7 Ways to Make Your Bucket List a Reality

Do you have a bucket list? A dream sheet? A To-Do list? Is it just sitting around somewhere collecting dust? If so, check out these 7 ways to make your bucket list a reality.

Bucket List bucket

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “one day I’m going to…”, only for that one day to never arrive?

We’ve done that.

Too many times.

Often times we’ll think of something and say, “we should do that”, only to forget about it until something reminds us that we wanted to do it. We decided we needed a way to keep up with our dreams. Most importantly, we needed a way to make sure those dreams became a reality.

This past Christmas, we found a way to keep up with our “we should” list. Enter….the bucket-list bucket. Yup, we decided to us an actual bucket. Although we could have just made one, Be couldn’t resist the one above that she found on Amazon. (For those of you who love it as much as she did, click here to find it on Amazon.

So now we had our bucket for our bucket-list items. But, how to make sure they didn’t just sit in the bucket? We wondered, what steps do we need to take to make sure those items become a reality?

We came up with 7 ways to make sure our bucket-list items didn’t just collect dust in the bucket. Ready?

1. Make it your own

Bucket List Goals

Your list should be meaningful to you.

There are tons of “bucket list ideas”, “must do before you die”, and “things to-do” lists on the internet, but choosing a pre-made bucket-list is like letting someone else choose all your meals for you. It may sound great at first, but eventually you may realize not only do you not care for all the foods picked for you, but many of the meals may cost more than you want to pay.

As Ashley Bowden from Odyssey states in her article Ten Reasons You Should Make a Bucket List, your bucket list should give purpose to your life, it should be something you really want to do, a goal you want to reach, or something you want to get out of life.

For more advice on why your bucket should be uniquely yours, check out Morgan Taylor’s article The Pros and Cons of Making a Bucket List.

2. Choose long-term and short-term items

Items in your bucket-list don’t have to be grand or years away. You can have a fitness item (do a 2x body weight dead-lift or cycle 40 miles), a skill item (learn to sew, ski, or write a blog), or an item as simple as take a belly dancing lesson.

If you read our “about us“, you know we are avid rock climbers and enjoy cycling. Be threw two bucket list items in as soon as we opened our bucket. She wants to lead a 5.10 climb by the end of 2019 and ride the Katy Trail (240 miles) for her 60th birthday (3 years away). Carl also threw in a climbing bucket-list item. He wants to lead Peacemaker (a remote 7 pitch 5.10 climb) by fall of 2019 and take Be to Niagara Falls within 5 years.

Making our bucket list a reality
Two of our bucket list items and Carl working on his technique

By including short term bucket-list items, you won’t feel like you’re always waiting for something so far away that’s it’s hard to imagine it actually happening. Short term items can also keep you focused on the doing, and not just the dreaming, part of a bucket list.

3. Post! Post! Post!

schedule bucket list items to make them a reality
Get it on the calendar!

Our bucket-list bucket is only the beginning. Since we write items down and put them in our bucket as we think of them, we take the items out every month and add them to our calendar or, for farther away items, in our long term planner (an Excel document on the computer).

Every January, we pull up that file and see what we need to get on the calendar for that year (this also helps us plan for our vacation time throughout the year).

4. Have a plan of action

Some items on your list may need milestones (smaller goals) in order to make that item a reality. Be’s goal of riding the Katy Trail for her 60th birthday meant we’d need to get lots and lots of time on our bikes. To make sure this happened, we scheduled bike rides in each month, deciding in advance how many miles we wanted to cover.

Be on her bike for her Katy Ride bucket list a reality
Be out for a training ride

Adding those smaller items to the calendar also helps make sure we are focusing on the right goals. Since we both have climbing goals for this year (and the Katy Trail is still 3 years away), we make sure that we schedule in enough climbing trips to allow us to work on our technique and climbing strength.

5. Keep it simple

Choosing too many items will not only be overwhelming, it can actually keep you from achieving any of your items from selection overload.

10,000 bucket list items
Can you even imagine?

We don’t even know how to wrap our brains around a list of 10,000 items. Just the idea of scrolling through a list like this to find items that would fit our lifestyle is daunting. Avoid lists like these and create a list that adds meaning to your life and is something you really want to do/see/achieve.

We suggest starting with 2-5 items that you can achieve in a year and 1 you can achieve in 3-5 years. Be sure to factor in the milestone goals that any of the items require so you don’t become overwhelmed with preparing for or saving for too many items at one time.

6. Strive to build on your life story, not bankrupt your bank account

Probably the two most expensive items we have on our bucket list are the trip to the Grand Canyon and riding the Katy Trail. Both of these items are once in a life-time events for us.

My bucket list to see my sister is a surprise

Although the trip to Niagara Falls could fall into this category, we plan on combining it with a trip to see Be’s sister in Virginia (which will reduce some of the cost). Shhh…she doesn’t know about this yet.

Most of the items on our list will only cost the gas to get there and the food we take/eat along the way. Although it would be nice to visit other countries, attend a Patriot’s game, take a cruise, or swim with dolphins, we’re just not sure how much we could justify the expense of such items (given our lifestyle and spending habits) or how such items would fit into the overall fabric of our life.

When we look at our bucket list, we want to feel excited with anticipation for the things we are going to do, not feel burdened with concerns regarding how much of a hit our bank account is going to take.

That said, if there is something you have always wanted and it’s going to be quite expensive. Estimate the total cost of the event, divide that by how much you feel you can set aside each year for it, put a date on your long term bucket list to do it, then, start saving!

7. Join others on their bucket list

Our good friends Jean and Rick hike parts of the Grand Canyon several times a year. Rick is turning 70 and wants to celebrate with one last hike to the bottom of the canyon, spending the night at Phantom Ranch, and then hiking back out. This requires a permit and being selected from a drawing. A trip that was several years in the making. They were drawn for the hike this year, and with permit in hand, asked us to join them.

Although we had both been to the Grand Canyon, neither of us had ever hiked to the bottom so we were excited to add Jean and Rick’s bucket-list item to our bucket list.

Our friends Jean and Rick who will let us join them on their bucket list Grand Canyon hike.
Our good friends Rick and Jean

AND, since Jean and Rick had taken care of all the paperwork and planning, all we have to do to make this item a reality is send them a check for our share of expenses and wait for the day to head to the canyon. Pretty sweet, huh?

The best advice we can give for making your bucket list a reality is to make it yours, not something compiled from lists on the internet. Select items that add meaning to your life and are important to you. And finally, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Those items won’t happen by happenstance, you’ve got to plan for them, save for them, and prepare for them. And then, once the day arrives….enjoy!

What’s on your bucket list? We’d love to hear from you.


Be and Carl

3 thoughts on “7 Ways to Make Your Bucket List a Reality”

  1. I love this so much!! I have a bucket list, but Steve and I need to make one together 🙂

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Becca. We’d love to hear some of the things you and Steve would like to do together.

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