Step 1. Name Your Bucket List
Due to the bucket list meaning and definition, some people have some strong emotions about the term, mostly because it is a reminder of their own mortality. But, making a bucket list is really about living life to the fullest with all the hours you have left on Earth. With that said, you don’t have to feel obligated to name your list a “bucket list” you can call it 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
- Meaningful Life Goals
- Things to Conquer
- Amazing Experiences To Be Had
- The Life Plan
- My Life’s Must Dos
Step 2. Find a Place to Store Your Bucket List
One of the most important steps in creating a bucket list is recording it somewhere. Sounds simple, right? But even so, most people miss this critical step. Recording your list represents a sincere commitment, turning them into tangible goals—doable aspirations to work toward instead of wishful thinking.
Studies have shown that people are 33 percent more successful with achieving their goals when they write them down, share them with the world, and are held accountable with weekly updates.
In the beginning I used a small, green notebook with the words “bucket list” on the front, and then upgraded to a simple Microsoft Word document. Afterward, it graduated to a multi-tabbed Excel file. Now my over 1,000 goal list is located solely online on my blog, which has been the easiest for me. Not only is it conveniently accessible, but it also holds me accountable by being visible to the universe. There are also many phone apps and online bucket list websites where you can record your list and share it with others. Here’s a couple apps & communities:
Another community to show you how to your make your bucket list, where the ideas seem endless. What I like about this one is the “swap” tab where you can ask others for help in achieving a goal.
- iWish App
The iWish app helps you discover your dreams with over twelve hun- dred bucket list ideas, then assists you in achieving them. You can create reminders, prioritize goals, and even make your own vision board.
3. Pick the Length of Your List
The length that you create your list is also ultimately up to you; there is no magic number of goals that should be on it—you cannot put limitations on something that is meant to unravel your dreams. With that said, I do recommend having at least twenty-five objectives to start, with varying levels of difficulty. They can be as small as hiking a new trail at a local park or as big as running a marathon—some will be checked off in a weekend, while others may be lifelong journeys.
Including short-term goals that can easily be completed will give you a sense of accomplishment and help to keep you motivated for the ones that may take years. By continuously working toward (and checking off) your goals, you will turn the sense of achieving into a good habit.
If your list gets too long (like mine that has over 1,000 goals on it!) then you can break it up into smaller bite-sized chunks with deadlines.
Keep in mind that if you are putting a deadline to your entire bucket list, then it’s not really a bucket list by definition, because your lifetime is the deadline.
With that said, setting deadlines for a select group of goals can help escape the “someday” syndrome, a common excuse for why you won’t begin today because you will get to it someday. The goals you choose to currently work on should have a deadline different than “in your lifetime,” as it will create a sense of urgency to propel you forward.
Push yourself, but also be realistic with your deadlines.
If you have just accepted a demanding new job that will require six months of training, then your dream of going to a month-long silent retreat in Bali may have to have a longer deadline than a year. Spend some time calculating what is practical: if you are committed to a half year of training for your position, then allow yourself three months for full transition into the new position after the training period. Then assess how long it will take you to complete the goal from this point, and that’s what your deadline should be, keeping in mind that you will be able to complete little steps along the way.
I recommend creating mini-lists within your main list, for example:
- Seasonal Bucket List – Some items will only be able to be done in certain seasons, like seeing the tulip fields in Holland or dogsledding in Greenland. Each year create a winter, spring, fall or summer bucket list.
- This Year’s Bucket List – Instead of making a New Year’s resolution, on the first of the year break your list down to the items you want to complete in the next twelve months.
- 30 Before 30, 40 before 40, or 50 before 50 – Choose goals that you want to do before reaching a certain age.