A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” What you choose to include in your bucket list has no limits. It might have everything you want to do throughout your life, or just what you want to do this summer. Having a bucket list helps you focus on what matters most to you. And it’s always good to have goals to work toward.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Steps for Making a Bucket List
- Tips for Making a Summer Bucket List
- Tips for Making a Travel Bucket List
- Tips for Making a Kids Bucket List
- Tips for Making a School or College Bucket List
- Quick Bucket List Ideas or Inspiration
How do you make a bucket list you’re excited about? In this guide, we’ll take you step-by-step through making the best bucket list for your life, travel, summer, or whatever suits your needs.
Steps for Making a Bucket List
Have you ever said you’re going to do something only to never get around to it? This is an all too common feeling, but it doesn’t have to be your reality. Creating a bucket list is about much more than putting pen to paper. You also need to shift your mindset into one of action and accountability. Follow these steps below to create a bucket list that you finally stick to.
1. Decide on your medium
Before you start, you need to know how you’re going to make your bucket list. Some people like to write it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, while others prefer a digital list they can bring with them anywhere. Here are the most common ways to create your own bucket list:
- Google Docs - This is the simplest digital option. Google Docs is a digital word processor within the Google Drive cloud. With Google Docs, you can create a list of your must-do activities that’s accessible from any device around the world.
- Excel - If you prefer spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets is an option for your bucket list as well. Google Sheets is a cloud-based option if you want your digital bucket list accessible from any device.
- Paper journal - Some people prefer putting pen to paper. You don’t have to limit yourself to digital options if you like the traditional approach. Writing your bucket list in a paper journal brings your ideas to life.
- Social media - Finally, you can also publish your bucket list items publicly. Sharing your goals with your friends and family keeps you accountable. It also encourages others to create their own bucket lists.
2. Find inspiration
Once you’ve decided on your medium of choice, it’s time to find your inspiration. What makes you feel alive? What have you always wanted to do? Finding inspiration is easy. Talk to your friends and family. Step outside your comfort zone. A lot of people publish their bucket lists online, so there’s a world of information out there to explore.
A word of caution, however, to not let others' lists sway you too much! You need to find the right balance. Bucket lists are very personal. What you choose to include on yours doesn’t have to conform to any rules or expectations. Be true to yourself and your wants.
Read our guide on adventurous bucket list items for some inspiration.
3. Be realistic
When creating your bucket list, it’s important to be realistic. You should challenge yourself to think outside the box and do things that make you uncomfortable. Yet, be mindful of practical limitations and setbacks.
Don’t simply list off every wild thing you think of. If your bucket list is too far out of reach, you won’t feel motivated to take real action.
A good rule of thumb is to include a variety of things. Yes, there should be once-in-a-lifetime things, but that shouldn’t be the entire list. Some things should be easy to accomplish to build your momentum. Follow these prompts to set realistic yet exciting goals:
- What’s something that’s always scared you?
- What’s one of the craziest things you can (reasonably) think of?
- What changes would you like to see in your own life?
- What was your childhood dream?
- Is there a nice thing you always wanted to do for someone?
- What did you always want to learn?
- What would you do if you only had a year left to live?
4. List 10-50 items
Start by creating a list with 10-50 items. It’s okay if you can’t think beyond ten things. A bucket list is dynamic. It’s always evolving, and you can always add more things. Just put pen to paper (or start typing) and get started.
A good goal is to list between 10 and 50 things to do. Any more than that might feel overwhelming. Be intentional with the things you list—don’t simply add things because they’re common bucket list items. Make sure they really mean something to you personally. Refer to those prompts above for inspiration.
5. Keep yourself accountable
Now it’s time to keep yourself accountable. Creating your bucket list is only one side of the story. You have to make sure you actually do everything, too. You won’t always feel motivated to complete your bucket list. How will you make sure you continue pushing forward?
The best way to keep yourself accountable is simple — talk about it. Tell your friends and family about your bucket list. If you created a digital list, share it with someone you trust.
When you tell people you’re going to do something, you build security. Talking about something is the first step to achieving action. Your bucket list items might not seem real on paper. When you talk about them as goals, they turn into real-life plans.
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6. Set dates and get started
You don’t need to wait for the future to begin tackling your bucket list. Start today! Set dates to do these things. Don’t just write down the things you want to do, but start planning them out. If you want to travel to a nearby city, decide on the best day to do that in the next month. Make these plans a reality.
The hardest step is the first one. You’ll soon discover that checking things off your bucket list is addicting. Soon, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your next trip, your next after that, and so on. Get specific with your planning. You’re much more likely to accomplish things if you’re clear and specific.
Tips for Making a Summer Bucket List
Summertime is the best time to start your bucket list. We’ve all felt how fast-paced summertime is. In the blink of an eye, it’s suddenly over. Creating a bucket list makes the most of every summer moment.
- Keep it close to home: Because this is a summer bucket list, make it realistic. You still likely have responsibilities like work, family, and so on. Think of things you can easily accomplish in a seasonal time frame.
- Look for local events: Your summer bucket list is a chance to explore your city in a new way. Are there any local happenings you can join?
- Go on a trip: Take a summer break! Whether you take a journey across the ocean or across your own city, get out of your comfort zone.
- Join others: Your bucket list doesn’t have to be for you alone. Include others in the fun and planning.
- Celebrate: As you accomplish things on your bucket list, celebrate your progress.
Tips for Making a Travel Bucket List
Where do you want to explore? How will you break away from your daily routine? Here are some tips for creating a travel bucket list that’s within your reach.
