Today I’m excited to talk to you all about something I’m really rather passionate about (not that I don’t every day, but still!). Today, we’re talking Bucket Lists, more specifically why you should have them and how to create them.
I’m a big believer in following your dreams and more importantly – reaching your goals whenever possible. Dreams for me are what keep me going – they’re the things that I work towards, thus they become goals. And when I make a goal, I intend to keep it! Bucket Lists are great in that they essentially list out ALLLLLLLLL the things you have ever at one point or another wanted to do. For example, for me, my bucket lists mostly include places that I want to go to as I love to travel, but bucket lists can include doing things too! (Skydiving is not on my list if you’re wondering though; I’m not that adventurous O.o ). 😉
While Bucket Lists get their name from a rather morbid expression (“gotta do it before I kick the bucket”), they’re actually really great for helping you keep track of what you want to do in life and help you focus on making goals that will allow you to attain your biggest dreams. That said, how does one create an effective bucket list? Welcome my friend Excel and one of my favorite guests, Pinterest. Let’s start with the latter.
Pinterest is probably the best brainstorming site out there on the web. With everything under the sun, you can bet that experiences, places, and accomplishments in one way or another are represented in a visual form. Even better, nearly all of these ‘pins’ will include links that will send you to external sites on the web with further information regarding the visual you see on that ‘pin’. For these reasons, to start building a ‘Bucket List’, Pinterest is one of the best places to start. Not only does it provide you with ideas and information about said ideas, but it gives you a visual incentive – you can literally see what it is you want to do and it motivates you to figure out how to do it!
For organization purposes, I normally create a general ‘umbrella board’ for my list and its subdivisions, such as “Travel”, “Experiences”, or “Things to Try”. You can have fun with it too! Pinterest boards are known for their clever names. (For example, I call my “Travel” board ” Show Me A World “.) From there, as I begin to gather pins, I begin to create subcategories to keep similar ideas together. For example, all the places I want to go in Italy go under a sub-board titled ‘Italy’ under ‘Show me a world’. Easy peasy!
So what can you put on a bucket list then? Anything you want! You don’t have to have out of this world goals or travel plans – even something as simple as drawing in chalk on the sidewalk can go on a bucket list! Want to try Puffer fish? Add it to the list. Want to bake cookies with your friends? Add it to the list. Want to dye your hair purple? Add it to the list.
Yes, that’s all well and good – you have ideas now that are sort of sorted… what now? How does having ideas become meeting goals?
Excel (along with Google Sheets, numbers and other ‘sheet’ based organizers) are excellent organizational tools and if you’re not familiar with them, you should get familiar with them and start using them. Excel sheets will allow you to organize your ‘ideas’ from your pins quickly and effectively. How? Well… the hard part is that you do have to manually enter things in – and break them apart via category. But this is important! For example, below you can see I have several columns for my travel list (Continent, Country, City/Prefecture/Province/State, Sight).
By inputting this data and using the A to Z sort feature, I can quickly list out all of the places I want to go within the same area together. I won’t forget anything, nor will I have to plan anything at the last minute via sifting through endless names of places that I might not remember a few years later. And wahla! Now if I ever go to any of these places (whether for fun or business, I can quickly sort and find in my ‘bucket’ what exactly there is that I want to do). This isn’t just limited to ‘travel’ lists either. You can break down food lists by type, experiences by ‘outdoor’/’indoor’, events via cost or time of year, etc. All of these things will help you map out what you want to do and the easiest/quickest way to do them all.
You can also see in other columns, I sometimes list things such as ‘Significance’, ‘Must Do’, and ‘Plans Made’. I do this specifically so that if it’s been awhile, I can go back and quickly remember details regarding why I added the item to the bucket, what’s most important to me if I’m short on time, and if I’ve made any progress towards reaching those goals. In this way, everything is kept together with your priorities quickly accessible.
A Note to Cynics
So… after all of this… what’s the point? “What’s the point,” a cynic might ask, “Of listing all of the things that you want to do and haven’t done in life?”
Let me answer and make a suggestion regarding this. Once you’ve listed everythinggggg that you want to do, make another list – one I like to call a ‘Been There, Done That’ list on another tab of your excel sheet document for your Bucket List. This list in excel, lists every place you’ve ever been, every accomplishment you’ve made, every show you’ve seen, everything significant thing that’s happened in your life (I even list Christmas Caroling with friends!). Sit there and really think about these things. You’ll likely start to realize that you’ve already done a lot in life already! And thus, when you look at your bucket list and the remaining years of your life, suddenly, things might seem much more possible to achieve.
There’s More To Life
And finally… what’s the big deal? Why should you create a Bucket List (and by extension a ‘Been There, Done That’ list)? You should create a bucket list because bucket lists prove that there’s more to life than what you see every day. We often find ourselves falling into a habit and trap of doing the same thing, every day, in and out. We go to school, go home, do homework, sleep, repeat. We get ready for work, sit in traffic, work, sit in traffic, go home, watch tv, sleep, repeat. It’s very easy to 1. get bored, and 2. depressed. It’s easy to forget about why we live. Bucket Lists remind us that there are wonderful things in this world and motivate us to work towards something better.
Do you have to hit up everything on your bucket lists? Absolutely not! Bucket Lists don’t have to be fully checked off. But every time you can check something off and move it to your ‘Been There, Done That’ list, you have a physical representation of accomplishment. You’ve earned the money to do something. You’ve put in the effort to do those things. You’ve met people. You’ve been able to help others. And you’re reminded of the extraordinary things the world has given you. In short, Bucket Lists (and ‘Been There, Done That’ lists) give us motivation to succeed, gratitude for what we have, and the strength needed when things get hard to push through and come out the other side on top.
So go on! Make yourself a Bucket List. Remind yourself of how beautiful the world is. And remind yourself of how much you’ve already accomplished. One of my favorite lines in Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” is as follows and I think it perfectly encompasses the motivation and purpose behind having dreams and working for those dreams:
“From the moment we were born, we are all free…Anyone who’s seen the outside will have achieved the greatest freedom in the world. For that, I would willingly give my life.”