Last week, I published my personal 40 before 40 list. (Yeah, I let it all hang out and you can feel free to hold me accountable.) This week, I’m offering some suggestions in case you’d like to make your own “before” or bucket list.
But first, let’s discuss what a “before” or bucket list is and why you might want one: A “before” list is a collection of goals you’d like to achieve before a certain age and a bucket list is your lifetime to-do list (aka before you “kick the bucket.”)
As to why you might want one, I can think of a couple of reasons: 1) It encourages you to take note of your goals, ensuring they remain a priority, and 2) It gives you something to look forward to, to plan and to anticipate, which makes life more fun. Did you know that researchers found planning a vacation (not actually going on one) can boost happiness for up to 8 weeks? It thus makes sense that the simple act of looking forward to something would work similarly.
Not everyone is a fan of bucket lists, however. If you need a reason (or seven) NOT to make one, here ya go.
For those of you still on board the bucket list train, let’s get started. Here are some areas to consider in your planning:
The Big Stuff: Love, Life & Family
What life milestones do you want to accomplish? Do you want to get married? Become a parent? Own your own home? These are some obvious go-tos for your list. While I’d never written it down, one of my secret life goals was to be married before 30. Luckily, I got that one taken care of before the stress of an impending deadline and, in hindsight, I don’t think putting an age deadline on these big life items is a great idea but, if you’re working on a bucket list, add away.
Do you have any physical challenges you’d like to surmount? For example, do you want to bike cross country, hike a mountain, enter an endurance race, or become an American Warrior Ninja like Kacy Catanzaro? You could also look to smaller (and possibly more challenging feats) like starting a daily yoga practice, achieving and maintaining your ideal weight, or learning to love the skin you’re in, in this category. Here are some I considered:
- Complete a color run
- Do a Tough Mudder to support the Wounded Warrior Project
- Finish a triathlon
- Hike Kilimanjaro
Money & Career
I could have put money and career in the first “big stuff” category but—and this is where my personal bias comes in—I don’t consider money or career to be as important as life, love, and family. So, let’s discuss financial matters. What career or money milestones do you have for your life? Here are a few ideas:
- Contribute $100K to your retirement account
- Earn $75K per year
- Start a business
- Get a promotion
- Save or invest 10% of your income each year
“Once you stop learning, you start dying,” Albert Einstein said.
By all means, keep the grim reaper at bay through continued learning for your bucket list. Perhaps you’d like to go back to school to reach or adjust some of your career or financial goals. You could also study a foreign language, take a cooking class, or learn to fly a plane as my hubby did. Isn’t he cute in this week’s inspiration photo?
What do you want to know before your reach your next age milestone?
What’s the most exciting thing you can think of?
This category could have been included under “Get Physical,” but I wanted to acknowledge that sometimes you can have a lot of fun and test your limits without tons of advance training. Here’s your opportunity to go do something crazy: Skydive. Whitewater raft. Cliff dive. Abseil. Drive a race car. Be a fighter pilot for a day. Zip line. Parasail. If money’s a concern, hike up a nearby volcano or stand at the edge of a (safe!) cliff and enjoy the sun and breeze as it buffets you.
It’s easy to fill your list with travel ideas, but as the Huff Post article noted, doing so can challenge your enjoyment of each experience. So keep it simple and let your bucket list serve as inspiration rather than a source of stress.
What are your major travel wishes? Is there anywhere you’ve always wanted to go? A type of animal you want to see in the wild? A milestone you want to achieve? Here are a few of mine for inspiration:
- Visit every continent
- See the Northern Lights
- See African elephants in the wild
- Cruise the Mediterranean
Close to Home
Before you get the idea that everything on your “before” or bucket list needs to be a grand adventure, think about things you can do close to home. You could, for example:
- Play tourist in your own city
- Wear a color you’ve never worn
- Write a manifesto – or a novel – or a poem
- Fly a kite
- Host a picnic
- Throw yourself an amazing birthday party
- Create a regular habit – hike, bike, walk, run, meditate, sing, dance, play an instrument
And while you’re enjoying being near home, enjoy some food fun too. Perhaps you’d like to:
- Try a new restaurant or cuisine
- Get a food sensitivities or allergy test and change your habits
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Try an exotic wine or beer
- Make and then eat a dream dessert
And last but certainly not least, as you’re writing your “before” or bucket list, don’t forget your caring and compassion for your fellow beings. As we say at Child Advocates, when you spend time volunteering with a foster youth, you change two lives. Why not:
- Donate 10% of your salary to a worthy cause
- Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen
- Make a year-long-plus volunteer commitment
- Establish a foundation
- Mentor someone
- Volunteer abroad
- Sign a petition or, even better, start one
I hope this list was helpful in putting together some ideas for your own “before” or bucket list. If you need some more suggestions, check out the following:
- Become Better Bucket List
- Personal Excellence Bucket List
- Achievable Bucket List – when a lot of expense or travel isn’t possible
- 111 Ideas for Your Bucket List – Abundance Tapestry
- 1002 Things Before I Kick the Bucket
- 48 Inspiring Bucket Lists
And, before you go, let me know one item you’re going to put on your own list.