Creating A Realistic Bucket List

Whenever someone tells me that they are new to listmaking — I always suggest making a life list or bucket list first.  You know yourself better than anyone and you know what you like and don’t like.  A bucket list is a collection of your greatest hopes, dreams and goals.  It can include something as extreme as “travel around the world,” or as practical as “learn Spanish.”  But it is important to make your list attainable if you really are serious about crossing off all the items.  For ways to keep your list manageable and realistic — Christine Harding from offers this guest post:

How to create a manageable and realistic bucket list

by Christine Harding

A bucket list is meant to compile those sights, activities, events, and accomplishments we hope to rack up during our exceedingly limited time on the planet. We don’t have to check them all off, of course: The pursuit of them is ultimately what matters, as is the compiling itself—which, at its best, teaches us something about ourselves. Nobody can tell you what to include on your own bucket list, but here are a few guidelines and suggestions to get the inspiration firing.

Take in destinations and sights you’ve always wanted to visit and see—not just the ones you’re expected to. The Taj Mahal, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon—there are innumerable “must-see” wonders, both man made and wild.  The “worldly” seem to be required to visit these destinations as a notch on their belt.

Follow Your Heart

All of those places are worthy of a trip, but only if they’re specifically meaningful to you. Don’t clog up your very own bucket list with items you feel obligated to include. Instead, think of the places you’ve always wanted to see—no matter how kitschy, modest, or goofy they might seem. Maybe it’s the factory that sources your beloved car—or your favorite candy. Maybe it’s some rural hinterland from which a major line of your family originated. Maybe it’s a place about which you know nothing, but which has always signified something mysterious, marvelous, and exotic: the Aleutian Islands, say, or Mount Kilimanjaro.

Everyone has their own idea of what life’s all about, of course, but one good vein to follow is this: Engage in experiences that make you feel most alive, that open your eyes to the glorious, chaotic, unfathomable diversity of the world. Tracking down some obscure landmark that nonetheless calls to you is a venture worth pursuing—and you don’t have to analyze it at all. Be a little reckless and adventurous, and finally travel to the world’s largest Twinkie or the tiny town of Zjvdasvkbeih that’s always beckoned you.

Food For Thought

Let your stomach and taste buds lead you. Unless you extract no joy at all from eating and drinking, cuisine is a marvelous portal through which to experience the planet and get the most out of your stint on it. Reserve a few tiers on your bucket list for hunting down the sources of some of your favorite foods or beverages.

For example, maybe you’re a complete sucker for flatbreads: Well, seek out a few regional examples in authentic environments. That could mean traveling from Central Asia to Mexico, but it might also take the more realistic and affordable form of sniffing out great ethnic restaurants, food carts, and other eateries closer to home. Go visit the home brewery of your beloved lager or ale, the orchards that produce that apple variety you can’t get enough of, an old trade route through which your essential spice once journeyed. Food and drink are among our most intimate communions with the Earth, and adventuring in the gustatory realm can make you feel more connected with the grand ecological food systems—not to mention the throbbing variety of human culture and tradition.

The Wonders of the World

Take in a few extremes of the planet—the marvelously wild and the exquisitely developed. Again, these should be places you feel motivated to visit, but basking in the magnificence of physical landscape and astounding human architecture can be a transcendent and spiritual experience. Spend a few days aligning to the ancient schedule of the planet: Visit a place like Yellowstone National Park, get away from the crowds, and commune with glacially scoured mountain amphitheaters, spouting hydrothermal pools, great ranks of trackless forest. After all, that’s the world, too—it’s not some archaic, vanishing thing, but a continually vital component of our planet’s systems. Then travel to some tribute to human ingenuity and craftsmanship: an imposing statue, a grand cathedral, a historic government building. Such works of art and architecture are rich in symbolism, imbued with much of what the human experience is all about.

A Bucket List All Your Own

Don’t be afraid to follow your gut instinct, and never worry about what others might think of your choices. They are, after all, yours. Maybe you’ll get to all those fantastic places, do all those crazy things, and meet all those impressive folks—and maybe you won’t. Either way, it’s about looking clearly at the world and celebrating your priceless ticket to ride.

Christine Harding is a freelance writer for Gifts. Christine is married and has two children. She has enjoyed worldwide travel and immerses herself in the local culture where possible. Her passion is writing to share her life experiences.

2 replies
  1. Brian
    Brian says:

    I had a “Things to Do Before I’m 30” List. The list included: owning a house, get a tattoo, go to Paris, get a Driver’s License (late bloomer in that sense). Completed it all two and a half weeks before!
    I guess now it’s time to start my “Things to Do Before I’m 40” List. 😉


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