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Make your bucket list achievable, not unrealistic

by Emily Koelsch | Contributor
October 13, 2020


The idea of having and checking off a bucket list has become increasingly popular in recent years, as working through a bucket list can be a fun and rewarding way to ensure that you accomplish your goals and enjoy new experiences. But, to ensure that the list brings satisfaction – instead of frustration – it’s important to be thoughtful about how you go about creating and checking off your bucket list. Here are some tips to help you get started.

What is a bucket list?

A bucket list is simply a list of goals, aspirations or things you want to accomplish during your life. The phrase is not a new one and was developed from the term “kick the bucket,” but it’s become increasingly mainstream since the 2007 Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman hit movie, “The Bucket List.”

While most people naturally keep a mental list of things they want to accomplish or do during their life, a more formal bucket list gives you a chance to more effectively keep track of and work toward goals.

It can give the structure, motivation and accountability needed to move these aspirations from abstract “someday” goals to actionable items that you’re working toward. Plus, having this type of list can help to ensure that you live a more fulfilling day-to-day life and that you are spending your time, energy and resources on the things that you really care about.

Where do you start when creating a bucket list?

When you begin creating a bucket list, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The list is a very individualized thing and should be created with your personal interests and objectives in mind. That said, here are some steps to help guide you through the process.

First, come up with a name for your list.

This might sound like an overly simple first step, but it can be an important one. And, it’s worth noting that for some, the term bucket list has negative connotations and serves more as a grim reminder of one’s mortality than an inspiring to-do list.

Coming up with a name for the list will help you define what you’re wanting to achieve with it. Maybe it’s your “Annual To-Do List” or your “Adventure Goals” or “What You Want to Accomplish.” Or maybe you’re comfortable with the classic bucket list title. Whatever you want to call it, start by deciding on that and let it help shape how you create the rest of your list.

Second, come up with the items you want to include on your list.

This is often the most challenging part of creating the list. Most people have a few things in their minds that they’d like to accomplish, so that’s a good place to start. Beyond that, here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind when adding items:

  • Make sure the items are meaningful to you and actually inspire you to act – i.e., don’t just add it because it’s popular (for example, skydiving) or because you want to accomplish it (for example, organizing all of your closets). Instead, only pick things that you really want to accomplish and that will inspire you to work toward them.
  • Don’t be afraid to include simple things on your list. It can be tempting to think that everything on the list should be a major life experience, but the reality is that your list should include some smaller, easier-to-accomplish goals.
  • Don’t leave things off just because they seem too daunting. One of the points of the bucket list is to challenge you and to get you out of your comfort zone. Every item shouldn’t be one that’s difficult, scary or hard to accomplish, but don’t be afraid to include things that are.
  • The length of the list is totally up to you, but some experts recommend starting with around 25 items with varying degrees of difficulty to accomplish.

Third, write your list down and store it in a safe place.

Whether you do it electronically or in a hard copy, it’s important that you write out your list and keep it somewhere that you can access it. This is essential for helping you check off items, add items and track progress.

The good news is that there are now several websites and apps that help with this process. Here are a few popular tools to check out:

  • offers a community of individuals all working to create and check off bucket lists. This site gives you ideas for your list as well as tools to record your list and track your progress.
  • BuckiTDream is an app that helps you create and share your list.
  • iWish is an app that offers over 1,000 bucket-list ideas and gives users support in checking off items on their list.

Fourth, come up with a strategy to make sure that you complete the items on your list.

Once you’ve created your list, you need to make sure that you begin completing items on it. Otherwise, the list will not only be ineffective, but it will also be a source of frustration and angst. To avoid this, consider some of these tips for working through your list:

  • Create accountability – like all goals, having accountability is an important part of making sure that you accomplish your bucket-list items. Some ways that you can create this accountability is by sharing the list with others, creating a small community of friends and family members that are working through lists together, setting deadlines or making your goals public.
  • Start small – once you’ve created your list, begin with a few small, easy-to-achieve items. This will help to get you started, build habits around working through the list and build positive momentum.
  • Set deadlines – you don’t want to set deadlines for all items on your list. After all, it’s a working list that you want to complete throughout your life. However, picking a few items and setting deadlines can help ensure that you complete the list and everything isn’t put off for “someday.” But, when you set deadlines, make sure that you are realistic and practical.

What are popular items to include on bucket lists?

Getting ideas for items to include on your list is one of the best things you can do to motivate yourself to create and work through a bucket list. While there are many resources available to help with brainstorming, here’s a list of a few of the most popular bucket list items to help inspire you:

Most Popular Bucket-List Items
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsSee the northern lights
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsWalk the Great Wall of China
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsTake a cross-country road trip
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsChange someone's life for the better
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsRun a marathon
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsLearn to play an instrument
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsRide a gondola in Venice
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsVisit all seven continents
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsTake an African safari
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsSky dive
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsLearn a new language
Most Popular Bucket-List ItemsFloat in the Dead Sea

A bucket list can be a fun and inspiring way to create and work toward goals. When done right, it can help your life become more fulfilling and help to ensure that you’re prioritizing the right things in life. Whether you want to call it a bucket list or life goals or something else entirely, thoughtfully creating such a list can be a productive way to help you define and realize your life goals and achieve personal significance.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company. Our financial professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and achieving your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

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