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How To Make A New Year's Bucket List

Get The Most Out Of Each Year With A New Year's Bucket List

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Updated January 01, 2013

How To Make A New Year's Bucket List

The world is your oyster--what's on your bucket list?

Photo from iStockPhoto.com
There are many benefits that come with a bucket list, and reasons you may want to make one. Simple creating a bucket list is an activity that can help you to focus on your priorities, your goals, and your dreams. It can also help you to infuse a little extra fun into your year--every year--if this is important to you. (If it's not, you may want to read about the benefits of having more fun.)

This can relieve stress for you in a few different ways. First, having more fun in life can help you to stave off burnout, and can add some needed levity to a stress-filled existence. This can energize you and help you to feel more excited about your daily life. Second, setting and meeting goals can help you to live a more purposeful existence, and get more of what you really want out of life. Finally, if some of your bucket list items are stress relievers in themselves (such as taking a vacation to a particular location, or learning a new skill), there's no limit to the stress you can relieve and the transformation you can experience in one year. And a major bonus to having a new year bucket list vs. the traditional bucket list that spans a lifetime? It's harder to procrastinate when you have only a year to work with. You don't have the illusion of having decades to work with.

The following tips can help you to create a New Year's bucket list that's just right for you--one that you can get excited about:

Start Your List

The first part of maintaining a bucket list, not surprisingly, is to decide how to maintain the list. It can be something you keep on paper in a journal, maintain digitally on your computer, or even keep as a running list on your smartphone. It helps to keep the list in a place that is easily accessible--somewhere where you won't forget it, and where you can easily add to it. (You may have a set bucket list for each year, but it helps to have a running list of ideas for the next few years.) Once you've decided how to maintain the list, you can start brainstorming ideas.

Think About Your Goals

Most of us have goals that are already on our minds, which we actively work toward (or beat ourselves up for not working hard enough to reach). Some of us have goals that are in the backs of our minds, tucked away for "someday," or "when things slow down," which may be more fleeting in our minds. We even have the forgotten goals--new year's resolutions from last year or the year before, plans we tried briefly and abandoned, ideas we had and decided we couldn't achieve. Write down all the goals you may have abandoned in the past, but would still like to reach. (With a new plan, you have great odds of being successful.) Be sure to write down any new goals you may have started thinking about as well. Imagine what you would like to become in the next year (or several) and write it down.

Think About Your Childhood

When you were a child, were there any things you always thought you'd do when you grew up? (For me, it was skydiving and going to comedy clubs, among other things.) These items can include things that require courage, things that are just for fun, or things that you'd always hoped to be able to do someday. Think back, and if there's anything you'd always hoped to do that you'd still like to do, add it to the list. For now, don't think about whether or not this is something you can realistically get done this year--just write it down for fun, and decide later.

Think About What You Need

We all have wants and needs,and sometimes the same things fit under both categories. Are you feeling fulfilled in your life? In your relationships? Are you missing something important in your existence? Think about what you need--healthier relationships, a more balanced budget, a healthier body, a better place to live, etc.--and decide how you may go about getting it this year. If your goals send you on a path in the right direction, you're better off than if you left your life unexamined. You may not get everything tackled in one year, but keeping these things in mind can get you closer to your goals.

Think About What's Missing

Is there anything you just wish you were doing regularly? Revisiting an interest in expressing yourself artistically, for example, or getting more adventure in your life? Bucket lists are made for these types of activities, and a new year's bucket list simply helps you to ensure that you get some of these types of activities in your life this year. You may not sculpt a masterpiece or visit the Louvre this year (or then again, you may), but you could join an art class, visit all the local museums in your area, or take a trip to somewhere affordable that you've always wanted to visit. Put it all on the list, and then some. Really look at your dreams.

Think About What's Realistic

You may have been wondering how you could be expected to experience--in the space of a year--all the items you've been asked to include on this list. Don't worry, if you've been including everything that's been suggested, it would hopefully be impossible to experience it all in a year and still have time to maintain your regular responsibilities. Now you get to choose. Look at all the items and select a few favorites, a few things that you really don't want to put off any longer, and a few things that would palpably improve your life. Really think about if it is realistic to get these things done in the course of a year; if it could easily be done, you might want to add just one more thing, and if it's a little bit of a stretch but not impossible, you're on the right track. The idea is to do a little more than you would normally do, and make it count!

Keep Your List For Next Year--And The Year After

Hold on to the remaining list items, and use them for future bucket lists! This is your master list--you can add to it all year when you become inspired to try something new, but you're not ready to do it just then. This master list serves the function of a traditional bucket list, and can help you to keep track of everything you want to experience and accomplish in life. Have fun with it!

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