Creating a bucket list changed my life.
Creating a bucket list made me more aware of the ‘why' behind my work.
Like most people, I'm aware of the things I want to do in life. I know the places I want to visit. What I want to accomplish. However, in the past, I didn't know how these wants and desires fit into the context of my day to day life.
Personally, this resulted in me becoming a bit of a workaholic. By workaholic, I mean not realizing the great experiences and moments happening right under my nose. Giving priority to, well, work. Thinking that my work itself was my ultimate passion in life.
For example, while in Sri Lanka, I found myself focused on working when I wasn't out doing something. I had an invisible sense of urgency or guilt for not working on my business.
While the work is essential to fund your basic living expenses. Eventually, I gained better understand the minimum tasks required from me every week to keep my business running. This way, I didn't catch myself doing busy work. So I could mentally focus on what mattered most.
Which is when I learned about the concept of a bucket list.
Table of Contents
What is a Bucket List?
Put simply, a bucket list is a list of things to do before you die.
More specifically, a bucket list is a collection of experiences. Not so much a list of things you would like to own.
That’s all there is to it.
Subconsciously, I've always had a bucket list. Most of us do.
But it wasn't until I sat down and wrote out my bucket list that I started to feel better. I became more focused and less stressed out. My business moved down from the top of my bucket list as I have gotten it to a good level.
Your bucket list makes you understand the apex experiences to benchmark your life. These benchmarks are also known more simply known as bucket list items.
I first started taking bucket lists seriously when I was watching a documentary called Kadomo. About an unfortunate crocodile attack on a kayaker exploring a river system in the Congo. While researching the film I learned about adventurer John Goddard and his life list.
Immediately after learning about Goddard's life list, I began writing my bucket list.
Why you should have a bucket list?
While having a bucket list may seem extravagant or daydreamy. Or even impossible. The act of sitting down and writing one will make you see your life more clearly.
Seriously, how many people take the time to write out what they would like to accomplish in life before they die?
So many people get stuck on a path of pursuing life goals without ever questioning why. Getting a 9-5 job, and buying a house.
It's hard to go to a job or buy a house when you aren't sure what it's all for. It's nice to have a job when you know its to fund an experience you'll cherish for the rest of your life.
Also, buying a house is the largest purchase people tend to make without ever doing the math. Essentially, buying a house is a decision full of hidden expenses virtually no one sits down to calculate. Don’t let society pressure you into buying a house if you don’t want it.
A key item on my bucket list was to create a location independent business around my drawings. I knew I had to accomplish this if I were to check off the rest of my bucket list.
The last thing I wanted to do was have a normal 9-5 job with two weeks a year allotted for vacation. Or even worse, wait until I retired to travel.
My bucket list is based around travel.
Your bucket list will likely be different.
The bottom line is, don't let society determine your bucket list.
How to create your own bucket list
We all have things we say we would love to do. But actually taking the time to write your bucket list is the first step. The first step to pushing you closer to fill your life with experiences you choose to have.
Want to learn how to create a bucket list for yourself?
- Start writing a reverse bucket list
A reverse bucket list is where you create a list of things you’ve already done. The power in this is to help you see you’ve done more than you realize. It’s a great way to be aware of and thankful for your past experiences. Taking the focus off things you haven't done yet so you can build momentum towards the things you've yet to do. Besides, it feels great to look back and realize you've experienced great things.
- Write your regular bucket list
Once you've written all the items in your reverse bucket list add to it. Add to it by writing anything and everything you would like to accomplish. Your list can be as big or as small as you want. But don't hold back. If you have the slightest interest in something, just put it on the list. Don't talk yourself out of it.
Tips for accomplishing your bucket list
- Be specific
Ultimately, create a bucket list full of really specific items. Rather than, “travel more”. Write, “Go on a cruise down the Nile river”. The key is to make each item specific and actionable. This way you can create an actionable plan to accomplish each item on your bucket list.
- Interlink and piggyback your bucket list items
For example, my bucket list item of taking 500 amazing photos of wildlife, tropic, and surf subjects, drawing 3,000+ animals, and publishing 5 collections of fiction short stories are things related to the travel items on my bucket list. Also linking into my business which funds everything. Interlinking and piggybacking items on your bucket list help you accomplish more, faster.
