What I Do When I Feel Disappointed With What I’ve Achieved

I make a reverse-bucket list

Christine Schoenwald
May 7 · 4 min read
Photo by Catalin Pop on Unsplash

We’re great at recognizing other people’s achievements, but it’s much more challenging to see and appreciate our own. How many times do you do something to support a friend or a loved one, but fail to congratulate yourself on finishing a project or achieving a goal?

Whether it’s pre-ordering someone’s book, attending a show or gallery-opening, or donating to a crowd-fund campaign to help a dream project become a reality, we’re happy to do it.

However, there are times when we find ourselves feeling less than accomplished and more like a colossal failure. We criticize ourselves for still being an unpublished author or for not reaching any of our goals.

It’s unfair when we emotionally beat ourselves up for not having done more or not being as hugely successful as we planned. Dreams don’t expire, and there’s nothing that says you can’t still make them come true.

The more you dwell on what you haven’t done, the more pressure you put on yourself, and the easier it becomes to give up. How can you take the steps you need to take when there’s so much riding on it?

So, what can you do if you feel stalled and overwhelmed?

You could make a traditional bucket list where you list the things you’ve always wanted to do but put off for one reason or another.

However, bucket lists can make us feel guilty or act as reminders of what we haven’t accomplished. They can be more of a poke in the ribs rather than a gentle prodding.

When I find myself comparing my life to other people’s more successful lives or feeling down about my own, I write a reverse bucket list. It boosts my mood and clarifies what I need to do to move forward.

Write a reverse-bucket list instead to give yourself a new perspective.

When you write down everything you’ve done already, you’ll be surprised at the length of the list, the things you’ve forgotten about, and how much you’ve already achieved.

A reverse-bucket list (RBL) is a simple way to boost your confidence and belief in yourself.

You’re not comparing your life achievements with those of someone else — instead, you’re looking at where you were and where you are today. You’re using the past to help you to change your mindset from disappointment to feeling optimistic and encouraged.

Where did you travel to that you always wanted to see?

What relationships did you forge, and what lessons did you learn from them?

What jobs did you have, and what skills did you gain from those work experiences?

What did you create from scratch, and how can you use those discoveries in the future?

Reverse-bucket lists can build up your self-esteem.

They remind you of the fears you’ve conquered, the skills and abilities you’ve accumulated along the way, and reassures you that you’ve got the abilities and skills to do anything.

A review of your accomplishments gives you a strong foundation for what comes next. When you look back on your past achievements, you’re reminded of previous challenges and how you overcome them. Your experiences have created your own instruction manual.

You’ve already learned from your past mistakes, and you know how to avoid making them again. When you proceed on a project, you’re confident that you know what you’re doing because you’ve done something similar before. You have a good idea of the next steps you need to take, and you’re not scared to take them.

Get a clear picture of your skillset.

Since a reverse-bucket list is in the past, it’s not emotionally dangerous. Time gives you the ability to see things clearly and to be honest with yourself. Where are you lacking, and what areas of your expertise do you need to build up? You’re secure enough to know when to ask for help and when to go it alone.

A reverse-bucket list is a fantastic motivator.

Now that you know what you can do, it’s time to start working on your new goals and seek the fulfillment of bigger dreams. An RBL reminds you that you’ve got this and anything else you’re willing to work for and concentrate on achieving.

Reverse-bucket lists are for any age.

It makes no difference if you’re just starting in life or you’re looking back on decades of living — we all need to be reminded of where we’re at now and see all the positives in our lives so far.

No one is ever too old or too young to feel grateful for their lives.

Writing a reverse-bucket list is fun.

It’s enjoyable to remind yourself of the things you’ve successfully done. An RBL is a personal pep talk that says, “Now that you know everything you’ve already achieved, the mistakes you’ve learned from, and all the clever solutions you came up with to handle problems you never thought you could solve, it’s time to make new challenges and goals. You’re the expert of your life.”


We may forget to support ourselves or be our own hype-person, but a reverse-bucket list can help you see your worth and the importance of believing in yourself. Let your experiences give you a strong foundation on which to build your personal measure of success.


We curate outstanding articles from diverse domains and…

Christine Schoenwald

Written by

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Startup, Tenderly, Fearless She Wrote, MuddyUm. Christineschoenwaldwriter.com


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

Christine Schoenwald

Written by

Writer for The Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Startup, Tenderly, Fearless She Wrote, MuddyUm. Christineschoenwaldwriter.com


We curate and disseminate outstanding articles from diverse domains and disciplines to create fusion and synergy.

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