There might be affiliate links in this post. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission. Read my disclosure policy here.
Bucket lists are all the rage.
Celebrity Will Smith has a show on Facebook devoted to his adventures globe trotting around the world and trying daredevil-like activities.
He jumped out of a helicopter that was flying over the Grand Canyon for his 50th birthday.
If you’re wondering what a bucket list is, why it’s important and how to make one, I’ll explain.
What is a Bucket List?
According to Macmillian Dictionary’s bucket list definition, a bucket list is “a list of things you want to do before you reach a certain age, or before you die.” It goes on to explain that it originally comes from the phrase ‘to kick the bucket’ which means ‘to die’. The words “bucket list” usually makes people think of a travel bucket list filled with far away places to visit such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France or taking an excursion through the canals of Venice, Italy on a gondola ride.
This might be because of the popular movie called The Bucket List where the two main characters were terminally ill and took off to fulfill their bucket list dreams. They visit the pyramids in Egypt, fly over the North Pole, visit Mt. Everest and more. Those are all worthwhile adventures we should strive to do, but it’s not the only way to look at a bucket list.
Bucket list ideas don’t have to be this extravagant. They can actually be much simpler like planning last-minute trip ideas nearby, reading the best books, or even watching the sunset. You can really just carry out something you’ve never done before, but would like to try.
Why a Bucket List is Important
Outside of being a trendy idea, a bucket list is important because it reminds you to do certain things while you are able. It also helps you put your time, energy and resources toward what you value. If you’re in college, that’s for a short phase of life. Maybe you want to live in a town like Boston for the summer, go away for spring break or skydive during those years.
You might also want to carry out some of the bigger ideas on your travel bucket list especially if you’re not yet tied to paying a mortgage or taking care of a family. This is just an example, but many phases of life are fleeting, though you don’t necessarily realize it at the time. You want to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.
I stumbled upon some sad research. Most Americans don’t take all of their vacation time. An article in CNBC explains that Americans only use about half of their days off. It’s important to relax, reboot and more fully enjoy your life. Studies show that “it’s good for you mental health.” It also helps reduce stress and your risk of heart disease.
It’s easy for years to fly by without setting a single fun goal like carrying out a bucket list idea. Author and Goals Coach Jill Koenig once said:
“If a goal is worth having, it’s worth blocking out the time in your day-to-day life necessary to achieve it.” Click to tweet.
Though we all have days when we’re just getting through the day, if you find that week after week you just work, come home, watch TV and get ready for the next day, it can’t hurt to be more intentional and set aside time to chip away at everyday bucket list goals you want to carry out. I go into detail about how to do this on an award-winning podcast entitled How to Make a Real Bucket List.
Start by taking time to think about what’s important to you. Tap into your interests. Get the wheels turning to come up with ideas. Maybe you think about all the things you’d like to do before a certain age like the definition suggests. Start thinking like a bucket list planner! Maybe you create a 30 before 30 list or a 40 before 40, etc. It can indirectly impose a deadline on you and help you focus on achieving what you’d like to do in the coming years.
How to Make a Bucket List
Many people just start writing down any idea that comes into their head. They brain dump it all out on one paper. That’s one way to do it. It’s a way to make sure you get everything off your mind and on paper. When people first start, it usually looks like a travel bucket list filled with places to visit and that’s fine.
Consider other everyday bucket ideas outside of travel to broaden the definition. Also, include other people such as your significant other, a family member or even your bestie. You can create different relationship bucket lists too. Maybe you use a bucket list for couples, a best friend bucket list, etc. The sky’s the limit. For example, my husband and I always wanted to try beach yoga. We finally got a chance to do it this summer.
Once you have a master list of achievable bucket list ideas down, you’ll have to choose what to do first. It can be hard to decide. It can’t hurt to start with something that you can do right away. Maybe it’s something you can do on a weekend or any other free block of time that you have. Think about the ideas you can carry out in the current month and write them on the free printable bucket list here.
Maybe you fill out one side and the person you plan to do the dream list ideas with can do the other. If you’d like more guidance, a bucket list book might be a better fit for you.
What is a Bucket List Book?
There are many books that will give you bucket list ideas. They are usually travel bucket list ideas or random ideas that someone came up with based on their experiences and interests in book form. Many of these books might be suited for digital nomads, travel bloggers or very wealthy people with flexible schedules. Some of them are popular, but they might not necessarily have any ideas you like or can afford to accomplish.
The bucket list book that I wrote helps you come up with your own realistic ideas both big and small. It also helps you carefully plan each step to make sure you achieve it. I even dedicated a section to help you prioritize what to do first based on important key factors. If you’re someone that struggles with following through, it will give you a step-by-step process to connect the dots and help you achieve your bucket list goals.
The Everyday Bucket List Book: 10 Step to Bring More Exciting Experiences to Everyday Life contains the step-by-step process I personally use. I tell you the exact, sequential steps to take in order to avoid going to the same places all of the time, how to go after what you truly want to do and follow an action plan that works.
I include ways to come up with short-term goals to carry out right away for a variety of price points as well as dream list ideas that might be more of a long-term goal you can look forward to doing at a later date.
I share the beginning chapter that starts off a little sad here to explain why I wrote this in the first place, but I promise it’s about having more fun. I include a separate chapter in the 5 Day Bucket List Challenge if you need a little push to carry out your personal goals.
There are also bucket list journals out there that allow you to write about what you did after a trip. They have space to record your memories. There are even bullet journals where you can draw pictures or create a checklist of things to do in the book and journal afterwards.
In an effort to inspire you to live a more fulfilling life and capture meaningful moments in written form, I’m in the process of creating a journal with self-reflection prompts that are designed to provoke more thought, increase happiness and keep the momentum going for carrying out future goals. Learn more about my upcoming bucket list journal or read why you should journal after completing your dream list ideas in the first place.