Whether it’s visiting an active volcano, skydiving out of an aeroplane or a relaxing on a private Caribbean cruise, we all have things we’d like to achieve during our lifetime. Making a bucket list can help you prioritise your hopes and dreams, and to stay focused on making them a reality.
The best time to get started is now because there really is no time like the present!
That said, making your bucket list shouldn’t be a quick, five-minute activity where you scribble a few ideas on a scrap of paper. If you’re going to strive to realise your dreams, you need to put some thought into the process.
The following tips can help you to create a bucket list that is truly your own.
Choose the Perfect Place for Your Bucket List
First things first – find the perfect place for making a bucket list. Your list will be a summary of some of your greatest aspirations in life, so it deserves to be recorded in a fitting place. The back of an old envelope simply will not do.
Purchase a good quality journal or notebook. Consider a gilt-edged book bound in leather or a journal that features an inspiring picture or quote on the cover. Another idea is to obtain a handbound book containing leaves of handmade paper. Not only will you have the space to make preliminary notes before finalising your bucket list, but you’ll also be able to record your adventures. You should find that your musings on the items you achieve will encourage you to make the rest of your list a reality.
If working with pen and paper doesn’t really fit into your lifestyle, you can create a Word document or an Excel spreadsheet. Alternatively, create a profile on a site such as Bucketlist.org or BucketList.net.
Your online profile lets you make a list, keep a record of achievements, meet others who want to achieve life goals, and be inspired by their achievements. Their photos of a hike up a volcano, a Michelin-starred meal in one of the Shard’s restaurants, or a trip to a cocoa plantation may be the motivation you need to make your dreams a reality.
You can find similar tools, resources, and community spirit by using apps such as the BuckItDream app.
Give Your List A Name
We’re using the term ‘bucket list’, but there’s no reason you need to use it if it makes you uncomfortable or you find another term more inspiring. Whatever the name you choose, it should remind you that the contents are some of your most important goals and your greatest desires.
Making a bucket list ultimately isn’t about dreaming big things; it’s about doing big things. If you need some inspiration for choosing a name for your list, we suggest a variation on one of the following:
- My Lengthy List of Life Goals
- Inventory Of Dreams
- Meaningful Goals Checklist
- My Ultimate To Do List
- Amazing Life Experiences
Choose The Length Of Your Bucket List List
Before you start thinking about all sorts of lovely goals, we recommend you decide how long your list is going to be. This is not to limit yourself or your dreams. Instead, it’s to make your first bucket list more manageable, both in creating it and achieving what’s on it.
If you allow yourself to run rampant you could end up with a list of things so long, it suddenly seems completely unmanageable. By keeping it shorter initially, it will be easier for you to focus and your goals will seem easier to reach. 25 items appear much more manageable than 125. You can always add items later as you tick some off!
Break Down Your Bucket List
Putting all your goals in one list is fine if you cannot think of many things you are determined to do before you ‘kick the bucket’. However, if, like us, you have so many goals that it’s beginning to look like you may need several lifetimes in which to achieve them all, it’s a good idea to format your list.
When creating a bucket list, do it in bite-sized chunks. For example, you can dedicate one to travel bucket list ideas, another to adventures, luxury experiences, family or friends, and one to home goals. You could also create a list for smaller, more immediately achievable goals, such as dining at an award-winning restaurant.
Keep a separate list for goals that would take some time and/or effort to achieve, such as travelling from Moscow to Beijing on the Trans-Siberian Railway or learning to fly a helicopter. Other mini lists you can think about creating could be for goals to achieve before reaching a certain age, or for a specific season such as a summer bucket list.
Find Ideas For Your List
Now comes the fun (but tricky) part! The easiest way to find ideas for bucket list items is to think about the things you’ve always want to do. If you have wanted to see the pyramids of Giza, go on a safari or hike to Machu Picchu since childhood, write this down. Remember that’s you’re still in dreaming mode – no dream is too big or too small!
When you’re done adding the more obvious goals, expand on it by thinking of other things you would like to achieve. One way of doing this is to be inspired by other people who have achieved some of the things on their bucket lists, whether they be friends or people you follow on Instagram or Facebook.
If your heart skipped a beat when you saw their photos of a luxurious lodge in the South African bush or of a personalised fragrance they created with royal perfumers in London, you may have another item to write down.
Other sources of inspiration include magazines, your favourite Facebook pages or groups, and following bucket list hashtags on Instagram or Pinterest. Use the internet to your advantage and you’ll soon find plenty of ideas that appeal to you.
Even your favourite movies can be a rich source of ideas. Think about the locations that impressed you, activities the various characters did, and elements of the storylines. You may want to unleash your inner James Bond by driving a sports car on the open road. Or, you may find that you’re more of a period drama person and are dying to see what it was like to live in Dickensian times.
Get in Touch With Yourself
Creating a bucket list isn’t all about jotting down ideas based on other people’s dreams and achievements. Some people may dream of running with the bulls in Pamplona, but you may think that sounds pretty terrible!
Remember that your bucket list is exclusive to you and means that some self-reflection is important. Interviewing yourself is a great way to find inspiration for your bucket list. Ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- What cultures or cultural traditions fascinate you?
- What are your favourite regional cuisines?
- Are there any artistic activities or sports you’ve wanted to try?
- What personal adventure stories do you dream of sharing with your children or grandchildren?
- What experiences have you dreamed of sharing with your spouse or best friend?
- If you had 1 month left to live, what would you do?
If you feel like you have exhausted your inner sources of inspiration, get those who know you best to help you out. Ask a parent, sibling, your partner, or best friend about the goals or amazing life experiences they think you should aim to achieve. You may find that you completely agree with their suggestion of enrolling in a pastry class or going on a driving holiday on Australia’s Great Ocean Road.
If some of their suggestions puzzle you, ask them why they think you should add them to your list. You may find that, even though you don’t write down their initial suggestion, it inspires you to think of another goal.
Start Them Ticking Off!
When you’re done thinking of ideas, interviewing yourself, brainstorming with friends and recalling your childhood dreams, it’s time to turn your bucket list ideas into a reality!
When crafting a bucket list, you ultimately are doing it for yourself. Family or friends may appear in it as ‘supporting cast’, but you’re supposed to be the star of the show.
The goals and dreams you write down are yours.
The intention behind creating a bucket list is to help you focus on living life to the full. Its aim is to ensure that in your golden years you won’t have regrets about not doing the things you really wanted to.
Sometimes we get bogged down in the daily tasks that take up so much time, and we forget to think about the things that get us excited, invigorated and thrilled to be alive. Whether your list items are well-balanced and cover all your interests or they’re focused on luxury experiences, adventure travel, or foodie experiences and top-quality dining, they’re meant to inspire you.
Your bucket list can always be a work in progress. Keep it close at hand and refer to it frequently – it will help you stay focused on the things that really matter!