How to Make a Bucket List: Step-By-Step Instructions + 25 Amazing Bucket List Ideas

Want to get out there and conquer the world, but hate all the suggestions for what you should do with your life-altering list of objectives? Instead of following someone else’s idea of life goals, why not make your own bucket list?

If you’re unsure how to make a bucket list, you’re in luck: we’ll give you a step-by-step guide to creating a list for your ultimate dream adventures. And when done, you can mark “learning how to make a bucket list” off your bucket list!

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How to Make Your Own Bucket List

It doesn’t matter whether you’re going through some life-changing upheaval or hoping to kickstart a change yourself. The first rule of making your bucket list is to toss aside any worries of it being wrong. Other than not starting one in the first place, you won’t find any right or wrong way to make your bucket list. So, let’s get started.

1. Choose a Name

Before you start brainstorming, you’ll want to give your bucket list ideas a name. 

Not everyone is in love with cataloging their adventures under a header of things they want to do before they kick the bucket, ergo, their bucket list. 

So, if the term conjures images of facing down your mortality in a staring contest, you may feel like changing it to something more wistful or objective. 

As with many parts of this process, you’ll find that the only rule to naming your bucket list is no rules. The best name will capture your desires for the list and prepare you to explore and accomplish everything you’ve written down on paper. 

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • The Life Plan 
  • Wish List
  • My Summer Adventures List
  • The Itch List
  • Life’s Little Victories
  • The List of Infinite Dreams 
  • The Must-Do’s of My Life

Of course, if you’re the kind of person who needs a little encouragement to get going and feel that sense of urgency, titling it your Bucket List or Things To Do Before I Die list is fine too.

The purpose of the name is to remind you why you started in the first place. Maybe you need to scratch at dreams that have been itching to break free for years or overcome small fears and achieve little victories in life. 

Your bucket list isn’t about dreaming up big things; it’s about doing big things. And your list should help light the fire to get you started. 

2. Pick Your Format

You’ve picked out your epic, perfect, ultimate bucket list name; now, you’ll want to choose a format that speaks to you. More importantly, one where you’re not likely to use it once and then never look at it again. 

As children of the digital age, we have hundreds of options at our fingertips for where to write and store our bucket lists. For example, you could create a digital spreadsheet and divide your bucket list ideas into color-coded columns and rows. Or, keep it in print and scribble them in a tiny notebook small enough to fit in your pocket. 

Speaking of things that fit in your pocket, an app could be a great way to keep track of all your goals and ideas in one place. A place you’re not likely to lose any time soon. And as a bonus, you may even find a community of like-minded people to offer ideas and encourage you to stick to your goals.

Turn Your Bucket List into a Vision Board

Visuals can be a powerful source of encouragement and inspiration, so don’t underestimate what they can do for you. Try adding visual aids for each of the items on your bucket list. Even if you’re making hard copy lists, consider printing out images and vision boards to drum up excitement for turning each bucket list item into a reality. 

Going the digital route? No problem. You’ll find a slew of apps to help you create the perfect inspo-board and track your goals:

  • iWish – allows you to browse categories, find new ideas, track your progress, and even set reminders
  • Woovly: The Bucket List App – helps you connect and engage with other bucket listers, discover new ideas, and share experiences
  • Buckist – offers custom lists for users to manage and find inspiration
  • Pinterest – allows users to create boards and sections to attach articles, pictures, and inspiration for bucket list items
  • Notes App – lets you quickly add new ideas, checklists, and pictures to bring your bucket list to life

3. Brainstorm

Dreamstorming, mind mapping, wish collecting—it’s time to begin whatever you want to call your brainstorming process. 

Outside of the decision to make a bucket list, consider this the most important part of the creation process: filling blank pages with words, dreams, and goals for the future. Your pages are for your eyes only, so take a step back from what you think is impossible or even downright silly. Want to speak in song lyrics for a day or set a world record for the tallest toilet paper tower in thirty seconds? Write it down!

Your brainstorming shouldn’t be subject to self-edits, indecision, or pesky things like feasibility. 

Vary Your Timeframe

Making a bucket list is easy, but completing it is another matter. As you work on yours, keep the timing in mind. You don’t want a ton of goals you need to complete in the next year.

Conversely, you don’t want to set them off in the distant future either. 

Your list should be items you can do throughout the months and years of your life: a life list. So, vary your timeframe with things you want to achieve in the next six months, the next five years, ten years, and—you get the idea.

Channel the “Kid” in You

If you want a bucket list of fun things to do, channel your inner child. What did you find fun when you were growing up? What did you always want to do as a kid but never got the chance to do? 

Bumping around in a bounce house with your best friend, building your own stuffed toy, or playing on a firetruck might seem like kid stuff, but we’re pretty sure it’ll bring a smile to your face and get your bucket list off to the right start. 

Aim for Variety

You don’t need a list of perfectly curated ideas to start. Instead, focus on creating a bucket list with various life experiences in and outside your comfort zone. 

For example, choose a category and brainstorm ideas under it. Perhaps you want to learn something, so you brainstorm ideas like learning a new language or how to drive a stick shift. Maybe even think up some ideas for learning a new work-related skill like writing or design. 

Once you’ve compiled a decent list, move on to another category. Consider things that make you laugh, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, goals for self-improvement, special places to visit, etc. 

