How to Build a Bucket List You’ll Actually Use


A well-crafted bucket list is a beautiful thing full of wonder and excitement. These lists are born of dreams, and turn goals into realities. They help us keep our eyes on the bigger picture, remind us not to take life so seriously, and encourage us to always live adventurously.

While just about anyone can benefit from building a meaningful bucket list, it’s specifically a wonderful tool for anyone struggling with grief, depression, or anxiety. Bucket lists have the power to pull us out of a funk and be the guiding light that places us back on our paths. They’re a source of purpose, direction and above all, hope. But, only if they’re built to work.

You see, not all bucket lists are made equal. Slapping a list of hopes together will do little more than waste a sheet of paper or two. It must be built properly if you want it to work. Here are a couple of tips and bucket list strategies designed to help you build your best bucket list ever.

Dare to dream

To begin building your bucket list, let your mind wander as far as it wants to go. There will always be reasons not to put an item down on your list, but if you’re self-editing already, you may be self-limiting. Big or small, list them all! You can cut some out later.

Find meaning in your items

Yes, list everything and everything you want, but be intentional. List only the items that you feel are truly experiences you want. Irrelevant items will make your bucket list less meaningful and therefore hurt your drive to complete it.

Build sublists

Long bucket lists can feel a bit daunting. If your list grows and grows, try organizing your goals by breaking them down into sublists. For example, organize your list into items to accomplish in your 20s, 30s, 40s, for summer, for winter, international items, whatever trends seem to emerge. Go with it.

Build with a buddy

Bucket lists can be very personal, but they can also be a lot of fun when shared with an adventure buddy! A partner, a best friend, a sibling, anyone who shares your goals and drive to accomplish them. If they help you check items off your list, lean into.

Recheck, rewrite, refine

A bucket list is never complete. You will be forever be checking off items, removing some and adding others. That’s the nature of bucket lists. They’re always in a state of flux, always incomplete. But, that’s part of what makes them fun! You never know where you may end up next. Keep updating as you go to keep your goals fresh and relevant.

Be a yes man

Here’s a lesser known secret: an item can be added to your bucket list… after you’ve done it! Sometimes, you won’t even know it’s a bucket list item until it’s done. When an adventure presents itself, be open. Even if you’d never thought of it before, it could end up being a great experience that you cherish for the rest of your life. Say yes to opportunity and see where it can go.

Keep a list of accomplishment 

One of the most common pitfalls of a bucket list is that you risk bouncing from one finished item to the next without luxuriating in the success of the completed goal. That’s why it’s important to also keep a list of accomplishments. Each item checked off our bucket list is one you should be proud of. Savour them and allow them to fuel your future adventures.

Be patient

Your bucket list will be with you for life. If an adventure doesn’t work out, don’t fret. Have fun and remember, as cliche as it is, it’s about the journey, not the destination.Be committed to each item and believe that you’ll get to them as soon as you can.

With these tips, you’ll be ready to take your bucket list out into the world and crush it. Good luck and happy adventuring.

Need some extra inspiration? Here’s a few bucket list thought starters to help you get going:

  • Backpack through Europe
  • Get your scuba diving licence
  • Learn a new language
  • Drive cross country
  • Adopt a pet
  • Learn to cook a new meal every week
  • Go skydiving
  • Learn to snowboard
  • Complete a 10,000 piece puzzle
  • Get a matching tattoo with a friend
  • Read a book a month
  • Take guitar lessons
  • Write a novel
  • Explore Ireland by bike
  • See the 7 wonders of the world
  • Buy property
  • Travel solo
  • Try geocaching
  • See the northern lights
  • Mountain bike in Whistler
  • Eat at a new restaurant every month
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Volunteer with kids or animals
  • Visit Wizarding World in Orlando
  • Skinny dip (fresh or salt water)
  • Learn to knit
  • Go back to school for something fun
  • Say I love you to someone once a day
  • Ride a mechanical bull
  • Float in the Dead Sea in Israel
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Get lost in a foreign country
  • Complete a marathon
  • Support a charity
  • Reconnect with an old friend or loved one
  • Get a wild haircut
  • See the cherry blossoms in Japan
  • Bungee jump
  • Get your M licence
  • Start an art collection

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Bucket List You’ll Actually Use

  1. I’ve made a few bucket lists in the past but this guide has helped me understand why they weren’t working for me. In particular: “Irrelevant items will make your bucket list less meaningful and therefore hurt your drive to complete it.”

    Liked by 1 person

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