The Don’ts of Writing a Bucket List

California Beaches - Vacation

Creating a bucket list is the first step to accomplishing your dreams and using up those vacation days. If you don’t like the idea of a bucket list because you associate it with dying, being old, or even setting unrealistic goals, you can call it whatever you like but call it something and write it down. You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve if you dream about the possibilities and set measurable goals. I create a list every year and it’s been a highly successful way to achieve more than I ever imagined possible. The more unrealistic we are with our dreams and goals, the more we are able to achieve. When creating your list, however, it’s important to keep these simple suggestions in mind.

1. Don’t set too many unachievable goals that you quit before you really get started. If all of your goals are difficult to accomplish, your list isn’t going to be very effective.  Make some items easy and less time/cost consuming. As you start checking things of your list, you will be surprised how much momentum you can gain, making it easier to accomplish some of the ones that require more effort.

2. Don’t do it because you have to; do it because it motivates you to dream and envision the best life possible for you and your family. Creating a list isn’t a contest, unless you want it to be. Don’t make it hard work. Have fun. The whole idea of this is to start making steps to do the things you want to do with your life. So don’t stress about it.

3. Don’t miss out on spontaneity because you have a list item to tick off. You can always go back to it if something better comes up.

4. Don’t write your list all at once.  This isn’t an easy list to write.  You may get to 20 or 30 things, and start drawing a blank.  Don’t get discouraged, just take some time off before you come back to it.  This is an evolving process. Many people will never have a completed list because it will constantly be evolving. Whenever you think of something, write it down and add it.

5. Don’t focus on only one area of your life. Usually when people start their lists, the vast majority of the first things they write down are things related to travel. Obviously, I’m no exception to this rule. There’s nothing wrong with that, but try and expand into other aspects of your life. Hobbies, finances, mental health, fitness, relationships, and activities are all great things to consider when building a list, regardless if it’s a list for a year or a lifetime.  Similarly, if you have a purpose for the locations you want to travel, you can make your trip that much more fulfilling.

6. Don’t limit yourself to your own imagination. Read other people’s lists. You may not want to accomplish the same items as others, but they will provide motivation and insight into possible items.

7. Don’t get in a “someday” mindset. Include something you can do today or this week. Each day has 86,400 seconds. Accomplish something today. There are plenty of things you can do right now that you have always said you wanted to do, but just never made the time to start.  Well, now is that time!

8. Don’t only set broad goals. It’s great that you want to go to Australia; add it to your list, but don’t forget the smaller items while you’re there like rubbing your toes in the sand or building a sand castle on Bondi Beach. Set both broad and targeted goals to leave room for unexpected adventures.

9. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste. Regardless of the job you do or how much you love your career, everyone needs a vacation. Heck, I vacation for a living and I need time away from it.

10. Don’t ever give up. If you truly want something badly enough, you can make it a reality. Go after your dreams. Push the limits. And live your best life.

27 thoughts on “The Don’ts of Writing a Bucket List

  1. My cousin told me about this great place in North Wales

    I thought it might be something you’d want to add to your list if you ever make it to Wales. They also have the longest and fastest zipwire in Europe


  2. I’m doing this, thanks for the ideas and motivation. Over the years I’ve come up with lots of things I want to do “someday”. The problem was, while I saw a lot of days come I never saw a ” someday”. Also, I never wrote these goals down. I think for me the idea of creating a list was that this is a commitment. As I read this post, I thought this does not have to be a must do list. That if I don’t do something on my list, it’s ok. Thanks and I hope the coming year is a glorious year for you.


  3. I think goal setting is a great way to encourage a person to think about their lives and I agree that large and small goals are important to keep you motivated on a course of action. I also think being willing to let them go and move on, if for some reason they become unattainable. Knowing when to let go of a goal, I think is as important as knowing when to strive to reach one. I know my mind needs this kind of attainment to get me focusing on what is important in my life. Long term and short term and I am extremely proud of what I have achieved but I also know the importance of allowing space-to just relax. Its a very fluid subject for me. 🙂


  4. Wonderful, a step by step guide to making a Bucket List. I always seem to get stuck on the fantastical ideas but I like the idea of dreaming smaller too. Thank you for another year of inspiration. Happy New Year to you and your family. May 2015 exceed your dreams.


    • Oh goodness… I never said don’t set unachievable goals. I set them every day. I just said don’t make them all unachievable. You need to experience both disappointment and success 😉


  5. Happy New Year Leslie! Guess it’s that time of the year to make the list already? You have great notes here and I will definitely keep them in mind, thanks for sharing 🙂


  6. Great list! One more: Don’t appreciate only big goals. We do so many small things every day we tend to forget about them. For example, you may don’t think, but cooking a traditional Christmas dinner then baking Christmas cookies, drinking mulled wine and walking in a Christmas market are cool bucket list goals that make Christmas enjoyable and intimate.


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