Create your bucket list - 101 ideas to get started

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101 Unique Ideas For A Bucket List | GoodTrust

Jul-20 2021

A "bucket list" is a list of things you want to do before dying. The phrase is so common it's almost cliché, but believe it or not, it's a relatively new saying. In 2007, the movie The Bucket List, in which Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman played two cancer patients living their best lives until they "kicked the bucket." 

Today, the meaning has expanded to encompass goals people want to achieve by certain ages or other milestones. So, whether you're five or 95 years old, sick or healthy, it's never a wrong time to create a bucket list. 

But, where to start? And what should go on it?

Let's dig into those questions.

How to Create a Bucket List in 6 Steps

No two bucket lists are exactly alike. For example, children and young people could have a short (or magical!) bucket list about going to a theme park, meeting the Tooth Fairy, or earning all A's. On the other hand, the lists for adults could have more grown-up items, like getting married, promoted, or traveling the world.

But no matter how old someone is, the steps toward making a bucket list are essentially the same.

1. Set Aside Time to Work Alone

This is your bucket list and no one else's. So even if you're married, in a permanent relationship, or have children, this is a time for you to dream without outside influences.

You could make this a family activity, though, where each of you spends a few days creating your bucket lists so you can talk about them when you get to step four.

2. Make a List of What Drives You

Do you love to get your adrenaline pumping? Is your fondest memory of your trip to the beach when you were a kid, and you can't wait to get back there? Are you passionate about helping animals?

There are no wrong answers during brainstorming (or making a bucket list in general). This is a time for reflection. Without overthinking, write down a list of all the things that you’re passionate about.  

3. Come Up with Long- and Short-Term Ideas

Using your list of passions, ask yourself the big question: If I died tomorrow, what would I regret not doing the most?

Those can be the foundation of your bucket list ideas.

Come up with thoughts about how you can put those passions into action. Make sure you have things for both the short and long term, as achieving smaller goals can make you feel you can meet those bigger ones.

For instance, if you're all about the adrenaline, you could make a short-term goal of taking local skydiving lessons. A long-term goal could be riding the largest roller coaster in each state.

If you want to get back to that beach, your short-term goal could be to go to that beach (or another, more affordable one to get a bit of your fix). If you realize it wasn't that beach but the idea of beaches, your long-term one could be to visit all the best beaches in the Caribbean.

And helping animals? For any charitable passion, you could have short-term goals of volunteering or donating what you can. A long-term goal could be turning it into a career or using your retirement to volunteer or advocate full time.

4. Talk to Those Affected by Your List

While this is your list, you should discuss your bucket list ideas with someone you love and trust. This could be a close friend, family member, or partner/spouse. 

Sharing your bucket list with others helps keep you accountable. Ask your loved ones to check in on your bucket list progress—and do the same for them if they’ve created bucket lists of their own!

You’ll also want to discuss any items on your list that will require another person (e.g. your spouse) to expend time or money. If you share any items or they overlap enough for compromise, great! If not, that's okay too—see what you can do together and what you can do separately.

5. Put in the Work

To make your bucket list ideas become reality, you have to work toward them. While some may say you should set aside time regularly to do this—and there's nothing wrong with that—that may not be feasible for everyone. But, socking away your spare change for a goal and researching your options can be done anytime. 

If possible, consider having a particular savings account or certificate of deposit (CD) that you can't withdraw from but will gain interest. You might even opt to automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck into your bucket list investment account.

6. Go For It!

When you get to the point where you can go after a bucket list idea, such as earning a certain amount of money, having the kids all be out on their own, or retiring, doubt may sneak in.

This is normal, but don't let it stop you. Buy those plane tickets, sign up for that class, get that car. Of the top five deathbed regrets, three of them related to not living the life people wanted to live. So, make sure you live the life you want.

101 Bucket List Ideas

Even knowing how to make a bucket list, you may still feel a bit stumped on what to put on there. We're here to help. 

Below are 101 bucket list ideas to get you started. Of course, not every idea will fit your needs or personality, but hopefully they'll inspire you while you create your own bucket list.

Get in Front of an Audience

  1. Perform in a play or musical.

  2. Do karaoke.

  3. Be a background actor (extra) in a TV show or movie.

  4. Get on a game show.

  5. Start a podcast, online video channel, or blog.

Travel Anywhere

  1. Visit a location you learned about in school.

  2. Fly first class, even if it's a short flight.

  3. Visit a city at the time of year they're most famous for, like NYC at New Years or New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

  4. Stay in that city you've always dreamed of visiting.

  5. Take the midnight train going anywhere (that is, buy a plane or train ticket at the last second to whatever location they're headed next).

  6. Take a vacation alone.

  7. Close your eyes and point at a map or globe or use Google Earth's "I'm Feeling Lucky" function to find a random place, then go there.

  8. Stay overnight in a haunted location.

  9. Visit every continent (yes, even Antarctica!).

Travel in the U.S.

  1. Go to a big sporting event, like the World Series or Super Bowl.

  2. See the Aurora Borealis, aka the Northern Lights.

  3. Visit every Smithsonian museum, gallery, and zoo.

  4. Attend the most unique festival you can find in the U.S.

  5. Ride a train cross country.

  6. Tour the White House.

  7. Visit every national park.

  8. Live in an RV or tricked-out van and take a cross-country roadtrip.

Travel Internationally

  1. Attend a famous festival in another country.

  2. Swim in every ocean and major sea.

  3. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  4. Do volunteer work in a third-world country.

