This article is going to provide you with everything you ever needed to know about Bucket List ideas and “rules” for starting your Bucket List. (Did you know there are rules? Well, actually they are suggestions:) But the first question I’m going to address is, “When should I start a Bucket List?”
Some people think they don’t need to start a Bucket List until they get “older.” But that’s not true.
The best time to start your Bucket List is right now! There really is no time like the present! A Bucket List helps you get in touch with your values — what’s really important to you in life? It helps you remember your goals in life, as well as helps you remember to take time to enjoy the fun things in life.
A Bucket List will help you live your best life through all stages of life and help you stay inspired to live it with passion, purpose, and positivity. So come along and let’s get started with everything you need to know about Bucket List ideas and rules!
What is a Bucket List?
Some people don’t like the idea of a Bucket List because they associate it with when they die. And actually, the term originated from the phrase “kick the bucket” (which means to die). So it’s kind of a list of things we want to do before we die, but I prefer to think of it as a list of goals, accomplishments, hopes, and dreams I want to experience in LIFE!
A Bucket List includes big things, little things, fun things, adventurous things — anything you’d like to experience in LIFE. Setting goals and accomplishing those goals in life helps you live a life of passion, purpose, and positivity. In other words, you are living a life of happiness and wellness!
A Bucket List does not have to be extravagant — it can include simple pleasures in life as well as once-in-a-lifetime activities. Both of these types of activities are important for a well-rounded life of happiness and satisfaction. The process of setting goals and accomplishing those goals are good for a positive, healthy mindset, as well.
A Bucket List can include items that seem out of your reach at the moment — so don’t exclude something just because it’s seems impossible or unlikely. You just never know…
And your Bucket List can include the simple things in life that truly make you happy and can be accomplished close to home with the support of people you love for little or no financial investment. These 10 questions to ask yourself will also help give you some insight for your Bucket List.
Bucket List Categories
Some people may not know how to actually put together a bucket list because they haven’t learned to create goals and work toward them. Or, maybe they are afraid they won’t be able to accomplish the things on their Bucket List. This is fear-based behavior that can negatively impact happiness and contentment.
In fact, my mother never created a Bucket List because she always felt like her life would unfold the way it was supposed to unfold. She used to tell me I should be happy with whatever comes my way rather than always have BIG PLANS. She also used to say she’d rather not have a Bucket List because then she couldn’t be disappointed. (Fear-based thoughts.)
To be honest, we never agreed on this philosophy because I ALWAYS had a Bucket List that included simple things, adventurous things, silly things, professional things, and maybe even things that I would never accomplish. But my Bucket List gives me HOPE and allows me the opportunity to DREAM and BELIEVE! I’ve had a Bucket List since I was about 10-years old.
I probably won’t ever be able to go on an African Safari because it is a big-ticket item that is out of my budget — but what if my husband hits the lottery some day? Then you betcha I’m gonna cross that item off my Bucket List and head to Africa! I can DREAM, right?
There are many categories you can include on your Bucket List. And, as you go through the various stage of life, you will probably add to your Bucket List. Your hopes and dreams will change — and you will learn about new places and things to do — so you’ll update your Bucket List. Don’t be afraid to add and delete, as long as you are making changes for the right reasons. Don’t just randomly make changes because you feel defeated or you feel like Super Woman!
But let me share some categories of Bucket List Ideas that you can consider.
Category Ideas for Your Bucket List
Just an FYI, you can find oodles of category ideas for your Bucket List on the Internet, but I’ve kind of consolidated these categories into what makes sense to me. In other words, I’ve simplified them. There’s no need to add words just to add words.
Also, once we are working on our Bucket Lists, we will want to personalize them so they make sense for us. You might find that something I think is extreme and wild-n-crazy is part of your normal lifestyle Bucket List — like jumping out of a plane or eating octopus!
Here are some categories to consider for your Bucket List:
- Bucket List Travel Ideas
- Lifestyle and Personal Growth Bucket List Ideas
- Contributions to Society Bucket List Ideas
- Inexpensive Bucket List Ideas
- Unique Bucket List Ideas
- Extreme Bucket List Ideas (Wild-n-Crazy)
- Relationships Bucket List Ideas
- Creative Bucket List Ideas
- Entertainment Bucket List Ideas
- Finance Bucket List Ideas
- Weird Bucket List Ideas
- Food and Drink Bucket List Ideas
- Health and Fitness Bucket List Ideas
- Adventure Bucket List Ideas
How to Make a Bucket List
There’s really no right or wrong way to make a Bucket List. Your ideas can be as small as you want, or as big as you want — maybe you want to climb Mount Everest? Or scuba dive to the farthest depths of the ocean? But you may also want to kiss in the rain, or walk a path near your home. There are no limits to what you can DREAM — big or little.
