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71 bucket list ideas to change your life

March 25, 2022 - 20 min read

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What's a bucket list?

Should I have a bucket list?

How to create a bucket list

The different kinds of bucket lists

71 ideas to put on a bucket list

Time to make it real

Moving forward

Close your eyes and complete this sentence: “Before I die, I want to….”

This is your first step in creating your bucket list.

The idea of the bucket list — the experiences we want to have before we "kick the bucket" — has captured our collective imagination for years.  

It might seem a bit sad to think about, but we all dream of things we want to do before our time is up. It isn't always about "before we die," but it creates a sense of urgency.

Creating and updating a list of what you hope to see or do keeps us in touch with what we find moving and inspiring. The list keeps us dreaming, motivated, and working hard. It helps us stay excited about life and connected with what might fulfill our sense of purpose.

Bucket list ideas can be as grand or as simple as you like. But they should align with who you are and what you care about. They’re rooted in your interests, purpose, and passions — the things that get you up in the morning. 

The idea is simple: dream it up, write it down, and do it. In practice, though, you might find it difficult. After all, self-reflection takes time — an asset that comes at a premium these days.

Thankfully, we’re here to help you get started. Here are some of our best bucket list ideas to inspire you.

 

What's a bucket list?

A bucket list is a list of experiences someone wants to have at some point in their life. They’re a fun method of life-planning that can include professional and personal goals or anything else you can imagine. 

Your list will undoubtedly differ from your mom’s, friend’s, or coworker’s — and that’s okay. A bucket list should reflect what you value and desire. 

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Should I have a bucket list?

Having a bucket list isn’t for everyone — it depends on you and how you find fulfillment. But it helps motivate you in your everyday life. It can’t hurt to dream big, so here are some things to consider if you’re going to write one.

Pros

1. It’s a measurable form of progress

Your bucket list acts as a roadmap that you can follow. It’ll help you stay on track, prioritize, and budget for your dreams. Having a life plan is smart, but does your 5-year-plan only include professional milestones? You deserve to have a dream plan, too.

2. It gives you things to look forward to

Hope is powerful, and making a bucket list gives people a reason to nurture that spark and anticipate what’s to come when the days feel long. These goals are also great extrinsic motivators — something you should include in your personal reward system.

3. It makes life more meaningful

Bucket lists help us look past the monotonous or daily grind to bigger and better things. Life exists beyond our self-improvement books and office cubicles. A bucket list encourages you to seek out these new experiences. You have the opportunity to engage with the world, and yourself, outside of your everyday life. 

4. It helps you avoid languishing

If you’re feeling unmotivated, inspired, and kind of “blah” overall, you might be languishing. If you’re in this middle state, stress can affect you more, and your mental health might suffer. Having a bucket list — and something to look forward to — will keep you excited about life and ready to take on tomorrow.

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Cons

1. The fulfillment is only temporary

Unfortunately, most of the experiences people have on their lists are temporary. The experience might be fantastic at the moment, but the moment will pass. It quickly becomes a memory. 

2. It only works for those who find meaning in reaching benchmarks

Spending more time with family and having a stable job is enough for many people. But many other people are daydreamers with additional goals. This kind of imagination is especially important for young adults. They have a whole life ahead of them, and setting goals will help them find their own type of fulfillment.

3. You may feel like you’re failing

If you haven’t crossed off something on your list or didn’t experience something by a particular age, it might lead to self-doubt or feelings of failure. Leaving dreams unfulfilled damages our self-esteem.

4. It can be superficial and performative

Some people like to share and talk about their bucket lists. That can create a sense of competition and one-up-manship. It can make us focus on big Instagrammable experiences rather than deeper, quieter everyday experiences that create life satisfaction and meaning.

How to create a bucket list

Include anything you like on your bucket list. List career goals, travel destinations, health, finance, or relationship goals. It can be as long or as short as you want. Really, if you can dream it, you can do it. 

Creating your list can feel overwhelming. It takes Inner Work® and self-reflection to create a list that aligns with your values. There are many ways you can approach this. But, if you need a hand, BetterUp is here. Our coaches can help you figure out what matters to you and thrive. 

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The different kinds of bucket lists

Your list might be very long if you try to put everything down at once. If you’re overwhelmed by all you want to do, try breaking it down into categories. Here are some examples of divided bucket lists: 

  1. Travel destinations
  2. Career goals
  3. Foods you want to try
  4. Skills or hobbies you’d like to learn
  5. Bands you’d like to see
  6. Life goals
  7. Fears to overcome

Each list can contain experiences related to your interests. Think about your current career, passions, and hobbies, and turn those into cool bucket list ideas. 

