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?
photo: swim with sea turtles
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.
photo: walk across Abbey Road in London
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.
photo: zorbing in barcelona, spain
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.
photo: Kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland
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.
photo: ziplining in costa rica
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.
There are also several online Bucket List community websites where you can keep your list and engage with other bucket listers.
Bucketlist.org is a place where you can record your life’s ambitions, chronicle your accomplishments, get inspired by other members goals and encourage people to accomplish their goals.
Day Zero is an online community for people who love creating lists, setting challenges and making positive changes in their lives.
The ReaperList.com is an activity based online community, a place to put together your life list, meet others, add stories and prove it all with photos.
BucketList.net is another community were the ideas seem endless. What I like about this one is the “swap” tab where you can ask for help in achieving a goal.
Which online community is the best? Though I have dabbled in them all, I am not an active user of any. But, if I was going to be, my first choice would be BucketList.net because of its swap feature, appealing design and ease of use.
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.
photo: drinking at an ice bar
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.
For example, a goal of kissing on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris could be broken down into the following steps:
- Research best time for Paris travel
- Find a hotel in Paris
- Research flights to Paris
- Request time off from work
- Renew Passport
- Order outlet adapters
- Research transportation methods to the Eiffel Tower
- Call credit card companies to make aware of out of country travel
- Exchange currency
- Print all traveling documents
Assign each of these mini-goals a deadline of a day, a week, a month or year.
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.
I say “yes” to unplanned opportunities when they present themselves, like when a total stranger invited me on a Playboy style cruise to Mexico. In this case, if I would have let my insecurities rule my mind, I would have missed out on attending my first all-white party, seeing the La Bufadora blow hole, eating cactus tacos and forming a new friendship.
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.
Bucket List Examples/Ideas
If you are struggling for ideas for your own list feel free to use anything from my bucket list or from my post of 48 Inspiring Bucket Lists that I Stalk.
Still not enough inspiration? Check out these example lists:
Bucket List Bloggers I Love
There is a strong bucket list blogging community that I am so happy to be a part of. We help to inspire and support each other. Here are my favorite bucket list bloggers:
- Emma’s Bucket List | Emma started her life list after losing both of her dads within nine months of each other.
- Jon Maiden | Jon is undertaking some incredible bucket list worthy challenges to raise money for cancer research.
- Life Listed | Not only is Danny an SEO whiz, he is a master at achieving his life list goals.
- Travel Destination Bucket List | Anita is a travelholic with a sense of adventure and a bucket list
photo: Hit a Clay Pigeon While Skeet Shooting
Bucket List Books
Writing down the things you’d like to see and do before you die can be a fun experience. But simply writing a Bucket List and never actually doing anything on the list is a lesson in futility and frustration with yourself. Why can’t you ever reach your goals?
Don’t beat yourself up – get out there and live life! Author Annette White has made a second career out of writing her bucket list… and then crossing things off of it! One day this owner of a Michelin-recommended restaurant in Northern California decided to live her dream. On her popular blog, bucketlistjourney.net, she has chronicled her adventures on virtually every continent — from walking among wildebeests in Africa to climbing an active volcano in Guatemala to swimming in a lake in Palau surrounded by thousands of jellyfish. In Bucket List Adventures, she takes you along for the ride, and shows you how to live your adventures, too.
Bucket List Adventures is not only a practical travel book – sharing detailed information on lodging, helpful resources, etc. – but also an inspiration for people to step out of their comfort zones. In short, Annette helps readers to create their own Bucket List, and then she gives them the tools and encouragement they need to live that list. An extensive appendix includes information about 50 additional places to consider for your future adventures.
Imagine the sense of accomplishment and excitement when you finally reach your goals, and Bucket List Adventures wants to help you get there.
The Wish List, Barbara Ann Kipfer Written by the same author as 14,000 Things to be Happy About, The Wish List is a catalogue of close to 6,000 unexpected goals, everything from write a love poem to watch the sun set over Machu Picchu. The best part about this book is the massive amount of aspirations that are listed, you’ll be sure to find quite a few to add to your own life-to-do-list. They even include blank spots for you to incorporate anything they might have missed. The problem is that the goals are not categorized in any way, so make sure you mark everything you are interested in the first time around because you most likely won’t be able to find it again. The Wish List is strictly a “list” book, if you are looking for inspirational anecdotes or educational information, this is not the one for you.
101 Things To Before You Die, Richard Horne One of the most popular of the bucket list books, This one features 101 of, what seems like, the most popular bucket list goals, such as, see the space shuttle launch and ride the world’s biggest roller coasters. This is a fun life-to-do List book with journal space to keep track of goals achieved, star stickers so you can reward yourself upon completion and informative factoids about each one. Once completed, it can be kept as somewhat of an autobiography of your adventures. The only negative is, due to the limited amount of goals, you most likely will just use this as a supplement to your own list.
2,001 Things to Do Before You Die, Dane Sherwood 2,001 Things to Do Before You Die is a handy check list that is the shorter version of The Wish List (mentioned above). Just like Kipfers book, this is just a list of goals with sporadic inspirational quotes throughout. Some of the aspirations are redundant (ie: get call waiting & get rid of call waiting) and highly unlikely (like waking up next to Brad Pitt). If I had to choose between the two bucket list books, I would opt for The Wish List instead.
This Book Will Change Your Life, Benrick This book is a highly illustrated guide for living a hysterical life for the next 365 days. If you are looking for one of the bucket list books that is filled with kooky, fun goals than choose this book. For instance, on Day 84 you will throw away an apple core in a park, mark the spot and come back in 20 years to see your apple tree and on Day 197 you will improve your signature. This may not be the inspirational bucket list you are looking for, but it will prove to be amusing and entertaining.
1,000 Places to See Before You Die, Patricia Schultz This book is the Big Daddy of all life lists for travel. If you have ever thought about going there, it is probably listed here. It is a hard core reference book, that has just as much information as inspiration. This is a tightly researched guide, which includes intriguing trivia and photographs. The only issue is trying to decide where to go on your first adventure; Halong Bay, Lizard Island Resort or Manual Antonio National Park?
Phew…you made it to the end of The Ultimate Bucket List Resource Guide. You must be kind of serious about this whole bucket list thing. That makes me really happy to hear because your ambitions will make you feel alive and your accomplishments will remind you that you are worthy of living your best life!
Remember, it is never too late to begin planning, you are not too old (or young) and “having time” is only a matter of priority.
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