A Bucket List For Things That Really Matter

You may have seen, or at least heard of, the 2007 Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson movie “The Bucket List”  - but have you ever taken the time to actually make one? 

What exactly is a Bucket List? A 2011 essay published on Slate.com suggests: “In 2004, the term was used—perhaps for the first time? —in the context of things to do before one kicks the bucket.” 

Despite the rather crude phrasing, it’s actually a nice concept, right? We all say things like “Oh, I’d like to try that some day” but often “some day” keeps getting pushed farther and farther into the future until the idea is simply forgotten or time has run out.

It might seem silly, but writing these things down gives them a kind of substance. It makes them tangible goals rather than easily forgotten ideas.

So, the following is a guide to creating your own Bucket List—but don’t think of this as a to-do list. Think of it as a prompt. After you’ve read through the guide, take some time to think about what is really important enough to make it on your Bucket List.

Step One: Make a Plan.

Deciding to create a Bucket List can be a bit scary, and perhaps a bit time consuming, so it’s best to make a plan to do it. Set aside an afternoon. Put some time in your calendar. Do some research and maybe even consult your close friends. Think about which aspects of your life you’re not done exploring and get ready to commit your goals to paper.

Step Two: Gear Up.

When you’re embarking on a new project, whatever it is, you need to be prepared with the right tools. Creating a Bucket List is no different. Grab the journal your daughter gave you or that notepad that’s been sitting on the kitchen counter for as long as you can remember. Use a good pen or pencil (maybe a couple, if you’re a vigorous note-writer) and make yourself comfortable. Or grab your mobile phone and start making a wish list in the notes section. We’d also recommend a good cup of coffee or tea—whatever you need to feel at your best. If you’re rushing or uncomfortable, you won’t be as open with what you really want to accomplish.

Step Three: Write.

Go on. Simply start. Write something down. Be brave. Be unexpected. Be different. Write what you’re feeling in that moment. This is for you after all, and there’s no one who knows you better than you. Be prepared to write an incredibly long list of things because now is not the time to be logical. Now is the time to be a dreamer.

Step Four: Take a Different Perspective.

Pick a date five years into the future: Where do you see yourself?  What will you be doing?  Who will you be doing it with?  Write down that list and see how it sits with you. Think about different aspects of your life and look at the list from that perspective. Do you want to include things you might want to do with, or for, your family and friends? What about travel or developing your hobbies? Any of these things could be included in your Bucket List.

 Step Five: Write Some More. Now you’re ready to create a “draft” of your Bucket List but don’t call it your final draft because a Bucket List is constantly evolving. If you’ve been taking notes and crossing things out this whole time, maybe flip to a new page and rewrite the list. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just clear enough for you to really wrap your head around and evaluate. It also helps to put things in categories such as "Travel" or "Education".

Step Six: Seek Inspiration.

You can find inspiration everywhere and anywhere. In books, on TV, even on social media, like Facebook and Twitter.

A simple search of ‘Bucket List’ on Twitter reveals: Seeing the Northern LIghts. Buying a farm. Visit Dubai. Run the New York City Marathon. Sky Diving. Scuba diving. Space travel. And beyond.

The internet is full of inspiration, like this website by Annette, a freelance travel writer, who writes the lifestyle and travel blog, Bucket List Journey. You don’t have to include every idea you see, but it might stir something in you that you’d forgotten or challenges you.

Step Seven: Knock Out the Unrealistic Items.

Here’s the part where it’s time to be logical. Put stars next to those items on your Bucket List that are truly impossible to fulfill, whether because of time contraints, or physical limitations, or even lack of funds. Keeping those things on your list might seem important, but in the end it will just remind you of things that you just couldn’t make happen. This list should be inspirational - a positive thing, not a sad reminder.

Step Eight: Make Your List Pretty.

If you want to make your list pretty, but all means do so. Write with your nicest pen and in your best penmanship, and make your Bucket List something special to behold. Or have it printed on some fancy paper if that’s more your style. Whatever makes you feel proud of your list.

Step Nine: Pick One and Jump In!

Number 19 on your list is “Go on a Whale Watch,” so book it! Mark it down on your calendar, call your friends, and do it. It’s always good to start right away with fulfilling your list. You don’t want it to remain unchecked forever.

Step Ten: Put Your List Where Your Loved Ones Can Find It.

You may want to keep it private for now, but when something happens to you, wouldn’t it be great to leave your list of dreams behind to inspire your loved ones?

In The LastingMatters Organizer, there is a special category just for Bucket Lists. LastingMatters provides an affordable and comprehensive way to document and organize your personal wishes and intentions related to end-of-life planning. Communicating your wishes and capturing exactly where all of your information and documents are located will be a huge gift to those that care about you.