  5. Visit the Seven Wonders of the World.

  6. Backpack across Europe.

Food Goals

  1. Learn to cook your favorite restaurant dish.

  2. Conquer a restaurant's food eating challenge.

  3. Eat one of the world's most expensive foods—or perhaps share with a friend.

  4. Try a local delicacy in any city or country you visit.

  5. Tip 100% or more on a high bill at a restaurant.

New Skills

  1. Master a common skill you don't yet know, like bike riding, swimming, or writing in cursive.

  2. Learn to play an instrument or sing.

  3. Try horseback riding.

  4. Take online or community college classes in something you wanted to study but didn't get to.

  5. Learn to say the alphabet backward.

  6. Get a high school diploma, GED, degree, or vocational certification.

  7. Take a dance class.

  8. Ride a type of transportation that scares you, like a helicopter or small plane.

  9. Learn to fly a plane, ride a motorcycle, or drive a boat.

  10. Take an art class (online or local).

General Self-Improvement

  1. If someone once told you would never be good at something, prove them wrong.

  2. Set a world record.

  3. Achieve a health or fitness goal (with a doctor's approval and assistance).

  4. Try out a new sport or revisit a childhood one.

  5. Read a book you only pretended to read back in school.

  6. Go "off the grid" for a while.

  7. Find and say "thank you" to people from your past, like old teachers, bosses, or friends.

  8. Overcome a phobia or fear.

  9. Write a book—publishing is optional.

  10. Read at least 10 banned books.

Making the World a Bit Better

  1. Learn a new language and use it in real life.

  2. Donate blood (and perhaps get on the bone marrow donor list).

  3. Try to help solve an unsolved crime.

  4. Foster an animal.

  5. Volunteer at a local charity.

  6. Teach a class about something you know a lot about.

Entertainment Goals

  1. Meet a celebrity you respect.

  2. Be in the audience of a live TV show taping.

  3. Splurge on good seats for a concert, play, opera, or other performance.

  4. Attend a red carpet event, like a movie premiere.

  5. Go to an awards show.

  6. Visit a location where a favorite movie or show was filmed.

  7. Attend a convention for something you enjoy, like Comic-Con.

  8. Stage door at a Broadway show.

Fulfill Youthful Dreams

  1. Drive a famous car, even a replica (like the Batmobile).

  2. Get a pet you've always wanted.

  3. Buy a toy you wanted as a child but never got.

  4. Ethically pet an unusual animal, like a sloth or dolphin.

  5. Ride a hot air balloon.

  6. Go to a theme park you’ve always wanted to visit (Disneyland, Universal Studios, etc.).

Financial and Career Goals

  1. Buy a home or rent your ideal apartment.

  2. Get a brand new (or your dream classic!) car.

  3. Reach the highest work position you desire.

  4. Negotiate a raise.

  5. Insist on a work-life balance. (A significant deathbed regret!)

  6. Be invited to speak at an event in your industry.

  7. Turn a hobby into a business.

  8. Move somewhere you want to live, not somewhere you have to live.

  9. Pay off all your debts by a certain age.

  10. Retire.

  11. Create your digital death to-do list and complete it.

Very Personal Decisions

  1. Officiate a wedding.

  2. Get married.

  3. Foster a child.

  4. Have children (and secure a guardian for them as part of your estate plan).

  5. Host a family reunion.

  6. Renew your vows someplace fun and unique.

Just for Fun

  1. Visit a psychic.

  2. Go skinny dipping. (Be sure you don't break any laws!)

  3. Take a telescope, get away from light pollution, and look at the night sky.

  4. Throw your dream party.

  5. Wear a costume or formal outfit for no reason—in public.

  6. Ride a mechanical bull.

  7. Try busking.

  8. Safely re-create your favorite movie moment.

  9. Go for a haircut or color you want but are nervous about.

  10. Get a tattoo.

  11. Skydive

Help Others Fulfill Bucket Lists

Many bucket list items aren't free, and some people may not be able to reach even short-term goals without some assistance. If you're in a position to help others achieve their bucket list dreams through volunteerism or donations, here are a few organizations to check out.

  • Make-A-Wish: This group helps critically ill children have their wishes come true.

  • Dream Foundation: The foundation helps terminally ill adults fulfill dreams.

  • The Granted Wish Foundation: This group grants wishes related to sports and athletes for children and young adults with physical challenges.

  • Second Wind Dreams: Focusing solely on making elders' dreams come true, this group reminds us that, no matter what age someone is, it's not too late to finish that bucket list.

  • One Simple Wish: Unlike the other organizations that focus on illnesses, this group fulfills the wishes of children in foster care and those who have recently aged out of the system.

The Takeaway

Creating bucket list goals can help you make the most of the time you have with your loved ones (and yourself). Checking off each one means you're constantly taking steps toward a life well-lived—hopefully one where you can look back without regrets and tell your loved one via your Future Message all about how much you loved every second of it.

While you’re going through your bucket list, make sure you protect all your memories by securing photos and documents with our digital legacy service.