Your Bucket List

Try this: Close your eyes, clear your mind, and complete this sentence, “Before I die I want to ………. (fill in the blank). Whatever popped into your head is a great start to identifying items on your Bucket List! I’m sure there’s more than one thing that can complete that sentence for you, so let’s get to creating your bucket list!

Table of Contents

First off, a bucket list is simply a list of things that you want to do or experience before you leave this earthly world or “kick the bucket”.

Bucket List Woman with Eiffel Tower

A few years back, talking about your bucket list seemed trendy. Maybe because of the 2007 movie by the same name. The storyline follows two terminally ill men on their quest to check off as many things on their list before their impending death.

And many people still talk about making bucket lists and checking off their accomplishments.

Going to Salem

The reason that I started thinking about bucket lists is because of something my daughter said to me recently. She asked me to go on a girl’s weekend to Salem, Massachusetts with her and my granddaughter in October.

Now, if you are familiar at all with Salem, you would know that visiting this town in the month of October is just asking for a very stressful vacation.

Let me explain.

Salem is famous for its witch trials that occurred between 1692 – 1693. It has become even more popular due to the Hocus Pocus movie (which was filmed mostly in Salem). If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it revolves around the Halloween season, which of course, is in October.

So when I vacillated about going along due to the throngs of people who would be there, she said that going to Salem during Fall (and the Halloween season) has always been on her bucket list.

When she said she’d also like to go on a whale watch, I relented and started making plans.

And guess what? We had a great time! Salem has great people-watching. There were many costumes, street performers, and familiar sites from the movie.

Bucket List Salem MA
My granddaughter and I with Bewitched in Salem, MA

And the whale watching was phenomenal! Seeing huge whales surfacing and coming up and out of the water is awe-inspiring! If you’ve never done a whale watch before, put it on your bucket list. You won’t be sorry!

(Here’s a shout-out to Cape Ann Whale Watch. They do an amazing whale watch tour! If you ever get to Gloucester, Massachusetts, take their tour. You won’t be disappointed.)

My Own Bucket List

I have always had dreams and goals – things I wanted to do in my lifetime and places I wanted to see. But I never really considered putting these in a “bucket list”.

Traveling has never been high on the list of things I had to do. But I’ve been lucky as I’ve been to some truly memorable places.

And I’ve always said that once I’ve been there, I don’t have to go back. You know – been there, done that.

But I will make one exception. And that’s to go back to Ireland. I was there almost 20 years ago and loved it! I am definitely going back before it’s my time to leave this earth.

So, I guess I do have the start of a bucket list – just not a formal, written one.

Having a Dream

Your bucket list doesn’t have to be specifically to visit far away places.

And it doesn’t have to be things you want to do before you die.

It can be an achievement you want to reach before you’re 30, or 60, or even by the end of the year or during the upcoming Summer season.

It can include getting a college degree, doing something adventurous – like skydiving, own a business, retiring at 50, learning to ride a motorcycle, or break the world’s record for surfing the highest wave (which, by the way, is 86 feet).

A bucket list can include all of these dreams and can provide a vision for your future.

Why Have a Bucket List?

Life is busy. A lot of us are overworked, overstressed, and just overdone.

Many don’t have enough downtime to just relax. We look forward to the weekend and by the time we start enjoying our days off, it’s time to go back to the usual grind.

So where does a bucket list play into life?

Making a list of things you want to accomplish or places you’d like to visit, and checking off boxes, gives you a real idea of where you are in life. It can show that you are moving ahead or that you may just be stuck.

Having a bucket list, especially going through the process of writing a list, will provide motivation. Thinking about where you want to go in life can give you the kickstart to planning how to reach those goals.

The items on your bucket life are most likely, and should be, fun, inspiring, and exciting activities.

Think about it.

Maybe running up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art like Rocky is something you’ve wanted to do since you were a kid and saw the movie for the first time.

Maybe you’d like to backpack across Europe for a summer.

Or, you’ve always wanted to learn how to read music so you can play the keyboards.

Are these achievable bucket list items? I can’t answer that for you.

But isn’t it fun to think about the things that you want to do during your lifetime? Dreaming big and having fun thinking about all of life’s possibilities is a feel-good activity. It reminds us that life is, or can be, full of joy.

Having those positive thoughts reminds you that there’s more to life than work. And that life is short.

So, maybe it’s time to start that bucket list!

Your Bucket List

So, do you have a bucket list? Go ahead, pull it out of your bedside table or your desk drawer.

Oh, you don’t have it written down? It’s all in your head?

So, let me ask you another question. How many boxes on your bucket list have you ticked off?

Not sure about that either?

What do you think the chances are that you’ll accomplish the things on your bucket list if they’re nothing more than a passing thought that whizzes by in your head when you see a commercial advertising a Caribbean vacation?