A huge aspect of a Bucket List goal is the journey to its achievement and the feeling of accomplishment.
Take Time to Brainstorm
Actually take time to sit and think about all the things in life you have wanted to do or see, thought about doing or seeing, been interested in doing or seeing, etc. Don’t rule out anything just because you think it’s out of reach.
Consider the categories listed above and write down everything that comes to mind. You can always cross something out later if you change your mind. Be sure to have plenty of paper!
If you are creating a Bucket List with someone else, talk through your bucket list ideas together while you are brainstorming. Remember, brainstorming is like a brain dump — just put everything out there that comes to your mind. You’ll have time to refine the list later.
Ask Yourself These Questions:
- Where do I want to travel? Internationally? In the country?
- Are there special events I would like to attend? Internationally? In the country? Locally?
- Are there hobbies I have always wanted to try?
- What do I want people to remember about me at my funeral?
- Are there classes I have always wanted to take?
- What interests me in our world? How can I play a role in this issue?
- Who have I always wanted to meet and why?
- At your next high school reunion, what do you want to be able to tell your old classmates you’ve been doing?
- What have I always wanted to do with my career?
- How do I want to focus on myself and my personal needs?
- What foods do I want to try? Internationally? Nationally?
- Who might I want to include in my Bucket List ideas?
- What are my health and wellness goals? How am I going to meet those goals?
- How can I best express my creativity?
- What makes me truly happy in my soul?
- What wild-n-crazy Bucket List ideas have always been deep in the back of my mind?
- How can I become a better person? What can I do to get there?
Write Your Bucket List and Keep It Safe
Once you’ve spent quality time developing your Bucket List, write it down and put it someplace where you can access it easily to make notes, changes, and updates. Your Bucket List ideas should be ever changing and evolving. This isn’t a one-time activity that you do and never think about it again.
This should be a working document. As you learn about new things in life and the world around you, add to your list. You will constantly be coming up with new Bucket List ideas if you are living your life to the fullest!
Bucket List Rules
There aren’t really any hard-and-fast rules for Bucket Lists (because no one but you really needs to see your list unless you are doing it with someone else, or want to share it). But there sure are some BEST PRACTICES that will help you complete your list and make it more likely that you will do your best to accomplish your goals.
1. Think about everything and anything that you’ve ever heard about, seen, or thought about doing in life and thought “I WOULD LOVE TO DO THAT!” Include those ideas on your draft list — then go back and finalized things. Did you always think it would be cool to ride in a helicopter over an ice glacier? Write it down!
2. Explore different areas of your life, including the categories above. Consider people you might want to include in your activities as well as experiences near and far, big and little. Do you want to catch tadpoles in the stream behind your house with your childhood best friend? Write it down!
3. Nothing is too ridiculous, silly, far-fetched, strange, pointless, big, small, or weird — it’s YOUR Bucket list. You should feel free to include anything at all. Do you want to jump in a mud puddle on your 50th birthday? Write it down!
4. Actually write down your Bucket List. Don’t just try to keep it in your head. Make a concrete, tangible record of your list and save it in a safe, accessible place where you can revisit it often to make changes and updates. It’s an important document!
5. Don’t delete something from your Bucket List AFTER you have accomplished it just because it might seem silly or strange today. It was something you wanted to do during another stage of life, so it was important to you at the time. It helped make you who you are today!
6. Keep in mind that people who have accomplished the most things in life usually have a massive Bucket List (and ironically have the most things still left on their lists when they die). But people with no goals for the future also tend to have fewer accomplishments in their past. So make yourself a BIG Bucket List!
7. If you delete something from your Bucket List, make sure it’s for a good reason. Don’t just delete something because you think it won’t ever happen — you should never give up on your DREAMS! But if you decide you no longer want to swim with sharks because you saw someone get eaten by one, THAT might be a perfectly good reason to remove it from your list!
8. Keep track of when you achieved or experienced each item on your Bucket List. And if you do something that isn’t on your Bucket List, but it would have been if you had thought about it when you developed your list, go ahead and add it! This is YOUR list — all the experiences in life that have made (or will help you become) the person YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BECOME!
The Most Popular Bucket List Items
There are lots of lists out there on the Internet, but I’ve compiled ten of the most popular Bucket List items from all the lists I’ve seen (not in any particular order). These Bucket List ideas might give you some inspiration for your own Bucket List (and I must say, these are mostly pretty BIG ideas):**
- Go on an African Safari
- Write a book
- Get healthier | lose weight
- See the Northern Lights
- Visit the Egyptian Pyramids
- Change someone’s life for the better
- Snorkel | Swim with dolphins | Scuba diving
- Travel across the United States
- Learn a new language
- Run a marathon
**Fall in love, get married, and own a home were often on Top 10 Bucket List ideas, too!
Simple Bucket List Ideas
These were some simple Bucket List ideas I found during my research. As you will see, your ideas don’t need to be BIG, they can be basic life goals that you want to accomplish to better yourself!
