How To Actually Do Things On Your Bucket List

We have a bucket list goal to visit as many U.S. National Parks as possible

There may be many things you would like to do in your lifetime, but how much have you really accomplished so far? How much time have you spent on the couch instead of pursuing the adventures you truly crave?

What is holding you back from turning your dreams into a reality? Maybe it's just that you aren't sure where to start.

Here is an extensive guide to checking off those dreams of yours. These are my methods for doing the things I really want to do in this life.


It may seem obvious, but have you really written down a definitive bucket list? Your list may not be long but the first step to reaching your goals is to get them out of your head and onto paper. Here are some tips to get you started. 

  • Write a draft of the things you think you want to accomplish: Set aside just ten minutes, or even five, to write down whatever comes to you. Don't worry about punctuation, and don't censor yourself. Just write down anything and everything you can think of that sounds good to you. It could be anything from writing a novel to eating at a certain fancy restaurant. Don't bother searching Google for ideas. This is your list; it should come from you. As you write your list, keep in mind that you will be editing it.
  • Edit. Cut out anything you don't truly want to do before you die. It helps me to save a separate list of things I kind of want to do in order to simplify my list of absolutely-must-dos. 
  • Consider categorizing your list so that it is more cohesive and so you can review your goals at a glance. Check out my bucket list for an example. The app, Trello, can help you categorize your list as well.
  • Now that you have your list, it's time to prioritize. Rearrange each item so that the list starts with what you want to do most or what you can plausibly do first. 
  • Next pick one thing or a few things that you would like to accomplish in the next year. Keep it simple. Between one and three big goals for a year is sufficient. For example, this year I want to finally ride in a hot air balloon and have a paint fight. That's it. There are several smaller things I would like to do throughout the year but those are my main bucket list goals. 

I finally hosted a paint fight in the summer of 2019


Next, choose your top to do item and break it down. For each goal I write out a list of the things I need to do in order to achieve it. I do my best to make a long list of simple tasks so that I have a lot of easy steps to take.

For example, my list for a paint fight looks like this:

Research ideas on Google and Pinterest

• Research type of paint to use

• Guesstimate how much paint I will need

• Brainstorm possible locations 

• Make a list of people to invite

• Calculate the cost of paint

• Buy tempura paint set

• Buy/borrow pump guns

• Ask around to borrow a Twister mat and buckets

• Choose a date

• Invite friends on Facebook

And the list goes on. 
Maybe this method is a little extreme but it works wonders.

Obviously, I will do a lot of these at the same time. But the little steps make it easier to get some things done without overwhelming myself.

With this approach I am less likely to procrastinate and much more likely to accomplish my dreams. Plus it's fun to check off each little task as I go.

I allow myself a whole year to get around to the few bucket list items I want to cross off because, of course, life happens.

It may seem like this would take a long time to reach my goals but seeking just a few new experiences every year keeps me motivated. An all or nothing approach would burn me out pretty quickly.

In 2017, I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream to travel to Alaska where I saw the northern lights!


So you want to travel the world. It's too bad you can't do it all at once. It's best to pick certain places you would like to visit. Even better, figure out what you want to do and see in each of these places. The clearer your vision is, the better chance you give yourself of making your dreams a reality.


It's easy to write down, "get fit," but that is impossible to do without a true definition of what it means to be fit.

 A measurable goal might involve accomplishing a certain fitness activity like running a marathon, or a Spartan Race, or being able to do a certain number of push ups.

Maybe you want to build your savings, but a goal to "save more money" will get you nowhere. How much do you want to save? What is this savings for? At what point will you be able to cross this item off your bucket list? If it's not measurable, you'll never be finished.


Making a list is a huge step, but it's only the first step.

This is why I choose several goals to tackle every year. The "deadline" may vary and should be slightly flexible.

You may have a list if things you want to do before you hit a certain age. A list of adventures to shoot for in five years is less daunting than a lifetime list. 

You can break your list down into even smaller increments too. Maybe you have a list of new experiences to seek in one summer and another list for fall, and so on.

And you need to decide exactly when you want to go on that trip to Europe. You can't honestly make a plan without some kind of time frame in mind.


I really really want to see the northern lights again. I also want to go to Banff National Park and I figure, why not do these at the same time? The next best time to see the Aurora Borealis will be in March or September of 2024. Once again, the deadline has kind of been decided for us.


A lot of the time the "when" is dependent on other factors such as money. So here's an idea that can help you set a time frame for yourself: Make a "Before I'm (insert age) list."

I have my full lifetime bucket list and a 30-Before-30 list which includes many things that are also on my main list. This shorter list helps keep me motivated and helps me decide which goals to focus on each year.


