The Louvre, Paris. Bucket List. Life Plan.

How to Create a Life Plan: Start with a Bucket List

You know what they say, Life is short. So, why not create a plan for your life that ensures you get the most out of it? If you are someone that wants to have an epic life and/or get the most out of the time you have left on earth, here’s a tip that has completely changed the experiences and accomplishments I’ve been able to have. It involves brainstorming, dreaming, and a bucket (metaphorically speaking). Let’s get started, shall we? Time’s a wastin.

It All Starts with a Bucket List

What is a bucket list, you ask?

A bucket list is a list of experiences or accomplishments that a person wants to achieve before they die or “kick the bucket.” It typically includes things that the person may have always wanted to do but never had the opportunity, as well as new and exciting experiences that they want to have before their time on earth is up.

Creating a bucket list can help you shape your life experiences by giving you a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and experience. It can help you focus on your goals and prioritize the things that are most important to you. By setting specific goals and creating a plan to achieve them, you can work towards your dreams and make them a reality. And isn’t that what a life plan is all about?

In addition, a bucket list can help you step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. It can inspire you to take risks and seize opportunities that you may not have considered before. By pushing yourself to try new things and pursue your passions, you can expand your horizons and create a more fulfilling life.

Ultimately, a bucket list is a powerful tool for shaping your life experiences because it encourages you to live with intention and purpose. By creating a clear vision of what you want to achieve and working towards those goals, you can create a life that is rich, meaningful, and full of adventure.

People often think of a 60-year-old sitting down at retirement and creating a bucket list. Or the person diagnosed with a terminal illness.

And while it’s perfectly appropriate to create a bucket list in both of those instances, think of how much more you could shape your life if you created it sooner. As I said, I created mine shortly after having my first child.

Sometimes it’s difficult to think about a bucket list when you are struggling to buy groceries or pay the rent. But honestly, that’s the best time to create it! Allowing yourself to dream is the first step to moving beyond your current circumstances. Before you know it, you’ll have this list and then every year, you’ll pick an item and just start taking the steps to move closer to it.

How to Create a Bucket List

You can do this any way you like but I found the following approach to be both challenging and exciting.

  1. Start by creating categories for your life. An example of some categories might be Financial, Fun, Professional, Family, Home, Friends, Learning, Adventures, Travel . . .you get the idea. Create categories that mean something to you. Don’t worry, you can always add categories later or take categories away.
  2. Set a timer and give yourself one minute to write down as many bucket list items or goals as you can for one category. Don’t hold back and don’t think about how you currently can’t afford it. There are no limitations in this exercise. Related: Video: How to Facilitate a Brainstorming Session.
  3. Do this for every category. You might need a few days. I found this to be an exhausting exercise because it requires so much out-of-the-box thinking.
  4. Repeat this process until you have 100 items on your list. I know that sounds like a lot. You are currently being held back by your limiting experiences and beliefs. Dream bigger. You have no idea what you’re capable of.
  5. You might even get a notebook just for this exercise as it could take months. Check out our notebooks here.

After completing this exercise, I used an Excel spreadsheet to then take all those items and reword them into a more descriptive statement. You can use a notebook. I just found it easier to modify being electronic. You can keep the categories on your spreadsheet and that will help you to know how much focus you are putting into each area of your life. Balance is a good thing.

An Example of a Bucket List/Life Plan

As an example, I’ll explain how mine worked. When I created my list, we were barely making ends meet. I was literally donating plasma once or twice a week to earn money for groceries. Thinking big was hard but not impossible. Here are a few of the items I put on my list. You’ll see some were really basic based on my limited thinking and then you can start to see a difference when I was able to dream a little bigger.

  • Have enough money to not live paycheck to paycheck
  • Have 3 months of living expenses in a Savings account
  • Have a home computer (it was the 90s)
  • Get a passport
  • Complete a 100-mile bicycle ride (BTW, it’s been 15 years since this was added to the list and I’m just now doing it. Read about that here.)
  • Go to Paris
  • Visit The Louvre
  • Go to Hawaii
  • Have an annual salary of X (I actually had several versions of this goal as it changed over the years)
  • Pay for the kids’ college

Every few years I’d do this exercise again and it changed drastically. As I was able to accomplish items on the list, I became more confident, and my dreams became bigger, and a bit more audacious.

The bucket list became the beginning of a life plan. And that life plan changed over time. Even this year, my life plan looks different than I thought it would 20 years ago.

At the beginning of each year, I review this list, highlight in green those items that were completed, create new items, and decide what to focus on for the year. Honestly, I still review this list several times a year.

At 58, I can tell you that most of my life accomplishments happened because of this list. It kept me focused year after year. It’s so easy to just exist each day and stick to a daily routine of monotony. This list helped me to live larger and I can’t begin to tell you how fulfilling it is to see all the green highlighted rows on my Excel spreadsheet.

Try it out and be prepared to live an epic life.

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