hit the big screen in 2007. Formed from the phrase ‘kick the bucket’, it started as a list of things to do before dying – but over time, we’ve given it a more positive spin by making it about achievements to aim for. We speak to experts at the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) about whether it’s good to have a bucket list.

Is it good for your mental health?

“Journaling is encouraged for your mental wellbeing in order to keep track of milestones and achievements, giving you a feeling of accomplishment,” says Cheong Sue Jen, executive secretary of MMHA. She adds: “One of the elements in journaling is to create a bucket list – which aims to make you stop and think about what you actually want in life. It gives you hope and curiosity, which are two essential ingredients for happiness. And you’ll feel happier when you’re able to see and track progress. The bucket list will remind you of what you can achieve.”

How it should not make you feel

Leanne Lee, a clinical psychologist at MMHA, warns that having a bucket list is not good for your mental health if it:

  • Leaves you with a sense of regret when you’re unable to achieve it
  • Uses up your entire savings
  • Makes you tired and overwhelmed
  • Causes you to lose focus on everything else
  • Triggers anxiety and comparisons with others (Facebook and Instagram can exacerbate this issue)


Registered counsellor Nurhijjah Mat Zin and Leanne both agree that a bucket list should give you clear goals and leave you feeling inspired, not demotivated. “Recognise that you have the flexibility to remove and modify anything on your list. I believe with the right mentality and understanding, it will set your life up with adventures, as well as provide a sense of belonging and achievement,” explains Leanne.

Take on your bucket list with a positive mindset:

  • Start with bite-sized goals. Outline your intentions and financial consideration by being as specific as possible (time, length, duration, frequency, and who you’re doing it with). Most importantly, be flexible – know when to change a goal or scrap it altogether.
  • Use a tool to organise and plan out your goals, such as an app on your phone or laptop.
  • Remember that a bucket list is supposed to ease your life by giving you clarity in achieving specific goals.
  • Make sure you work it to your strengths.
  • Have monthly bucket list get-togethers with friends. This could be a huge source of support when you encounter challenges, besides providing the nudge you sometimes need to get back on track.

Experts : Cheong Sue Jen, executive secretary at MMHA, Leanne Lee, clinical psychologist at MMHA, and Nurhijjah Mat Zin, registered counsellor at MMHA

This article was featured in Her World Malaysia, December 2018 issue. 

Watch NOW! Hang Out at Dome with Her World Episode 4 :

“How creating a bucket list can motivate you in life!”

Her World’s editor, Eena, sat with Mae Cheah, president of Asia – Trafalgar & Cost Savers, Yasmin Rasyid, founder & president of Eco Knights Malaysia, and Vizla Kumaresan, a clinical psychologist from Ara Damansara Medical Center, to chat about creating your life list instead of a bucket list!