- Go to college | get a degree
- Fall in love
- Get married
- Have children
- Buy a house
- Work in a profession that I love
- Own a business
- Adopt a pet
- Learn to meditate
- Find a new hobby
- Go to the gym regularly
- Create a bucket list
- Stay in touch with friends and family
- Read a book every month
- Find something to be grateful for everyday
- Do a random act of kindness everyday
- Mediate everyday
- Use a journal everyday
- Start a blog
- Save money
- Get a tattoo
Bucket List Ideas for Couples
While it’s nice to have a personal Bucket List, it’s also nice to create a Bucket List of ideas you and your partner would enjoy doing to live healthy, happy, and fulfilled lives together.
This list might include things like travel or dance that you enjoy doing together, as well as big steps in life that you want to take together such as travel the world.
Here are some couples’ Bucket List Ideas that seemed to appear a lot during my research:
- Get a couples massage together
- Go on a dream vacation
- Buy your dream home
- Help your partner made a big dream come true
- Go on a double date
- Go on a cruise
- Volunteer together
- Go to church together
- Say “I love you” and hear it back often
- Get a surprise love letter from your partner
- Go on a picnic together
- Take an afternoon ride together
- Dress up in a couples’ costumes for Halloween
- Learn to dance together
- Go skinny dipping together
- Go to a rooftop bar and stargaze
- Take a long weekend to get away
- Visit each other’s home towns
- Binge watch a new TV show all weekend
- Do a movie marathon together
- Cook dinner together | take a cooking class
- Stay in bed all day together
- Take a spontaneous road trip
- Horseback riding on the beach | in the mountains
- Host a couples game night
- Host a Charcuterie Party with friends
- Take a hot air balloon ride
- Take a bubble bath together
- Take a horse carriage ride
- Stay in a hotel room with a hot tub
- Sleep under the stars
- Sit by a fire together
- Complete a puzzle together
- Have breakfast in bed
You’ll notice that some of these Bucket List ideas are not major productions, or costly activities. Your Bucket List can be as basic and simple as you want it to be, or it can be more detailed and thorough. For example, my husband and I do many of these items regularly so I wouldn’t consider them bucket list items — but I am blessed to have had someone in my life for 43 years to do these things with.
Meaningful Bucket List Ideas
Many people include ideas for Bucket Lists that have special meaning in their lives, such a learning about their family genealogy or volunteering in a nursing home that took great care of a family member.
While we sometimes create Bucket Lists for desires and dreams — life activities that have special meaning to us can enrich our lives, increase happiness, and improve life satisfaction. So don’t forget to include special, meaningful Bucket List ideas on your list.
Pin to Pinterest for Later
These are some examples of Bucket List ideas I’ve seen for meaningful Bucket List ideas:
- Engage in a random act of kindness
- Start writing in a journal
- Tutor or mentor at-risk children
- Start a charity organization
- Figure out your core values in life
- Become an organ donor
- Donate your hair to a wig charity
- Forgive a friend who betrayed you
- Realize that your parents are only human and make mistakes too
- Take your parents to visit their childhood homes
- Reconcile with a friend or family member
- Visit the cemetery and leave flowers for a loved one
- Help an elderly neighbor with yard work
- Organize a family reunion
- Share your family tree with family members
- Start a new family tradition
- organize a holiday meal for a homeless shelter
Unusual Bucket List Ideas
Some people have unusual ideas for a Bucket List. There’s nothing wrong with that! Unusual can be good! We are all different, right? Here are some examples of items I’ve seen for unusual Bucket List ideas:
- Search for the Loch Ness monster
- Ride a train across the country
- Vacation in an igloo
- Break a Guinness World Record
- Go ice swimming
- Do a standup comedy gig
- Join a caravan in the Sahara desert
- Shave your head
- Learn to say HELLO in 50 languages
- Start a band
- Learn to yodel
- Dye your hair a crazy color every month
- Ride an elephant in India
- Lay in the rain
- Crash a stranger’s wedding
- Sleep in a coffin for a night
- Go ghost hunting
Do YOU have any unusual or unique Bucket List ideas on your Bucket List?
Travel Bucket List Ideas
Travel Bucket Lists can vary widely — as you might imagine! There are so many places to visit, and things to see all over this great Earth! These are some Bucket List examples that seem to show up frequently for places that people want to travel:
- Hike in the Grand Canyon
- New York | Statue of Liberty | Times Square
- Los Angeles | Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Kruger National Park in Africa
- Serengeti National Park in Africa
- Wall of China
- Great Pyramids of Egypt
- Machu Picchu in Peru, South America
- The Taj Mahal, India
- Rome’s Ancient Coliseum
- Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, South America
- Stonehenge, England
- Amazon Rainforest and River, South America
- Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
- Greece | Athens | Santorini
- Sydney Opera House, Australia
- Dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia
- Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
- See the Northern Lights in Norway | Alaska | Iceland
- Niagara Falls, Canada
- Ride through the Sahara Desert
- Canals of Amsterdam
- Berlin Wall
- Walk the Golden Gate Bridge
- Visit the White House | Washington, D.C.
- Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
- Mount Kilimanjaro
- Bora Bora, French Polynesia
- Venice, Italy
Looking at this list probably makes you realize the vast differences people have in their desires to travel. I honestly have no desire (at this point in my life) to travel to any other continents than Africa. I enjoy learning about many of these places, but I wouldn’t add them to my Bucket List ideas because I want to visit the 50 states first. Maybe after I visit all 50 states, I’ll start adding some other countries:)
Do you have a Travel Bucket List?
Example of a Bucket List
I debated whether to include my own Bucket List, or part of my Bucket List, in this article. But I decided to include part of it so you’ll see a real example of a Bucket List. I will BOLD the items from my Bucket List that I have already accomplished. The first 9 items go as far back as childhood, and the others are items I’ve added since my 30’s, and as recently as last year.
My list is too long to include everything but I hope you’ll get an idea of how diverse (and silly) a real Bucket list can be. Don’t laugh at my list:)
Susan’s Bucket List
- Go to college
- Become a teacher (special educator)
- Get married
- Have children
- Buy a house
- Meet Bobby Sherman
- Become an actress
- Win an Academy Award
- Write a book
- Visit all 50 States (33 so far… 4 more in 2022)
- Cruise to Alaska
- Swim with dolphins
- Horseback right in the Rocky Mountains
- Become a school administrator
- Speak at national special education conferences
- Start a website | blog
- Find my passion and purpose in retirement
- Visit National Parks (Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Redwoods, Denali)
- Stay in a hotel suite with a hot tub
- Get a couples’ massage
- Lose weight
- Go to Los Angeles
- Develop and maintain a healthy mindset
- Raise my children to be happy productive adults
- Advocate for the disabled
- Advocate for children’s rights
- Become National Board Certified as an Exceptional Needs Specialist
- Be a lifelong learner
- Be involved in the lives of my grandchildren
- Utilized strategies to deal with challenges
- Recover from traumatic brain injury and PTSD
- Go on an African Safari and Giraffe Manor
- Lose more weight | recover from autoimmune issues
- Stay active in the community
- Cruise more often
- Have my hair done on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills by Jose Eber
- Visit Scotland to see where Outlander is filmed
Bucket List Ideas for a Balanced Life
Although checking off items on our Bucket List can be rewarding, we must be careful NOT to focus too much on ONLY our wants and desires. We need to find a BALANCE in life where we are have goals and dreams combined with appreciation for what we already have in life. In other words, we need to live a balanced life with our Bucket Lists.
It’s important to be content with what we have — and have a heart of gratitude. It’s important to note that a Bucket List should not be associated with a selfish mindset that negates others. It’s not healthy to fill our minds with nothing but desires for more in life.
So don’t forget these little — but very important — aspects of personal growth and a balanced life.
- Be present and mindful at all times.
- Be content with what you have in life.
- Develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude.
- Enjoy and appreciate all of your life experiences.
- Don’t waste time worrying about things you can’t change.
- Keep smiling.
- Choose to have a joyful mindset.
- Accept that you will have struggles in life and you will survive.
- Develop and maintain a positive, healthy mindset.
- Focus on your physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual health.
- Believe that there are many reasons that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.
- Leave the past in the past.
- Self-reflection is a great personal growth activity to help you achieve happiness.
- Protect your peace of mind.
- Celebrate life every day.
- Find your zen and find calm in the chaos.
- Be kind and compassionate toward others.
- Set a good example for others.
For additional inspiration about ways to life a balanced, but full life, check out Live Life to Your Fullest: 64 Ways to Live a Full Life. You’ll see a lot of the same concepts I mentioned above, but with more contextual detail.
Final Thoughts: Bucket List Ideas and Rules
A Bucket List helps you stop and think about all the things you’d like to do to live a life of passion, purpose, and positivity. It helps you become the person you are supposed to become in life!
It helps you remember to BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS and have HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. And it provides a road map for how to make those things happen.
Some people also like to rank their Bucket Lists in order of importance. It’s a way of prioritizing your life’s goals and accomplishments. I can’t honestly say this has been something I’ve done, but I wholeheartedly agree that it would be beneficial for some personality types!
And remember, there needs to be a balance between your Bucket List ideas that help you live with passion, purpose, and positivity and a healthy mindset about gratitude and appreciate for the things you already have in life.
I wish you great success with your Bucket List ideas and hope you’ve found this article helpful!
Love to All! ~ Susan