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We all have things we want to accomplish before we die, but with all the demands in life, it’s hard to find the time (and resources) to do them all. But in many ways, it’s important to have a bucket list because it’s so hard to find the time. Rather than spend our days on things we aren’t passionate about, a bucket list can help us focus in on the things that matter. Today, let’s talk about why bucket lists are important and how you can put achievable goals on your list!

pen with red notebook with the words bucket list in the upper left corner

Quick note before we begin: think of a bucket list and a wish list as two different things. A bucket list should be filled with dreams but dreams you can actively work toward achieving. A wish list can include all the other fantastical and amazing things that would be incredible, but you don’t want to put specific effort into accomplishing.

Why Should I Create a Bucket List?

As you consider what to put on your list, here are several reasons why a bucket list can be helpful:

1. A bucket list can provide purpose

Having hopes, dreams, and goals can give you purpose, focus, and direction in your life. By choosing to pursue a particular gift, talent, or dream, you can make choices that push you ever closer to accomplishing things you didn’t think possible.

2. A bucket list can ignite your creativity

When you’re focused on accomplishing something, you come up with all kinds of ways to make it happen. Whether it means taking classes, learning a new painting technique, or improving your rock climbing strength, you can push your creativity (and your inspiration) to new heights.

Mature couple sitting in their car out on a picturesque highway, fulfilling a bucket list item

3. A bucket list can create meaningful memories

No matter how long it takes you to accomplish each item on your bucket list, you’re going to make memories along the way. You will learn and grow, becoming a different and better person through the process.

4. A bucket list can help you enjoy life

Have you ever noticed that when you’re working toward a goal or finishing a project, it makes you happy? A bucket list can do the same! If you really embrace the practice, it can give you an added zest for life as you work toward achieving your dreams!

If you’ve decided that you definitely want to write out your very own bucket list, it’s important to make sure that your goals are achievable. But how do you do that? Let’s talk about it.

Young woman in navy blue shirt making a heart with her hands

How Do I Set Achievable Goals?

The first step is to write down the things you’d like to add to your bucket list. Then, for each entry, you will need to set sub-goals. These sub-goals will help you accomplish each bucket list item. But how can you be smart about setting these goals? Use the S.M.A.R.T. method!

The S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting concept originated in 1981, and because it’s so effective, it’s still a much-used practice today. Basically, any goals you set (i.e., any items on your bucket list) should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.).

Let’s say that one of your goals is to visit Washington, D.C. someday. Using that example, let’s talk through each section of the S.M.A.R.T. goal method.

Three friends celebrating as they summit a mountain after a hike together


When you write an entry on your bucket list, don’t be vague. For example, a vague goal would say, “I want to see museums in Washington, D.C.” A specific goal would be “I want to see the Hope Diamond at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.” When you add specificity, you make the goal easier to track and measure, which keeps you accountable and helps you achieve.


When you add a goal to your bucket list, you should be able to track your progress. You’re going to need to pay for that Washington, D.C. trip. Rather than put “Pay for Washington, D.C.” on your list, say “Save $7,000 for my once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington, D.C.” Now, you can better measure how close you are to actually achieving your goal of visiting the city.

Young man learning to paint, fulfilling a bucket list item


When you set a goal, it should be something that’s possible for you to accomplish with your own tools and resources. For example, when you’re in Washington, D.C., you might want to say, “Talk to the President of the United States.” But how likely is that to happen? Do you have the right resources or know the right people to make that happen? If you do, put it on the list! If you don’t, move on to something more achievable.


Your goals should be relevant to your overall objective. In this example, your overall objective is to visit Washington, D.C. A non-relevant goal would be “Try out a new haircut.” While you may want to sport that new haircut while you’re in D.C., it’s not relevant to actually getting there and achieving your bucket list item.


Lastly, it’s useful to have a timeframe. If you just say, “I want to visit Washington, D.C. in my lifetime,” it may never happen. However, if you decide that you want to see cherry blossom season at the National Mall, you can say, “I will visit Washington, D.C., in April two years from now.” Then, you can start planning and saving with a deadline in mind.

Blonde woman wearing hat as she enjoys cherry blossom trees

Pro Tip: Don’t try to do everything at once.

Depending on what’s on your bucket list, you may only work on a handful of goals at a time. For example, it’s hard to save for a trip to Washington, D.C., while also saving for a trip to Italy. But, you could be saving toward a trip to Washington, D.C., while also teaching yourself to knit, learning how to polka, or trying out pink highlights in your hair.

Often, we think of a bucket list as consisting of things that are almost unachievable. But today, we’re challenging that mindset! Choose the things that matter to you and work toward achieving them with smart goals and intentional steps. A beautiful, meaningful, and purposeful life doesn’t come with a specific blueprint – you have to figure out what yours looks like, and it will be unique to you!

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