Updated: Apr 14, 2020
Staring at a blank piece of paper or Word document can be intimidating. How does one summarize all their hopes and dreams in handy list form? I've been working on and adding to my own list for 12 years (I wrote draft one when I was 18 years old) so I thought it would be worth sharing my top tips to get started with your own list. Happy writing!
Get inspired! I can't even remember when or where I heard the term "Bucket List", all I know is that for me it had instant appeal. I am goal-orientated and love check lists so it seemed like the perfect plan. The very first thing I did was read a number of blogs and literally started noting down everything I wanted to do on other people's lists, tweaking and changing to suit me leaving things out I wasn't too fussed about (for example, I don't really drink alcohol, I'm less fussed by anything too booze-focused).
Organise in categories. I soon came to realise that after a time my list was becoming disorganised, messy and I'd repeated myself. I tidied it up with handy headings which helped reduce repeats and helped me clump together similar activities (for example I have "Have a go at archery" followed by "Hit an archery bullseye").
Edit and re-edit. I'm still adding to and omitting things from my original list. I did have "try skydiving" because I thought "that seems like an amazing experience". I get bad motion sickness which has got worse with age and a phobia of vomiting. I've tamed it down to "try indoor skydiving". A bucket list isn't about holding yourself accountable for everything or holding yourself to other's standards. It's about keeping you positive, motivated and feeling a sense of achievement.
Feeling overwhelmed? It's okay, me too. I realised early on that most people simply do not have the time and money to travel around the world every month, hike a mountain and raise £1,000,000 for charity all while learning origami, and that's okay. Completing a bucket list is about being patient and playing a long game. I was inspired by a colleague of mine who had written a "60 before 60 list" which helped me focus and write a "30 before 30" (which stupidly I only wrote at age 28 giving myself barely any time). I will share with you my shiny new "40 before 40" list, which at the time of writing, I have 10 years to complete.
Don't be afraid to be understated. As stated previously very few people are going to step on every seven continents or climb Mount Everest. When I first wrote my list I was duped into the optimistic dream that I would absolutely do all those things and it simply isn't possible. I'm a full time teacher with no children and rarely have any spare cash or time at the end of a month. I'm struggling to save for a wedding never mind a 3 month trip to the Amazon where I hike and see the wildlife. By all means have optimistic dreams, it's important to have challenge but it's also good to celebrate the everyday. The baking something amazing, the learning a new skill, the doing something good for others and yourself. Those little things combined truly are remarkable and amazing and part of living a full life, remember not everyone gets those luxuries.
Encourage loved ones to do things with you! An adventure is so much more rewarding when shared, I feel. I'm lucky, my sister has her own list, different to mine, we inspire each other and have goals and adventures together such as seeing the ballet and the horse racing and swimming with dolphins and riding scary rollercoasters. Take your loved ones along for the ride, after all, it's what life is about!
Include variety. Don't get entirely stuck basing your list around adrenaline-pumping activities or just travel etc. variety and a broad range of experiences are far more memorable and you'll get a lot more from it that way. Also it becomes easier to manage and achieve if you have a choice of free or expensive, quick or time-consuming. Change it up!
Revisit and don't forget to tick off. I got particularly bad at forgetting to catalogue movies I'd watched and books I'd read as they were on a separate list. I also decided it's absolutely fine to put things on retrospectively if it was an amazing experience worth valuing.
Share your experiences and keep them personal. Quite honestly there will always be items on other people's lists that just are not for you. "Have children" is number one of many people's, it's not for me. I adapted it and went with "be a Godmother" and "attend a baby scan" because I want to celebrate other people's children without the obligation of having my own. Sharing your experiences is how other people get inspired, get a dialogue going, someone else may have done something they really recommend that you didn't even think of.
Have fun! It's all to easy to make excuses and say "I'm too busy", "I have no money", "I'll do it later". The inevitable fact is that time is ticking, why would you waste a second when you'll never know which will be your last? Go out (or at the moment stay in) and have some wonderful experiences, after all, that's truly what makes life meaningful and delightful.
505. Have a photo shoot with a loved one.