Everyone has goals and dreams for their future. Many refer to these aspirations as a “bucket list" since it goes way beyond your daily to-dos and includes ambitions for your entire life. While this may sound daunting, a bucket list can actually be good for one’s motivation and mental health.
“Creating a bucket list can be viewed as another way of setting life goals for yourself,” psychotherapist Karen Balumbu-Bennett, LCSW, PMH-C, tells TODAY.com. “Research shows that people who are intentional about writing down goals are more likely to reach them. A bucket list can help you stay goal-oriented and excited to engage in new adventures.”
Crossing things off your bucket list can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride, which Balumbu-Bennett says "ultimately helps build self-esteem and confidence."
And while there are certainly those big-ticket items that will come to mind when making a bucket list (think: visiting a faraway country or skydiving), your list should reflect you, not someone else’s wants.
If smaller goals feel right for your list, that’s perfectly fine, too. But Balumbu-Bennett suggests adding things to the list that are different, challenging and more exciting than those on your daily to-do list. “Remember, a bucket list is also a way for you to reward and celebrate yourself,” she says.
Keep in mind that you bucket list might change over time. "We evolve and so do our interests. Allow yourself the flexibility to add and delete from the list as you grow and evolve," she adds.
Ready to live out your dreams? These 50 bucket list ideas might spark some inspiration — and a bit of bravery, too.
Sleep under the stars
If you’ve never been camping before (we're talking in a tent or sleeping bag on the ground), give it a try. All those campfire s’mores and stars overhead may just lull you to sleep, and you can say you finally did it.
Visit your dream destination
France? Australia? Bali? When you close your eyes and envision your dream, bucket list-worthy destination, where is it? Once and for all, plan that trip and see those incredible sights.
Go back to school
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to earn a bachelor's or master’s degree, or go back for your GED. Apply, enroll and get learning!
Learn how to paint
Maybe you’ve painted along to a Bob Ross episode here and there, but why not take a painting class in real life? You could be as good as Picasso and not even know it.
Read 100 books in a year
Sure, this sounds daunting, but it'll inspire you to read a little bit (or a whole lot) every single day. And if 100 is way too many tomes, aim for 25 or 50 if you consider that to be a personal feat. (Psst, Streaking With Jenna may help you accomplish your goal!)
Jump out of a plane
Geronimo! Take the leap (literally) and sign up for skydiving. Many consider this to be the ultimate bucket list goal since it certainly requires guts.
Go on the most romantic date ever
What is your fantasy date? Do you envision a hot-air balloon ride with your partner? A sunset cruise? A stroll down a Parisian street? It’s time to make it happen!
Bake a cake from scratch
If you love to bake, but have never made a cake from scratch, now’s your chance. Go the extra mile and whip up your own frosting to make it that much more special.
Play a sport
You don't need to be athletic to join a community team or league. Sign up for baseball, tennis or even the oh-so-trendy pickleball, and you might even find new friends in your fellow teammates.
Have something published
Have you ever dreamed of seeing your name in print? Then make it a goal to have a poem, article, novel or even your personal biography published.
Try this if you’ve never been on a sailboat before — all that wind and sea air might have you hooked. Or, if you sail regularly, plan a sailing trip to the Caribbean or another far-flung place.
Find a cause that you’re passionate about and donate your time. The local animal shelter, food pantry or beach clean-up group could undoubtedly use an extra pair of hands, and you’re sure to feel like you’re making a difference.
Play an instrument
You may have played an instrument in school that you haven’t picked up in decades. Or perhaps you’ve never played anything and you’d like to start now. It’s never too late to learn how to play the guitar, flute or drums — take lessons or even head to YouTube for some tutorials.
Run a marathon
Maybe the only running you do is to catch a train or out to the mailbox and back. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran runner who’d like to set your sights on a new goal, consider signing up for a marathon — just be sure to check with your doctor first and find a good training plan. Not ready for 26.2 miles? A half-marathon or 10K is still an impressive accomplishment.
Dye your hair
Pink, purple or even a shade of blonde you’ve always admired. Book an appointment at your salon and make that hair color happen.
See your favorite band/singer
Are you constantly listening to the same band or singer over and over again? If they’re touring, grab those tickets! An amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits.
Visit all 50 states
This one may take a while, but you can aim for a life goal of visiting all 50 states. Go on a road trip and cover lots of states at the same time. Or visit each state one by one. Either way, keep track and make some unforgettable memories.
Create your dream home
Build the home of your dreams from the ground up. Buy an existing home that you’ve always admired. Or make your current home as "perfect" as it can possibly be by remodeling, redecorating or bringing in accents that create the feel and style you’re envisioning.
Make amends with someone
Did you have a falling out with someone years ago that you wish could be undone? Think about reaching out and trying to mend the relationship. If the person is unreachable or isn’t interested in restoring a relationship, make a new goal of moving on and finding an inner sense of peace about the situation.
Learn a foreign language
These days, there are so many apps and computer programs that make it a cinch to learn a language, and fast. Pick between French, Italian or another language you’ve always thought sounded beautiful, and perhaps even plan to visit the place to try out your new skill.
Take a dance class
Even if you have two left feet, be brave and take a dance class. Go solo if you’re feeling particularly bold, or ask your partner to join you to make it something you can cross off together.
Watch the sun rise
Maybe you’ve never been an early riser. There are few things as stunning as a sunrise, and if you’ve never really sat and watched the sun come up, add it to your bucket list.