I recently read a quote that said "6 months of focus and hard work can put you 5 years ahead in life." You would think that 6 months of work would put you 6 months ahead. But consider someone who works at a goal sporadically for five years.

They might get a good start on learning a new skill then fail to follow through after a few days. Then a month or two later, they have to start over again because they have already forgotten everything they learned.

Say you want to run a marathon, or write a book. Maybe you want to learn a second language or how to play the piano.

These are obviously not one and done types of goals but bucket list dreams that will truly give meaning and a sense of accomplishment to your life.

It's important to plan how to reach a goal like this with a step-by-step list and with the added expectation to work on it frequently.

So, in addition to taking piano lessons or signing up for a Spanish class, it's important to practice multiple times a week. A habit tracker app can help you with that.

HabitBull and HabitHub are both great for keeping track of progress. You can track up to five habits for free.

I've used it to record daily exercise, piano practice, reading, and so on. This is a long term approach requiring that you take one baby step at a time.

Also, if you have a goal to read a certain number of books in your lifetime, Goodreads is the perfect app for that. If you're not using Goodreads already, you seriously need to get on that.

Consistency is key. That's why it's important to keep your goals simple.

Read just 20 minutes a day. Learn just 10 new Korean words everyday. Make it something you can do without too much effort.

Progress will seem slow, especially at first. But before you know it, you will have read 100 books and will be able to hold a conversation in Korean (or whatever your long term goal might be).


Okay, so this probably includes everything on your list, but I'll bet that you don't have enough savings to check off one adventure after another right now. That is why prioritization is crucial. If you really want to buy that fancy car someday, you might not want to eat out so much. If you want to travel, you might want to cut back on shopping.

Keep your bucket list savings separate from the rest of your funds. Calculate how much you will need for your next endeavor and how long it will take you to save up for it.

Then open a dedicated savings account for the allotted time. It's like a CD or certificate that allows you to keep depositing money. 

You can start an account with a credit union and, like a CD, that money is locked in for certain period of time. You can choose to open your dedicated savings account for as little as three months or up to five years. 

A small monthly deposit (usually $10) is required so you will automatically save up without having to try.

Though, you will probably want to save more than $10 at a time. Plus your money will make interest in a savings account!

You can't touch your savings (without a penalty fee) until it matures so you would have to make quite an effort to spend that money on something other than what you are saving for.

If your credit union does not offer dedicated savings accounts, you can always opt for a CD to help you stay on track with your savings goal.

Josiah and I like to try new foods in our hometown like this Korean kimchi stew! Trying new things often is a great motivator for our bigger bucket list dreams.


Whatever you accomplish in a year is totally up to you. If you want to try a dozen small things on your list, go for it! Just remember to prioritize and take it one small step at a time.

Keep yourself motivated by achieving smaller items on your list like making sushi at home or going to a concert.

When we seek new, small experiences on a regular basis we are practicing for the big adventures.

There are things on everyone's list that can be done at any time such as donating blood, or volunteer work in your hometown, or trying a new food.

Look at your list often and look for opportunities weekly. I keep mine on my phone and check it at least once a week. And I update it almost as often.

My best friend jumping off a 467 ft bridge. She made bungee jumping possible for me.


Share your list with someone. Opportunities often come through people you know.

In high school I shared my first bucket list with my closest friends. I went bungee jumping near the end of my senior year because, as it turns out, my best friend's dad had a friend who took people bungee jumping for work.

When I first wrote it down, I didn't think that dream would come true for many years. Because I shared my bucket list I got to go bungee jumping less than two years later for free!

Find someone who will help you stay on track with your goals. It may be your piano teacher or a friend who has the same fitness goals as you. Whatever your bucket list hopes are, you don't have to do it alone.

I love to reminisce on the good times I have already had like the time we celebrated our one year anniversary in Monterey Bay!


This may be the most helpful tip of all!
It's no surprise that living your dreams takes work. You may become discouraged at some point. It might feel like all the planning and saving money isn't actually getting you anywhere.

The best possible way to motivate yourself is to look back on all the experiences you have already had. That includes your big achievements and your small, unique experiences.

Every now and then, make a list of your past adventures. Review this list. Add to it. Find joy in the awesomeness of your life so far.

Whenever I look over my reverse bucket list I am filled with gratitude and I am thrilled at the thought of seeking more new experiences, more challenges, more living my best life

Related Post: 

How To Create A Reverse Bucket List


 I would love to know what is on your bucket list! 

What have you already done that has made you feel so alive? 

This is my favorite conversation topic, so please share with me in the comments below.

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog


Popular Posts