The more variety you can achieve in your brainstorming and lists, the more well-rounded and accomplished you’ll feel as you cross off these items.

Add Some Things You’ve Already Done

When you’re creating a bucket list, it helps to include some things you’ve already done. Not only does it serve as a headstart, but it’s also an effective tool for encouragement. Including items you’ve already achieved shows that what you’re doing can indeed be done. 

Having a list filled with completed items, short-term goals, and long-term desires can make it much easier to take the first step on your bucket list journey.

Be Specific

Write down an idea like “visit Turkey” on your bucket list. Now, think about why you want to visit that country specifically. Do you want to lay eyes on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul? Maybe go for a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia? Coming up with a specific reason for wanting to visit a place can help make your plans and your bucket list feel more concrete. 

The same is true for non-travel-related goals. Considering an extreme sport? Narrow it down to something like bungee jumping and pick a location. Including specific details like that will help you nail down concrete plans and follow through.

Ask Your Friends for Ideas

No one knows you better than a close friend. Chat with them about things they’ve always dreamed of doing and things they’ve always wanted to learn. You don’t have to include all of your friends’ suggestions on your bucket list, but it could be a good starting point for activities you haven’t thought of yet.

In addition, your friends can help you pick out fun experiences, but also ones that will push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you.

Don’t Worry If It’s Out of the Ordinary

Creating your bucket list comes with no rules or preset expectations. Nothing says you have to be predictable when choosing what you’re going to do. You can create a bucket list with nothing but wild adventures at every turn. So, don’t hold back. 

If you want to run a marathon in a foreign country, volunteer at an elephant sanctuary, or set a Guinness World Record for the strangest thing you can find on there, then include it. If it puts a smile on your face or makes you grit your teeth in determination, you’re on the right track.

It’s Okay to Be Predictable

Of course, we can’t forget the run-of-the-mill bucket list items too. 

Even if your goal is creating unique and fun things to do on your bucket list, don’t immediately dismiss some things just because they’re mainstream. After all, they’re popular for a reason. Things like riding a mechanical bull, seeing the northern lights, and horseback riding on the beach are must-do activities for many people. 

So, if you find yourself contemplating a trip around all seven continents or skinny dipping when no one’s watching, don’t be afraid to jot them down.

4. Categorize Your Bucket Lists

Once you’ve finished brainstorming, it’s time to sort your list into categories. Not all of them must be completed by a certain age or year, but it’ll make it easier to split them up depending on when you want to do them and when you can. Here are just a few ways you can categorize your bucket lists.

  • Age Range (20s, 30s, 40s, etc.)
  • Season (spring, summer, winter, fall)
  • Year (2022, 2026, 2030)
  • Milestone (“I want to do this before I get married”)
  • Place (local, state, international)
  • Fulfilling Life Goals (social, travel, knowledge)

You can categorize your bucket list in any way, so long as it works for you. Breaking it up into these distinct categories helps you prioritize different items as needed and ensure you’re not focusing too much on one aspect of your life. You don’t want to put all your efforts into making financial goals and miss accomplishing other goals related to travel, important milestones, and big accomplishments.

5. Pick Your Top Three

If you thought planning your bucket list was fun, just wait until you get out there and start doing the things on your bucket list. But where should you start?

It can be more than a bit overwhelming to look at your list and decide where to get started. You may find yourself frozen in indecision, unsure how—or even if—you’ll go through with it. 

So, start small. Pick your top three items off your bucket list. It doesn’t matter what they are or where they fall in your categories. Go through your list and pick out the ones that catch your eye, give you a rush, and make your heart pump faster. 

Or, look for the items that need doing now and get them scheduled on your calendar ASAP.

Starting small with just three items keeps your list from overwhelming you and helps pull you from the murky pool of indecision you might otherwise find yourself caught in. 

6. Talk It Up

You’ve put a lot of hard work into your bucket list, from naming it to picking out your goals. Now to keep you from throwing away all that hard work, tell it to everyone you know. 

While it may seem braggy, corny, or even wildly optimistic, sharing your bucket list is a big deal! If you want to ratchet up the excitement, stay motivated, and hold yourself accountable, telling others is the perfect way to do it.

25 Amazing Bucket List Ideas to Get You Started

Even with your perfect blueprint for making a bucket list, you may still have some trouble brainstorming your list and getting started. If that’s the case, fear not, because Next Vacay has some incredible ideas to help inspire your own bucket list. 

  1. Go on safari
  2. Sleep in a castle
  3. Visit all 50 states
  4. Walk on a glacier
  5. Swim with sharks
  6. Live in a foreign country
  7. Ride a motorcycle
  8. Go parasailing
  9. Write a book
  10. Take a job in another country
  11. Get a tattoo
  12. Become fluent in another language
  13. Go to a ball
  14. Lead a major project
  15. Learn to dance the rumba
  16. Go dog sledding
  17. Start a new tradition with your family
  18. Walk on a pink sand beach
  19. Climb a volcano
  20. Create an A to Z bucket list
  21. Learn how to blow glass
  22. Release baby turtles into the ocean
  23. Go swimming in a cenote
  24. Stay up to watch the sunset and sunrise
  25. Book a Next Vacay Flight

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