- Make your bucket list public
Also, making your intentions public will push you to follow through with it. Publish it on your blog. Tell the people close to you about it. Make it known so you have a form of public accountability. be warned, you'll experience naysayers. Unfortunately, they'll most likely be family and friends. Part of having a bucket list is embracing it fully. Which may require dealing with negativity. Just know, you'll feel better checking items off on your bucket list and seeing their reactions afterward.
My Bucket List
My bucket list pretty much stays the same. However, if I read about or learn about something that sparks my interest I never hesitate to add it to the list.
I hope this inspires you to pursue your own adventures.
Get lost in the medina in Marrakesh, Morocco
- Hike the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania
- Explore Zanzibar, Tanzania
- See the big five in the wild
- See leopards in the wild
Stay in an authentic riad in Morocco
- See mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, Congo
- Eat Ethiopian food in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Go to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa
- Explore Madagascar
- Picnic at Great Ocean Road in Victoria
- See Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory
- Explore Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia
- Hang out in Sydney
- Hike Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk in Queensland
- Visit Flinders Ranges in South Australia
- Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, off the Queensland Coast
- See the sunset on Uluru at the Red Centre in the Northern Territory
- See Uluru in Australia
- Hike Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park in Tasmania
- Hike Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania
Road trip the Pacific side of Costa Rica
- Scuba dive and hike Cocos Island in Costa Rica
- Visit the Carribean side of Costa Rica
See macaws flying in the wild in Costa Rica
- Surf in Nosara, Costa Rica
- Surf in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
- Walk the Causeway Coast and Glens in Ireland
- Hike the Scottish Highlands
- Drink scotch at the Lagavulin distillery in Scotland
Visit Ericeira in Portugal Eat everything in Madrid, Spain See all the murder sites of Jack the Ripper in London Get lost in the alleys of Venice, Italy Play soccer with orphans in Switzerland
Photograph tigers in the wild at in Ranthambore National Park
- Surf Varkala in south India
- Visit the Maldives
Meet my wife's extended family in Chennai, India
- Explore the backwaters and eat everything in Kerala
Eat homemade food in India Visit Jodhpur Visit Jaipur
Release baby sea turtles into the ocean in Sayulita Surf in Sayulita, Riviera Nayarit Hike to a waterfall in Yelapa
- See wild jaguars in Quintana Roo
- Swim in a cenote in Quintana Roo
Visit the San Juan Teotihuacán archeological complex Explore Mexico City with friends
- Road trip the North and South islands of New Zealand
- Visit the Cook Islands
- Hike through the Amazon rainforest in Peru.
- Visit a fruit market in the Peruvian Amazon.
Explore the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia Visit Maya Bay and surrounding islands in Thailand where they filmed, The Beach
- Surf in Siargao Island, Philippines
See and eat all of Singapore
- See Orangutans in the wild in Borneo
See wild elephants in Sri Lanka Explore Ritigala mountain in Sri Lanka Eat homemade food in Sri Lanka Climb Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka
Surf in San Onofre, California
- Explore North, East, and South coasts of Kaua'i
- Hike in Waimea Canyon in Kaua'i
Surf in Leucadia, California
- Visit New York City
Hike through forests in Humboldt, California Live in San Diego, California Surf in La Jolla, California See glaciers in Alaska
- Become SCUBA certified
- Be an animal's best friend
- Get certified in freediving
Become proficient at stand up paddleboarding Learn Aikido Studied boxing Get motorcycle license
- Be a dad as great as my dad
Direct a short film Earn a BFA in Character Animation from the Disney founded college, CalArts Run a successful animation business Run a successful business around my drawings
- Publish 5 collections of fiction short stories
- Take 500 amazing wildlife, tropical, and surf photographs
Worked as a professional close-up magician
- Create 3,000+ drawings of animals
- Develop a niche website without personal branding getting 50,000+ monthly visitors
- Write 200,000 words a year
- Eat and cook entirely plant-based
- Run at least 6 miles a week
- Always be able to do three sets of 15 without getting winded (push-ups, pull-ups, dips, lunges)
- Hiked through knee-deep crocodile-infested water in Mexico
- Walked through a herd of elk on the beach at dusk in Humboldt, California
- Broke my ankle and had to be carried up a cliff
- Almost drowned in the ocean
- Been in a fistfight
- Been in a school shooting
- Swam with wild dolphins in San Diego, California
I write a weekly newsletter called Sketchbook Dispatches where I share my recent sketches and insights on entrepreneurship for creatives with 13K subscribers every Sunday –