In 2007, the movie The Bucket List told the story of a millionaire and an auto mechanic who, after meeting in a hospital room, decide to go out and do the things they’ve always wanted to do before they die. Since then, the idea of making a bucket list has taken hold in popular culture.
There are bound to be some things that you have a deep desire to experience in your lifetime. While it’s unlikely that you’ll end up traveling the world with Morgan Freeman while Jack Nicholson foots the bill, there can be many rich experiences waiting for you. If you feel like your life is set in stone, follow these four steps to discover and implement your own bucket list:
Before you can check anything off your bucket list, you have to create one. While you have many dreams and ambitions, it’s impossible to focus on all of them at the same time. Inspiration often comes from other sources. A documentary on Billy the Kid may inspire you to visit the old west. Your streaming playlist may inspire you to attend a concert at Carnegie Hall, or take guitar lessons to make your own music.
Designate a notes page in your planner as your Bucket List, and write down these inspirations as they strike.
Once you have a few items on your list, take a moment to flesh out the details for each item. For example, the entry “enjoy retirement” could go several different ways. Do you want to spend your time gardening and tending your fruit trees, and then have an end-of-summer party where you serve your grandkids fresh peaches and homemade ice cream? Or does your retirement mean taking off from home base and touring museums and historical sites from Milan to Mongolia? The more you flesh out the items on your bucket list, the closer they get to reality.
When you can see your ideal future, it’s time to make a plan to support it. Start by sorting your list items on a scale from the near future to the distant future. Then identify what needs to happen to get there, whether it’s saving up for a year for a family trip or advancing in your career to make your retirement goals possible. Work out the personal, financial, and social decisions you need to make to start fulfilling your bucket list.
As you finish your plans, set a date in your planner. For longer-term goals, you can mark the end date on your future planning calendar. Then you can make recurring entries in your task list to remind you of the steps you need to take each day to fulfill your goal. As the years go by, you’ll find that the small steps you take each day have led to an experience you might not have believed.
In the end, you’ll find that the contents of your bucket list are less important than the mindset that you develop while making it. When you unleash your dreams with a plan, each step along the way becomes worthwhile and fulfilling. Whatever is on your bucket list, it’s time to start crossing them off.