The Bucket List
Ana Ramirez had an epiphany: to cross things off a bucket list you have to at least have one. “I’m all about living life and paying attention to what matters to me, so why did I not have a bucket list?” says the San Diego, California-based photographer. Not long after, Ramirez had her list and slowly began checking things off as she completed them. “I started with the most obvious things like places I’d like to travel and experiences I’d like to have,” she says. “Some of the things on my list are big and will take more planning to accomplish, and others are easier.” Getting started on your own bucket list is simple. Follow these tips to start living your life to the fullest.
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF
The biggest rule in creating a bucket list: there are no rules. That means no item is too big (or small) to include such as watching the sunrise on a milestone birthday or experiencing Paris at night in the fall. “Don’t limit yourself to only big and crazy things—though those are good, too!” says Shelly Najjar, bucket list and travel blogger at TheGoalList.com. “Remember that part of embracing life and living it to the fullest is to appreciate and enjoy every moment, no matter how small. You don’t need big plans to make a big memory.”
CHOOSE THE (ALMOST) IMPOSSIBLE
Climbing Mount Everest may seem impossible to you today, but in a few years it may not. Don’t limit the possibilities—instead add anything and everything to your bucket list no matter how unreachable it may feel. “One of my top items is to play guitar with Gary Rossington from Lynyrd Skynyrd,” says life coach Jesse Bolinger, Ph.D. “This is far-fetched because it’s hard enough to get backstage passes to a Skynyrd show let alone to get the only surviving member to pick up a guitar with just one person.” But if you fail to include even the things that seem unattainable, you’re not allowing yourself even the opportunity to try and fulfill your goals.
Oftentimes, people see a list and feel as though they must cross off everything quickly. But bucket lists are meant to be enjoyed and completed over a period of time—not necessarily in the next week—so be flexible in your approach. “Sometimes I plan items and can’t do them when I’d like to, but I have the planning and preparation done so I can be ready to take advantage of the opportunity the next time it comes up,” says Najjar. “Bucket listing teaches the type-A person in me to let go of schedules and enjoy the moment because I can’t control or predict everything that will happen.”
CREATE A SUBSET LIST
Lists can be overwhelming; don’t let this one be. Focus on subcategories of your more difficult items. “For the bigger or time-limited goals, there’s usually more planning involved, so I try to prioritize some of those each year,” says Najjar. “I like to throw in some smaller goals, though, to keep the momentum going on those bigger items.” So maybe you won’t be able to ice skate in New York City at Rockefeller Plaza during the holidays this year, but you can make preparations now for next year.
ADD WHAT YOU’VE ALREADY DONE
It may seem redundant, but add to your list the items you accomplished already. “Listing stuff I had already done was a way of showing myself what I have already accomplished even though I’d like to do these again,” says Ramirez, who added taking a hot-air balloon ride over Napa and photographing wolves to her expansive bucket list.
Creating a bucket list—and crossing the items off—are the first two steps to fulfilling your dreams. But step three could easily be documenting it. When San Diego, California-based photographer Ana Ramirez set out to fulfill her bucket list, she started a blog. “The digital diary aspect of a blog makes it fun to go back and see how far I’ve come,” she explains. For author and entrepreneur Ian Usher (100 Goals in 100 Weeks), this online documentation served as the ideal memento after completing his list.“I took photos and videos of my journey, and kept a regular blog, which makes for wonderful reading when I look back at it,” he says. But not all bucket lists need to be documented online. In fact, simple handwritten journals and scrapbooks can be a perfect way to keep track of the items you’ve accomplished.
WRITTEN BY BLAKE MILLER