Bucket List Activity

It’s time to develop a plan to achieve some checked boxes on your actual bucket list.

Here are some easy steps:

Step 1 – Write your list.

Find a quiet time to truly think about the things you have on your bucket list. Take that time to brainstorm, maybe just 20 – 30 minutes (don’t rush), and start listing things you want to do during your lifetime. Jot down places you want to see, goals you want to accomplish, pretty much what you want to do before you die (or what you want in the coming New Year).

Remember, this is your wish list. Try to focus on “your” wants only. Not something for someone else, although an item on this list can include another person.

Think about how this list makes you feel. It should be inspiring! Motivating!

Take some time to soak up what you’ve listed. Enjoy feeling excited about the possibilities.

Set the list aside for a bit and take the next step when you have alone time again.

Step 2 – Separate out your list items

Look at your list and divide your items into sections. You can use headings such as short-term and long-term bucket lists.

In your short term, place things that can be easily accomplished or can be completed in a shorter time frame.

If you’d like to see a certain movie that you’ve been putting off, that goes on the short-term list. Other things like dying your hair pink, tasting a decadent cheesecake from a well-known restaurant, or dancing in a Tik-Tok video can also go into this column.

On the other list, put the bigger dreams: a Hawaiian cruise, becoming a millionaire, or patenting your new invention. These may seem pie-in-the-sky dreams or just goals that will take a while longer to accomplish.

Again, take some time to digest what your new bucket list looks like now.

Are there things on the short list that you can do in the near future? Maybe this weekend?

Here are other ideas for titles on your bucket list:

  • Retirement years – things to do when you no longer have that 9 – 5 job
  • Work Life – advancements or achievements you want to accomplish
  • Education – courses you’d like to take, degrees you’d like to complete
  • Friends – things you’d like to do with your besties
  • Travel – places near and far that you’d like to visit
  • Movies – list of movies you’ve been wanting to see
  • Creative – learn to read music, paint, throw pottery, crochet

So far, I’ve only talked about your list. But you can have a list that includes others. Such as:

  • A couples’ list – things you and your significant other plan together
  • A parent/child list – plan what to do or places to see during summer break with your child/children in your life
  • A besties list – activities to do with best friends while on a girls’ weekend

These ideas prove that bucket lists can be used for almost any kind of activity, ways to spend time alone or with others, and just to have fun.

When you do accomplish something on your list, make sure you cross it off. And again, enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

Step 3 – List alternatives

This step should help you to feel a bit better about some of those pie-in-the-sky ideas on your list.

Let’s say you’ve listed singing with your favorite band in real life. Rather than being on stage with The Back Street Boys, attend one of their concerts and sing along while in the audience.

Here’s another: Walking through a real rainforest. Rather than flying to a foreign country to visit a rainforest, visit one in the United States. (I visited a rainforest in Puerto Rico – it’s breathtaking!)

Or maybe you’d like to step onto the field of your favorite sports team. You can check into a stadium tour during their off-season. I had the opportunity to walk onto the fields of both the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers as well as visit their locker rooms. Seeing the Lombardi Trophy up close is something special to a football fan!

So there are ways to reach your bucket list goals with just a bit of tweaking.

Step 4 – Devise a plan

The activity of developing a plan on how to accomplish one of your bucket list goals should be fun. Anticipating taking that trip, planning the sites to see, decadent foods you’ll taste, and experiencing culture in far-away lands is, in itself, exciting.

Once again, take some quiet time to do this activity.

Plot out some steps to take to accomplish your bucket list goal. You can get as detailed or leave as unstructured as you want.

Just the process of planning can bring a sense of accomplishment. It can certainly act as a motivator. And it should bring you closer to achieving that bucket list goal.

Vision Board

A vision board can help you to accomplish dreams and goals – which will be helpful in getting items crossed off your bucket list.

A vision board is a collage of pictures, inspiring words, and quotes, among other things, that represent goals you have for yourself or things you want in your life.

You create your board by cutting out pictures and inspiring phrases from magazines and placing them onto a board. The board is placed in a space that you can see it often. This keeps your goals in the forefront of your mind and helps you to stay focused.

Your vision board can also be created digitally so that you can post it as your wallpaper on electronic devices.

See more on vision boards in my Practice Gratitude post.

Final Thoughts

Developing a Bucket List can enhance your life and remind you to appreciate life’s experiences.

It can keep you feeling motivated and energetic because you’re working towards something.

It’s also a great feeling when you check off an accomplishment. And reliving all of the fond memories is also wonderful.

And don’t forget, your bucket list is never set in stone. Keep adding to it as you are inspired!

Bucket List layout

Sign up for email notifications of new posts at Dream. Explore. Discover You. You’ll also get access to the Dream Life toolkit where there are free journal pages, worksheets, and activities. Download the Bucket List printables to help you keep track of your own bucket list ideas.

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