71 ideas to put on a bucket list

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We asked some of our friends and colleagues for ideas from their bucket lists. Here are 71 possible bucket list examples to get you thinking: 

  1. Visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World, like Grand Canyon National Park — the type of "awe" inspired by the vastness of nature has a powerful effect on our well-being
  2. Try the street food in Mexico (or any other country where the street scene seems exotic relative to your day-to-day) 
  3. Go bungee jumping
  4. Road trip across Canada on the Alaskan Highway
  5. Take a multi-day railroad trip in a sleeper car
  6. Drink beer at Oktoberfest
  7. See the Northern Lights 
  8. Visit New York City for an iconic event (Thanksgiving Day Parade or New Year's Eve)
  9. Try skinny dipping
  10. Eat shark in Iceland
  11. Visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras
  12. Hike to Machu Picchu in Peru
  13. Visit the sand beaches of Hawaii, Galapagos, Indonesia, or the Dead Sea
  14. Go horseback riding
  15. Try kayaking down rapids
  16. Ride a gondola in Venice, Italy
  17. Find a job you love
  18. Retire early
  19. Visit Tokyo, Japan
  20. Have children
  21. Go snorkeling or scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia 
  22. See elephants in Thailand 
  23. Go vegetarian for a month
  24. Walk on the Great Wall of China
  25. Learn how to play guitar (or any other instrument)
  26. Make a meal with food entirely grown in your garden
  27. Set up a college fund for your children 
  28. Become debt-free
  29. Earn a second college degree
  30. Touch six out of the seven continents
  31. Learn a new language
  32. Become a manager
  33. Adopt a pet
  34. Go skydiving
  35. Write a book
  36. Be a background cast member in a movie
  37. Fill a room with completed puzzles 
  38. Become a homeowner
  39. Volunteer for your local school board
  40. Live in a foreign country
  41. Swim in all four oceans
  42. Perform at a local open-mic night
  43. Ride in a hot air balloon
  44. Learn to snowboard
  45. Attend the Olympics
  46. Explore the Amazon in Brazil
  47. Eat pho in Halong Bay, Vietnam
  48. Try a zipline
  49. Take a picture in front of the White House
  50. Mentor a young professional in your industry
  51. Go camping in the desert
  52. Drive along the entire coast of California
  53. Complete your master’s degree or Ph.D
  54. See a concert at the Hollywood Bowl
  55. Hike up a mountain in Chile
  56. Run a marathon
  57. Record a music album
  58. Read all the books by your favorite author
  59. Go white water rafting
  60. Own a sports car or motorcycle
  61. Start a scholarship fund in your name
  62. Volunteer on a board of directors
  63. Write a screenplay
  64. Learn a complicated recipe and cook it for your friends
  65. Sleep at an ice hotel
  66. See a show on broadway
  67. Try a crazy hairstyle
  68. Treat yourself to a spa day
  69. Take your family to Disney World
  70. Coach a kids soccer team
  71. Visit major cultural landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in France, the Taj Mahal in India, the pyramids of Egypt, Petra in Jordan, the Colosseum in Greece, Stonehenge in England, or Christ the Redeemer in Brazil

These are just a few of our best bucket list items. Yours will look different, and that’s the point. The possibilities are endless.

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Time to make it real

Ready to make your bucket list a reality? The first step is to write it down. Listing your goals in a journal can make them feel more real. There are no rules for how to journal, so you can organize your notebook however you want. But if you’re looking for a place to start, consider these journaling techniques:

  • Manifestation journal: Whether you want to hike in New Zealand or be an ocean scientist in Maine, you must open yourself up to the possibilities. Use future-minded thinking to make your bucket list a reality. 
  • Gratitude journal: Keep a place to reflect on the special things you’ve done so far. This will be a great motivator to keep working on your list!
  • Ideas journal: A dumping ground for all of your wildest dreams and ideas. Try not to filter yourself — the sky’s the limit! You can come back to them to see if they work as true bucket list items or if they were just fleeting ideas.
  • Daily journal: Use your notebook to set daily goals, reflect on your experiences, and document your adventures. This will help you discover what activities are most meaningful to you.
  • Vision journal: Instead of writing down your bucket list, why not visualize it? Create a vision board or scrapbook of everything you want to do.

If pen-and-paper isn’t your style, you can create your list in a computer document or spreadsheet. Better yet, create a profile on bucketlist.org or bucklist.net. Signing up will grant you access to customizable lists and goal-tracking tools. Plus, you can connect with other bucket listers online and be inspired by their achievements. 

Moving forward

"One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” 

Best-selling author Paulo Coelho had it right. 

According to a 2018 study, the average employee will spend 25% of their lives working. But what we do with the other 75% of our lives is up to us. It’s important to carve out time to enjoy what the world offers, make new friends, create new family traditions, and build memories.

Having and following through on your bucket list ideas is a form of self-care. Whether you want to create a travel bucket list to go to Spain or prioritize your family and career, it’s never too late to start chasing your dreams and prioritize your emotional well-being. The world can be an overwhelming, even scary place, but you’re capable of anything you set your mind to. 

Now that you’ve made your list of things, it’s time to go out and start making those ambitions a reality — even if it's outside your comfort zone. That’s where you’ll grow. 

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Published March 25, 2022

Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Staff Writer

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