Here’s a fun fact: the term “bucket list” entered pop culture–and thus our lives—in 2007 following the namesake movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
YES, a bucket list is technically “a list of things you want to do before you die”. Sounds kind of morbid, I know but bear with me here. It doesn’t have to be a negative (or even sad) thing.
In fact, maybe you’ve heard of “bucket lists” via the insanely adorable “Bucket List Family” courtesy of their endless journeys and adventures on Instagram. They’re living life to the fullest right here, right now—just because.
But you don’t have to follow someone else’s adventures… or wait until your days are few… to write out—and go for—a list full of things that will light you up, too. And even better? Every item on your bucket list doesn’t have to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Let me say that one more time for the ones in the back —–> Your bucket list can be full of small, approachable “to-do’s”… as long as they add something of value to YOUR LIFE.
And research actually backs this up. One observational study showed that participants easily lost focus on their goals if all of them seemed lofty (and in their minds, possibly out of reach). By mixing small and large bucket list items, you are able to achieve small wins while working towards the “holy-cow-is-this-real-life?” types of experiences.
So, yes, go climb Machu Picchu one day… but then also find joy in reading to a class of kindergarten students if that’s always been on YOUR LIST.
Why Do Bucket Lists Work?
Setting a bucket list is actually a healthy habit that can set the tone for your year—and life.
According to Psychology today, “goals can motivate us to accomplish things, but the most motivating goals are those that are hard and specific.”
This makes the point for actually writing down what you’re looking to do, rather than keeping it in your head privately. Additionally, this shows the importance of honing in on what exactly your goals are, so that ultimately, your bucket list says “run the NYC marathon” instead of “run a marathon”.
Do you see the difference?
More benefits for starting a bucket list include…
5 Reasons to Start a Bucket List
- To create memories…
- To learn something outside of your “normal”.
- To embrace different cultures, experiences or perspectives.
- To inspire yourself (and others).
- To feel alive.
How to Start a Bucket List
Have a piece of paper? A pen? GREAT—you’re all set!
Don’t overthink it… just start listing (or “brain dumping”) anything and everything you would want to do/see/accomplish in life. Choose if you want to do this alone, with just you and your thoughts while writing your list; alternatively, this could be a great exercise to do with your family, each making your own individual lists, as well as a family bucket list.
Another idea is to break bucket list items up by category: travel, health, career, money, food, family, etc. That’s totally up to you—if your brain works that way, GO FOR IT; if not, go ahead and make one crazy-beautiful list of unorganized goals with no rhyme or reason behind it.
Top 20 Bucket List Ideas
Need a little inspiration on creating your bucket list? Here are some ideas to get those goal-setting juices going. For the sake of this blog, I’m going to organize it into categories so you can easily navigate to something you’re craving in life. Where you see a ____________, feel free to fill in YOUR ideal choice.
Travel Bucket List Ideas:
- Go on a wild safari in ____________.
- Road trip across the United States starting on the __________ coast.
- Visit all the Major League Baseball parks.
- Do a cooking class tour through Italy.
- Watch the Northern Lights… while sitting in a geothermal hot spring… in Iceland… anytime from September to April… while enjoying a glass of ___________. (How’s THAT for specific?)
Career/ Money Bucket List Ideas:
- Scale to the top of your industry to be known as the go-to expert for __________.
- Work only FOUR days a week!
- Earn a minimum of __________ per year—STRAIGHT PROFITS!
- Donate ______% each month/ year to your favorite organizations: __________ and __________.
- Be asked to speak at the _______________ conference/ ceremony/ retreat, etc.
Family Bucket List Ideas:
- Dedicate 1 hour each weekend to supporting _____________ as a family.
- Create a family budget and chore plan… and stick to it!
- Create a family vacation bucket list (hello, beach vacay!)
- Eat dinner together at the table 4 times per week.
- Have game night once a week.
BONUS TIP: Create a new bucket list each year for every new season. For example, summer may include: go to a waterpark, make a backyard slip and slide, go camping, etc. For fall, it may say: go apple picking, carve pumpkins, make costumes from scratch, etc.
Health, Wellness and Personal Development Bucket List Ideas:
- Be the reason someone LAUGHS OUT LOUD every single day for one whole year.
- Go meatless on Mondays.
- Commit to 30 minutes minimum of movement a day, 3/ week, for a year.
- Get rid of plastic in your kitchen over the next three months.
- Eliminate sugar from your diet for ONE MONTH (to start).
How do you feel now? Inspired to tackle each day one adventure at a time? I would love to hear one of your bucket list items … leave a comment with the one you are most excited about!
You have one life, after all—you might as well LIVE IT. And love it.