It's always exciting when you have something to strive for, but when you have a bucket list it's like you have the ultimate to-do list to check off. It's jam packed full of exciting goals and dreams, and it sometimes can be difficult to build your bucket list into something achievable. It's just so hard not to get swept away with the possibilities of life! You can go to carnivale in South America and go pet lambs in Peru, then you can go wear expensive clothes in the streets of Paris and read in quiet bookshops in tucked away neighborhoods in Ireland. You can do something exciting like go diving into warm waters, or you can reach a big life goal like learn Italian or master the piano.
There's just so much to try! But how do you keep yourself in check and create a bona fide bucket list and not just a pipe dream type of wish list? The trick here is to be practical and systematic, just how you would be with any other goals. Sure these are more exciting than, say, achieving your next career milestone, but it's achieved in much the same way. I'll explain exactly how. Below are seven ways to build a bucket list you'll actually achieve.
1. Actually Give Your Activities Deadlines
Is going to Vietnam on your bucket list? Or going to go cook in Tuscany? Or publishing a book of poems? Or going on a camping trip solo to see the stars? When do you think you'll accomplish these goals? The usual knee-jerk answer is "some time soon."
Not good enough! To ensure your bucket list will actually make strides, schedule them in for your year. Granted you probably won't do them all in the span of a couple hundred days, but set goals on gaining strides on making them a reality, like "save X amount of cash" or "buy X amount of camping gear."
Lifestyle writer Justin Miller from Lifehack underlined the importance of planning out your goals, "I like Sundays to set up what it is I plan to accomplish. I typically dedicate days for certain tasks like exercise, cooking, research, writing, laundry, fun, or whatever else I have going on." Whether you set them weekly or quarterly, just make sure you have deadlines so you make real progress!
2. Find Ways To Make The Goals More Meaningful
While you wait to reach your bucket list goal, keep the fun going by making it more and more meaningful as you work towards it. Lifestyle writer Tatsuya Nakagawa from Lifehack offered, "Find ways to make each goal more meaningful. Include dimensions of quality within the items on your list. If you involve like minded people in group activities, you’ll likely get much more from the experience than if you don’t. For solitary pursuits, take steps to ensure you get the most from the experience."
Whether that means including other people to join you on your experiences, or really delving into the research and obsession that surrounds your decisions, if you constantly work on your goal it'll become a part of your life, rather than just a "some day" kind of thing.
3. Make A List Of Plans, Not Wishes
It's easy to come up with a bunch of wishes, but they hold no real substance if you don't actually have the intention to achieve any of them. For example, it's easy to say "I want to go diving off the coast of Australia," but it's a little iffy if you have no real intention of ever learning how to swim. Do you see what I'm saying?
Motivational writer David Cain from self development blog Raptitude, wrote, "Most life lists are wish lists. They’re a joy to make, but most are only good for an afternoon of giddy daydreaming. This is because the authors have no real intention to do the things they dream about." Don't create a bucket list of lofty daydreams — only write down things that you 100 percent want to try and achieve.
4. Keep The List Relatively Short
While there are about a thousand things I'd love to do in my whole lifetime, my actual bucket list has around six things. Why? Because it's easier to concentrate and plan for that way, and I always have the option to add more items on once I tick a couple off.
If you have a huge, intimidating list, you can only imagine how making that a reality will go. Caine recommended, "Remember, every item you add to the list is going to make the rest more difficult to some degree. You can accomplish a lot in one lifetime, but there is only so much time and money (and patience) to go around. The smaller your list, the more likely you will honor it." So stick to a handful of items you think you can achieve in the next three years, and work on those first.
5. Share It With People
The more you share your plans with others, the more connections you're opening yourself up to. You never, ever know when someone knows a a someone else they can hook you up with to help achieve your goal. Maybe you want to learn about wine at a vineyard for a long weekend — a pal could know a girl that's going next month. Maybe you want to learn how to play piano by the time you hit 30 — maybe a coworker knows someone who gives lessons.
As Gin Sander, author of The Big Bucket List Book: 133 Experiences of a Lifetime told Chicago Tribune, "It's one thing for you to secretly say to yourself, 'I'd really like to golf at St. Andrews someday.' What if you said that over a glass of wine with some friends? (Someone might say), 'You know, my brother-in-law is planning a trip, and there's an extra spot.' The more you put out there about what it is you want to accomplish, you not only hold yourself to a higher standard of accountability but you might also find people to join you in that goal, or help you achieve it." Seriously, networking like that acts serendipitously — share your goals!
6. Constantly Change Them
We as people change all the time — ideas, likes, goals, passions. So as a rule, our bucket list should be just as fluid. Don't be afraid to scratch things off or decide something isn't worth your time — that kind of honesty is freeing!
Nakagawa said, "Review list items often to make sure you still want to do it. The bucket list should be open ended. Maintain enough flexibility that you don’t become a slave to your own list. Make sure you keep working on adding new items while completing others." It's your passions and interests; feel free to alter them as you want.
7. Celebrate The Ones You've Accomplished
Say you really did go to Peru to pet a llama, or conquered your fears of flying and hand glided off a cliff. That's a huge, huge accomplishment! You made life work! So instead of tucking the memory away, celebrate the accomplishment with a little memento.
Behavior investigator Vanessa Van Edwards from science behavioral blog Science of People, recommended, "Collect items or keepsakes from each experience and display them on a shelf in your house or office–talk about great conversation starters." Another tip would be to create scrap books, print out pictures from the moment, or even gather your friends together and go for a big celebratory dinner. Whatever it is, let yourself revel in it.
You did something wonderful, and you should feel super proud!
Images: @mo.komar/ Instagram