What is a Bucket List?
So, what is a bucket list? It’s a list of anything and everything that you want to see, do, try, take part in, experience, or accomplish in life. Each list is unique to the person making it and can be as broad and as varied as you want it to be.
The official dictionary definition of a bucket list is:
a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.
There are no rules in how you want to live your life, except the rules that you make for yourself. Your bucket list should reflect those rules, your personality, your desires and your hopes for yourself.
Why Should You Have a Physical List
It will serve as a reminder
We all have things we want to do or dream about doing. Yet, so often we also forget. I’m advocating to have a physical list that you continuously update so that it can serve as a reminder of all the things you want to do. I, for instance, have my bucket list on a note on my phone. Anytime I come up with something new, I’ll add it on. This way there’s no forgetting and, in a pinch, if you need inspiration or ideas for a trip or an activity to do with friends, you can consult your list!
In addition, by having reminders, you also will have the ability to plan ahead on the bigger ticket items. For instance, you want to see Carnivale in Rio? You gotta plan ahead. Want to see the Northern Lights? You must request off work ahead of time.
Having a physical bucket list, I think, can help with making you accountable for your goals. Once it’s written down, that’s it, it must be done. Also, if you share your note with friends or family, then there’s even more accountability to ensure that you take steps to check things off.
What Goes on Your Bucket List?
As I mentioned before, your bucket list should include anything and everything you want to do in life. To make it more specific, think of things in these categories:
Places to see
Which countries would you like to visit? Any historic monuments that strike your interest? Or perhaps you want to create a list that includes the 7 wonders of the world. These places don’t need to be fancy or crazy or remote, they just need to be places that make you curious about the world and drive your determination to cross it off!
Things to buy
It doesn’t matter how frugal you are, we all have material items that we love. For instance, I really do love clothes and jewelry and shoes. I have friends who are obsessed with handbags and like to splurge there. I’m not advocating for filling your life with material items, I’m saying that you should figure out what it is that truly drives you, even from a materialistic standpoint and make it a goal to attain.
For example, maybe it’s a really expensive brand you’d like to be able to own something from or maybe it’s a rare collectible item you want the privilege of obtaining.
Experiences to have
What do you want to try? What do you want to experience? A crazy concert? A class that teaches you a new skill? Something daring like bungee jumping or sky diving? Do you want to become scuba certified? Or perhaps you want to experience things like once in a lifetime concerts or attend tapings of your favorite shows.
Or maybe its something smaller, like going out to eat solo? Or perhaps having the courage to go out on a blind date. Maybe the experiences you add to your bucket list are things that push you out of your comfort zone and force you to grow.
Feelings to attain
This is a little more tricky to add to your bucket list. We all approach life differently and our approach is shaped by our upbringing, situations, and current work/life trajectory. So the feelings you currently have in regards to your life and your experiences can be very variable.
No matter what your baseline is, however, I think it’s worth striving for some things just to see how you will react or feel once you’ve accomplished them. What do I mean? For instance, the feeling you get when you pay off your loans. Some people feel like a weight is lifted off their shoulders. How will you feel once you’re done?
What it feels like to fall in love. For some people it’s a slow descent into their relationship; for others, it’s super quick and they have their aha moment.
What it feels like to become a parent for the first time. Not everyone reacts the same way to this one.
Figure out what emotions you are hoping to have to certain life events or find those moments where you’re curious about what your reaction would be. It’s certainly a different way to build onto your bucket list and will be very uniquely you.
Life goals to accomplish
We all have goals for ourselves, our jobs, our lives. Maybe it’s achieving a certain fitness level, or obtaining higher education. Maybe you want to buy a home at a certain age? Or perhaps become an expert in something?
Whatever your goals are, and however grand, write them down.
How Do You Make These Things Happen?
Completing items on your bucket list can be hard work, depending on what you have on there, and it can be expensive, especially if it’s all travel related. This is especially true if you have high-end goals or are on a budget.
Want to travel a lot? Start with small weekend getaways close to home that are more affordable or within budget. Groupon and Living Social can help reduce expenses as well as traveling in the offseason.
Find a Friend
Alternatively, find a friend with a similar goal or bucket list item and see if they will come with you and share in the costs.
As I mentioned before, sharing your bucket list with friends or family can help with accountability; it can also help with completing your goals. Having the emotional support for attaining those life goals or the encouragement to really try those things that push you out of your comfort zone, can go a long way to ensuring those items get crossed off!
Set reasonable timelines
As with anything, getting motivated and getting in the habit of doing something should begin with small steps. For instance, pursuing a degree? Take it one day at a time, one test at a time, one class at a time.
In addition, remind yourself that you will not be completing a bucket list item every day, every week or even every month. Depending on the items, set reasonable timelines for yourself. For instance, for those travel-related goals, tell yourself you’ll do it at least once per year. For experiences, depending on your budget, maybe you can do one every month or every quarter.
So long as you keep that list handy, you’ll always have inspiration when planning your life events and filling in your vacations, weekends and time off.
Keep an eye out for deals
For those fancy purchases, trips and tickets, you want to check regularly for deals and availability. Find those online websites or portals that give you the relevant information and keep an eye out for times and prices that work for you.
By doing this routinely, you’ll increase your chances of actually following through with bookings and completing that bucket list!
A bucket list is a simple way to keep track of all that you want to experience and accomplish in life. The sooner you make one, the sooner you can be on your way to completing those items. Life is meant to be lived, starting now…Not starting after your degree or after you get a job or after you get married.
Until you start putting yourself out there, you won’t know what it is that you are truly capable of, or curious about. One experience can lead to you wanting to do more like it; or maybe you’ll learn that you hate it and want to try the opposite. For instance, I did camping and trekking to Machu Picchu. I’m forever grateful for the experience and it taught me so much about what I’m capable of, however, I quickly learned that camping is not for me. I will participate in it again if it involves a once in a lifetime opportunity, however, I actively avoid camping for fun. Until I tried it though, I had no idea how I felt about it. I also learned from that trip how much I enjoyed fulling immersing myself in another culture. Many of my trips since then have been all about visiting small towns and spending time with locals.
A bucket list should help guide you in your interests, assist you in living life to the fullest and teach you about what else you want to pursue.
What’s on your bucket list?
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.