The Ultimate Bucket List Resource Guide
Welcome to The Ultimate Bucket List Resource Guide. The following are the tips, tricks and resources that I have acquired and used in my several years as an avid bucket lister and new experience collector. It is my hope that this guide will give you the inspiration (aka: big fat kick in the butt) to make a your own bucket list and live a life filled with creating amazing memories.
What is a Bucket List?
Blow glass, eat croissants in Paris, snack on bugs, swim with sea turtles, see the Northern Lights, ride a mechanical bull or bungee jump? We all have goals and aspirations, things we have always dreamed of doing or hope we could experience in our lifetimes. Therefore, most of us already have a mental bucket list, just without the formal label.
A bucket list is a collection of goals, dreams and aspirations that you would like to accomplish within your lifetime.
The basic idea of a bucket list is to keep track of your goals and to take steps to achieving these goals in order to maximize the memorable experiences in your life. Simple. Right?
Where did the term “bucket list” come from? Contrary to popular belief, it was not from the 2007 Jack Nicholson movie “The Bucket List”. It actually comes from the phrase “kick the bucket” which is believed to originate sometime in the Middle Ages when execution by hanging was common and the executioner would “kick the bucket”. You get the idea.
Why Create a Bucket List?
A bucket list is not just an idle collection of your goals and dreams, it is so much more. My bucket list has been an inspiration to help overcome many of my fears, given me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, made me feel “alive” again and changed the monotony of my everyday life.
Sometimes the responsibilities of daily life gets in the way of experiencing new things or even thinking about what we really want to do in life.
Creating a Bucket List will focus your interests, provide structure and motivate you to step out of the box. It can expand your mind to new possibilities and make your dreams become a reality. Who wouldn’t want that?
And when we have our wishes written down, to refer to regularly, those dreams become more tangible. Sometimes, when goals are not recorded and easily accessible we tend to forget about them and in turn are not proactive.
Other Terms for “Bucket List”
Some people are freaked out by the term “bucket list” and its connotation to death (I am obviously not one of them). A bucket list is really about living life, not dying, so, you can name your list anything that makes you feel the warm fuzzies inside. Here are just a few ideas:
- Life List
- Dream List
- Life’s Aspiration List
- My Lifetime Goals
- Things to Achieve in My Lifetime
- My Life’s To Do
- Things to Conquer
- Amazing Experiences To Be Had
- The Life Plan
- My Life’s Must Dos
How to Make a Bucket List
There is really no right or wrong way of creating a bucket list. The items on the list can be as small as taking a new route to work or as big as climbing Mount Everest. Why not try milking a cow, rappelling into a cave, reading a classic novel or standing under a waterfall? Many of these items can be done in a weekend, but some will be lifelong journeys. Don’t worry about making each aspiration earth-shattering; sometimes the simplest goals are the most rewarding. For me zorbing in Barcelona was just gratifying as completing a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and decorating a tree to donate to the Rwanda School Project.
A huge aspect of a goal is the journey to its achievement and the feeling of accomplishment.
Sometimes starting your life list is the hardest part. So, let’s begin right now. Yep. NOW.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you along your way.
1. Set Aside Time to Brainstorm
One of the most important steps in creating a bucket list is writing it down. Pull out some paper and begin by writing all your hopes, desires and dreams. Stop scratching your head, you know you have them. Make sure you are only including items that are meaningful to you. Don’t just add bungee jumping or skydiving just because it is a popular item on everyone else’s list.
Don’t exclude anything just because you think it is too difficult or too easy.
My bucket list includes both long term goals as well as easier up-lifters. The list is all about having new experiences, getting the most out of life and living it to the fullest. Sometimes it has been as easy as hiking a new trail at a State Park and other times it has taken years for something like creating my own award winning business.
With that said, this list is not your daily to do list, it is meant for new, memorable experiences and the steps it takes to achieve them. “Get milk” should not be on it.
It is helpful to break your list into categories as you are brainstorming:
Also, ask yourself these questions:
- Where in the world would I like to visit?
- What types of new foods do I want to try?
- What are my career goals?
- What sports would I like to try?
- What events do I want to attend?
- What classes have I always thought about taking?
- If money or fear were no object what would I do?
- What ways have I wanted to give back?
- Who have I always wanted to meet?
There is no exact number of goals that should be on your life list, mine has well over 800, but I have seen many others that are under a hundred. I do recommend having at least 25, with varying levels of difficulty. This will help to keep you motivated.
Still need help with ideas? Scroll down to the Bucket List Examples/Ideas section.
2. Double Check Your List
After your uber inspiring brainstorming session, let your bucket list sit for a couple days and then go back to double check what you have with a fresh pair of eyes.