- Break down big goals: A goal like “go to Bali” might be too intimidating on its own. Instead, break it down into smaller steps like “book a flight, plan a hotel stay, etc.”
- Use a map: For travel bucket lists, you can think outside the box. One fun idea is to use a map to mark everywhere you’ve been and everywhere you want to go.
- Be specific: It’s easy to say “visit Paris,” but this isn’t a very inspiring bucket list item on its own. Be specific! For Paris, perhaps you want to dine in front of the Eiffel Tower or see your favorite paintings in the Louvre. These are experiences worth dreaming about.
- Stay flexible: When you’re flexible about travel arrangements, you land better deals and try new things. If you’re willing to travel during the off-season or on a random weekday, you can stretch your travel bucket list further.
- Write your own obituary: Inspiration can come from the most surprising places. Writing your own obituary is an exercise that makes you question how you want to be remembered. It encourages you to try new things, learn from others, and be the person you want to be.
- Join travel programs: Join travel programs and loyalty programs to make your dream a reality. Since you’re committing to traveling often, make sure you’re rewarded with the best deals.
- Follow travel bloggers: Commit to staying inspired by following your favorite blogger’s journeys online.
- Focus on the journey: As the saying goes, travel is about the journey, not the destination. Avoid thinking of your trips as a way to check something off your list. Be mindful of the experience itself.
Tips for Making a Kids Bucket List
Kids can also make a bucket list to highlight some of the things they want to do. Having a bucket list to look forward to, whether there’s a school break or new year ahead, beats boredom. Including your children in the excitement of creating a bucket list is a great way to encourage family bonding, educational fun, and so on.
However, the idea of a bucket list is often new to kids. When making a bucket list for kids, you’ll have to consider the things they enjoy. The list should have things that challenge them, things they look forward to, and practical ideas. Here are some tips specifically for kid-focused bucket lists:
- Time of year: First, consider the time of year. A seasonal bucket list, like one for the start of a new school year or winter break, are a great way to include kids in the year’s activities.
- Budget: Kids don’t always have a big budget (or any budget at all). Keep the focus on activities that are cheap or free, especially if they’re doing some of these things alone.
- Transportation: Also pay close attention to the transportation required for any items on the list. Most kids need their parents for transportation, so these should be activities at home or close to home.
- Education: Consider educational elements for your bucket list, like a trip to the museum or a day spent exploring the backyard.
- DIY: Who said bucket lists have to be boring? Have your kid spruce up the list itself for a fun DIY activity.
Tips for Making a School or College Bucket List
Whether you're a new student or going to college for the first time, there are so many ways to add excitement to the semester with a school or college bucket list. Though the school year is often all about studying, exams, and juggling numerous tasks, you can add some fun and challenges with a bucket list.
A school bucket list is a great idea for families looking to get their kids excited about the upcoming school year. They also are perfect for the classroom, and they make a great teacher-led activity. Even college students can benefit from a bucket list; just follow these tips below:
- Learning goals: The focus of every school or college bucket list should be on learning goals, like expanding one’s understanding or reading a certain number of books.
- Friendship: Encourage friendship, collaboration, and togetherness by including tasks like “Make a new friend.”
- Events: There are always events throughout the school year, and these are a fun way to feel connected to your organization. They make the perfect addition to any bucket list.
- School spirit: Ramp up your school pride with some spirit-focused items, like attending a sports game or wearing school colors.
- Mementos: School is a magical time, but it’s also brief. Include activities to help you remember just how special this experience is in the future, like journaling, writing a letter to your future self, or making a photo album.
Quick Bucket List Ideas or Inspiration
Last but not least, let’s share some quick bucket list ideas or inspiration. These are a great way to start building your own bucket list. While creating a bucket list is a highly personal decision, there are some options that are always a good fit. Let these ideas inspire you below to build your own personal list.
One of the most popular bucket list topics is around travel. Seeing the world is a goal of many, and it’s true the world feels smaller every year. Whether you hope to stay close to home or travel far and wide, here are some quick bucket list ideas for your travel list:
- Visit a national park
- See the 7 Wonders of the World
- Visit a theme park
- See a volcano up close
- Go camping
- Rent a car abroad
- Sail to an island
- See the northern lights
- Go on a road trip
You can also have a career-focused bucket list. This is an effective way to push yourself to achieve more in your daily life, so it’s worth considering what career goals are meaningful to you. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Become a mentor to someone else
- Ask for a pay raise
- Give a public talk
- Get a promotion
- Save for the future
- Travel for work
Who said bucket lists had to be all work and no play? These fun ideas below make life more exciting, whether you do something spontaneously or plan it out in advance. Here are some exciting things to do in your lifetime:
- Get a tattoo
- Adopt a pet
- Move to a new city
- Attend a music festival
- Create artwork
- Run a 10K
- Sleep under the stars
- Fall in love
Last but not least, why not give back with your bucket list? There are so many ways to make the world a better place, even if it’s just in a small way. When you include giving back on your bucket list, you focus on the things in life that really matter. Here are some ways to do good:
- Volunteer at a food bank
- Organize a fundraiser
- Register to become an organ donor
- Do a random act of kindness
- Donate your old clothes
- Give blood
- Participate in a charity run
- Plant a tree
Start Your Own Bucket List
Creating a bucket list helps you make sense of your own goals. Whether you’re just planning for the summer or you’re creating a list for the next decade, make sure your bucket list is meaningful to you. You have so many options for how to create your bucket list and share it with others. Let this be a chance to discover your own dreams.
These step-by-step tips above set you up for success with your own list. What do you want to do before you kick the symbolic bucket? Better yet, why not start right now?
For more help with planning, learn how to create your own end-of-life planning checklist.