In January of this year (2018), I finally got around to creating a bucket list. A bucket list is a list of experiences and achievements that you hope will happen within your lifetime. These lists are nothing new, but they really seem to have gained popularity after the release of the 2007 movie titled, funnily enough, The Bucket List.
A bucket list is an intensely personal thing, and there is no right or wrong way to create one. However there are a lot of tips floating about the internet that can make creating your list a little easier. Here are some of the hints that I found particularly helpful when creating my list.
It doesn’t matter whether your list contains five items, or five hundred. What matters is that the items on your list are things that you truly want to experience or accomplish. Also, don’t feel that this list has to be rigid. As you grow and change, so should your list. If you no longer want to take that trip to Taiwan, feel free to remove it from the list. Conversely, it is perfectly acceptable to add new things to the list as you cross things off or gain new interests. My list is rather fluid. I add and remove items as the fancy takes me.
While technically a bucket list is a list of achievements or experiences you want to complete before you die (or kick the bucket), many people are refining this idea to suit their own circumstances. Rather than sticking with the concept of Things to do Before I Die, people have begun making time-specific lists such as Things to Do Before I’m 40 or Things to do in my 20s. I’ve gone with the original ‘lifetime limit’, but other time frames are perfectly acceptable alternatives, and you should go with whatever feels right to you.
If your list is particularly short, you may not need any divisions at all, but longer lists are easier to keep track of if you add a few headings. Once again, how you divide your list is up to you. Some people divide their list into ‘Experiences’, ‘Travel’ & ‘Life Achievements’. Others might go with ‘Education’, ‘Career’, ‘Dreams’ & ‘Goals’. Still others choose to divide their list into ‘Personal’ & ‘Professional’.
My bucket list is quite extensive, so I have divided it into three main categories: ‘Realistic’ — things like ‘start a bullet journal’ or ‘use a revolving door’; ‘Possible with Hard Work and/or Savings’ — things like ‘make a quilt’ or ‘drink a $200 bottle of wine’; and ‘Dreams’ — things that I hope to do in my lifetime, but realistically may never happen, like ‘buy someone a $2000 gift’ or ‘own a set of Harry Potter books with each book signed by one of the Ministry Six, with the seventh signed by J.K. Rowling’.
Each of these categories is then further divided into ‘Experiences’ (‘bet on the Melbourne Cup’, ‘sign my name with a quill’, ‘sleep in a castle’), ‘Food’ (‘try venison stew’, tell a waiter to surprise me’, ‘eat a meal in an English pub’), ‘Movies’ (‘watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘), ‘Music’ (‘listen to a song with my name in it’), ‘Books’ (‘re-read a book I recall studying in school’), ‘Karma’ (‘donate books to a prison’, ‘pay for a stranger’s groceries’), and ‘Belongings’ (‘own the Hogwarts Library Box Set’, ‘spend more than $150 on a single item of clothing’).
How, and even if, you decide to split up your list is up to you. It depends on the length of the list, which aspects of your list are important to you, and your own desires.
What to Add
Once again, what you add to your bucket list is specific to you as a person. However, I do have a few suggestions when narrowing down your choice.
Be true to yourself. Forget about what your Mum, your sister, your best friend, or your significant other think you should have on your list. This is your list. It’s about what you want to achieve or experience in your life, not what other people think you should want. If you think you might cop some flack for what is, or isn’t, on your list, keep it private.
Be specific. It is much easier to achieve a specific goal, rather than a vague notion of what you want to do. For example, instead of simply adding ‘visit Japan’, try adding ‘visit a maid Cafe in Tokyo’. Also, be clear about what you hope to achieve. You don’t have to visit Japan eat Sushi, for example.
Simplicity is key. There is nothing wrong with having difficult-to-achieve goals on your list. In fact, I encourage it. We all need something to strive for. However, you won’t stick with it if you literally never mark anything off, so make sure you also include some simpler, easier-to-accomplish goals as well. Things like ‘learn to use chopsticks’ or ‘read Harry Potter’, which you can tick off while saving for that world tour.
Search for ideas. If you genuinely cannot think of anything to add to your list, a simple google search will bring loads of inspiration. Just remember, only add things you genuinely want to accomplish; don’t add stuff just because it’s popular or the ‘in thing’.
Read it often. Checking your list on a regular basis is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Some people even write their list in a small notebook they can carry around with them for that very reason.
Finally, have fun. A bucket list is nothing more than a tool, meant to help make your life more fulfilling. It shouldn’t feel like a chore, or an obligation. If you aren’t having fun, it may be time to rethink what you have on your list, or even if you need a list at all.
That’s it folks. I hope you found this post somewhat helpful. Feel free to leave your own hints and tips in the comments below. If you’re looking for ideas, feel free to check out my bucket list by clicking on the links in the navigation menu. It’s fairly extensive, so your bound to find something that appeals to you.
The part about being true to yourself really struck a chord with me. I think we often get wrapped up in what we think we should achieve in life or what experiences we should have to feel like we’ve lived life to its fullest, but the reality is that we’re all different. I’ve definitely watched others do incredible things and wondered if I should strive to do the same, even if they’re not things I really want. We have to remember that our dreams and aspirations are always individual to us. Really insightful post!
I agree. I see so many lists that contain things like skydiving or running a marathon. Looking at the rest of the list, these often (not always, of course) seem so out of place that I tend to wonder if they really want to do these things, or just think they ought to want to. Being true to yourself is a difficult thing to learn in a society that rewards conformity. It is something I still struggle with.
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