Overcome a fear
Step outside your comfort zone and confront a fear you’ve been hanging onto for a while. Have a fear of the water? Face it by taking swimming lessons. Terrified of heights? Consider going to a high-up dream destination with a big payoff like the Eiffel Tower.
Keep in mind that facing a fear can at times be best dealt with through seeing a therapist, so if you’d like to start there, make regular therapy your first goal and then work on conquering the fear.
Visit a famous museum
Travel to a place where you can see matchless antiquities and pieces of history like King Tut’s sarcophagus at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo or the "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre.
Take a train
If you’ve ever enjoyed those old black-and-white movies where the characters travel by railroad, make a train trip happen in your own life. Go across the country or through an area with plenty of pretty scenery to view as you chug along.
See the northern lights
The farther north you go, the better your chances of seeing the aurora borealis, or the northern lights. Plan a trip to Iceland or Sweden where the northern lights come alive in all their multihued glory.
Go on a safari
Perhaps your dream is to see lions, elephants and zebras in their native habitat. For a truly wild experience, book an African safari and gaze at these amazing animals.
Move somewhere new
Is your hometown feeling a bit ho-hum these days? Consider taking the leap and moving somewhere you’ve always wanted to live. Maybe, just maybe, it's by the ocean or in the heart of the city. Either way, if it’s your dream, make it a reality.
Eat at an expensive restaurant
Ask your partner, best friend or another loved one to accompany you to the most expensive restaurant in town, the one with the Michelin stars and mouthwatering food you’ll never forget.
Hike a substantial trail
You could make like Cheryl Strayed and hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail if you’re up to the task. Or keep it local and head to a challenging trail in your area like a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Throw a fancy dinner party
Have you ever envisioned your closest friends all gathered at your house and wearing their swankiest duds? Then it sounds like you should add a fancy dinner party to your bucket list. It’s time to send out those invites — in the mail on real paper, of course.
Take a cruise
Maybe you grew up watching "The Love Boat" or your friends told you about an incredible cruise they recently took. Now it's your turn to take to the high seas with your partner, friends or family.
Learn how to make a family recipe
Do you find yourself daydreaming about your grandmother’s famous apple pie? Or wanting to know how to make your mother’s “secret recipe” lasagna? Whether you ask a family member or track it down in an old family cookbook, it’s time to fire up the oven and make that treasured recipe.
Sing in public
If you don’t consider yourself to be vocalist of any kind, the idea of singing in public might seem downright impossible to pull off. But consider it to be an opportunity for a rush of adrenaline. Who knows, you just impress everyone with your talents.
Go scuba diving
Colorful coral reefs, schools of tropical fish and dolphins dancing in the waves — if this scene sounds like a fantasy come to life, plan a trip and go scuba diving.
Toss a pizza in the air
It’s harder than it sounds! And certainly warrants an entire goal on your bucket list. Make like an Italian chef who tosses pizzas in the air with ease.
Get your license or certification in something
What's something you've always wanted to be better at? No matter what your goal is, make it a reality and enroll in the classes or program.
Get a tattoo
At this point in your life, you might think the ship has sailed — but not so fast. More and more people of all ages are getting tattoos, which means you should finally get that meaningful or inspiring tattoo you’ve always wanted.
Go on a road trip
Don’t just watch movies about people taking epic road trips. Grab your keys and do it yourself, whether it's cross-country to just to the next state over.
In modern times, repairing things is a lost art since many of us head online the instant something breaks. Instead, see if you can repair an item yourself, whether it means pulling out the tool kit to repair the air conditioning in your cart or sewing up a pair of torn pants. This is where YouTube and Google come in handy, or ask someone you know to teach you.
Finish a triathlon
Swimming, biking, running — yes, you really can do all three things in a single event, and push your body to do things you didn’t know it could do.
Face your stage fright
One 2013 study reports that a whopping 77% of people have glossophobia, otherwise known as a fear of public speaking. So, it’s a good one to add to your bucket list if it’s something you struggle with.
Turn it into a positive learning experience and reward yourself in the process. Practice with friends and family members, and remember that working through it in therapy is an option as well.
Meditation is a surefire way to combat stress and feel at peace. Simply make it a goal to quiet your thoughts as much as you can and stick with it most days. You'll feel better for it.
If you’ve never traveled alone before, now’s the time, especially if you need to clear your head and cross a particular place off your bucket list. Plan a trip to a dream destination, do your homework ahead of time and take any necessary safety precautions along the way so you’ll feel comfortable.
Look through a telescope
Whether it’s a telescope at home or viewing the heavens through a lens at a world-class observatory, getting an up-close look at the stars and planets should definitely make your bucket list.
Make a gourmet meal
Just because you aren't Julia Child doesn't mean you can't whip up something restaurant-worthy. Research some recipes or take a cooking class to learn from the pros. The best part? You'll get to eat some delicious food along the way.
Visit a national park
Visit at least one national park in your lifetime, whether it's the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Smoky Mountains. Or make it a bigger goal to visit most or all of them to connect with nature in ways you never thought possible.
Befriend a neighbor
If you feel as if you don’t really know anyone in your neighborhood, go out of your way and start showing some kindness to those who live around you. A blossoming friendship with a new pal just down the street can help fulfill this goal.
Swim in the ocean
Instead of lounging on the shore, go out there and swim in the sea. Feel the rush of the waves, admire the water’s blue hue and experience an unbeatable feeling of freedom.
See a solar eclipse
This one may take some planning. The next total solar eclipse takes place in the United States on April 8, 2024, so you'll have to wait awhile to experience it. But you can always travel to Australia and Papua New Guinea, where it'll be visible in 2023.