Hopefully, there is more than just smiley face doodles.
- Add any goals you may be missing, ask yourself the above questions again.
- Delete items that you added not because you wanted to, but because you thought they should be on there. Be honest with yourself.
- Remove anything that is impossible, truly impossible.
I am a firm believer that I can do just about anything that I put my mind to, but I also know my limitations. My window of opportunity for being an Olympic gymnast is over, besides the fact that I can’t even touch my toes and becoming a famous Country singer may involve not breaking glass when I sing.
Remember that your bucket list should be ever evolving just like your life. Over time your life changes and so will your dreams, goals and aspirations. As I am exposed to more of the world and connect with other bucket listers, enticing new ideas are continuously being added to my bucket list.
Don’t be afraid to add and delete, as long as both are done for the right reasons.
3. Pick a Place to Store Your List
After awhile, dozens of tiny pieces of scratch paper laying around the house will just not do for a bucket list. Your life goals at least deserve a really pretty journal. I started by recording mine in a simple Microsoft Word document, then graduated to a multi-tabbed Microsoft Excel file. But, now my list is located solely on my blog, which has been the easiest for me.
4. Share Your List
If you are storing your list online in one of the Bucket List communities then you are already sharing your list. But, you should also share it with your family, friends and even a couple of acquaintances.
Not only will your enthusiasm be contagious, sharing will help you to be held accountable for your goals.
After telling a few people, there is no doubt that someone like Aunt Kathy will ask you how you are coming along with “that bucket list thing” at your next family gathering. Either you will have an impressive adventurous story to tell her or it will give you the little push you need to get motivated.
5. Put a Deadline to Your Goals
A Life List is not helpful at all if it just stays a list forever. So, pick at least 5 things from your list and put a deadline of no longer than one year to them. This will give you motivation by knowing that there is a time limit.
I often pick 5-10 items and put deadlines of one week, one month or one year to each.
6. Pick One Item With a Deadline & Take Action
Select one goal with a deadline and, within the next 24 hours, take a step towards achieving it. It could be the tiniest of steps, as long as you are moving forward.
An easy way to do this is after you select your goal to work on, break it into several smaller goals. Sometimes when you are looking at just the big picture of a dream it seems impossible. But, when you break it into fifteen mini-steps, each one on their own appears more doable.
7. Stay Motivated
Motivation is something that can make your dreams come true…or not. It is completely natural for your ambition to be at different stages during the lifetime of your goal. It is important to dig deep and press on, especially when the outcome is not initially what you expect. Try to think positive, reward yourself for little triumphs, get support from friends with the same goal and be persistent.
Tips to staying motivate:
- Think positive. Challenge all your negative thoughts, replace them with positive ones. Try to stay away from dream squashers.
- Journal. Stay motivated by keeping a daily journal of the progress you have made and the thoughts related to that progress.
- Be clear. Define your goals so they are not “fuzzy”. Make your direction clear and concise.
- Go public. Make you commitment public so there is some accountability involved. You can do this by telling your friends & family or announcing it on a social website, such as Facebook.
- Commit. Stay motivated by making a commitment to do one step a day towards achieving your goal, no matter how big or small.
- Get support. Connect with someone who has your same goal or is a support system for you and share your experiences.
- Reward. Give yourself kudos for even the slightest progress.
- Persistence. Realize that hard work is the way to achieve goals. Be persistent in your efforts.
- Find inspiration. Stay motivated by reading about others who have achieved what you are trying to do.
- Share progress. Choose a forum to share your progress.
- Mini-goals. Break your one big goal into several little goals.
- Dream. Keep dreaming and visualize what your goal will look like when it becomes a reality.
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for the goal to magically happen, make it happen.
- Escape. Take a break from your goal every now and then.
- Have consequences. Decide what they will be for not moving forward towards your goal.
- Stick with it. Even when your motivation is lacking, pull through it. The motivation will eventually come back.
8. Take Opportunities for New Experiences
Lastly, just because you now have a bucket list does not mean you shouldn’t take advantage of new opportunities that randomly present themselves.
I am absolutely an avid bucket lister, but even more so, I am a passionate new experience collector. Just because something is not on my list, does not mean I shouldn’t do it.
When opportunity knocks, open the door. At least take a peak through the peephole to find out what’s behind there before flat-out saying “no”.
And always ask yourself this one question before passing up on an opportunity:
“Am I saying no to this opportunity because of fear?”
I ask myself this question EVERY time I am about to decline on an opportunity and 90% of the time it is out of fear. So, I make myself say “yes” instead. This has led to some of the most incredible experiences of my life.