The Short-Term Bucket List Challenge

The Short-Term Bucket List Challenge - Make yourself accountable for actually completing the things on your bucket list! thebeautywithout.comI’ve committed myself to a new goal: Experience 30 new things before I turn 30 at the end of November 2016.  I call this the Short-Term Bucket List Challenge.  Three new experiences per month seems do-able and I like the catchiness of “30 Before 30”.  As it turns out, this isn’t a new concept, plenty of others before me have set similar personal challenges.  This is the first step to finding out more about myself:  What do I like to do, what excites me or scares me, what types of experiences help me push my boundaries and help me grow?  By setting a hard goal and pushing myself to rapidly expand my horizons I’m hoping to stumble upon one or two (or more!) experiences that delight and inspire me.  Check out my progress below:

Experiences #1 – #5: Helicopter tour, zoomline, escape room, hiking and a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Experiences #6 – #10:  Sleeping in a treehouse, snowshoeing, paint night, volunteering and political action.

If you’re like me and you’re so out of touch with yourself that you’re not even sure what you like to do anymore, this might be the right kind of challenge for you.  You can also challenge yourself to do more of the things you know your love.  Your challenge doesn’t have to look like mine, it could focus on specific places you want to travel, a certain number of volunteer events you want to participate in, a certain number of hikes you want to do in a certain amount of time.

Make Your Own Short-Term Bucket List

Whatever your goal may be, the Short-Term Bucket List Challenge is a great way to make yourself accountable and focused on your goal:

1: Make a Reverse Bucket List

I first read about this over at  The idea is to make a list of everything you’ve already done. For me, the list of experiences was longer than I expected and gave me a moment to pause and consider the things I’ve already done and be grateful for those opportunities.  It also gave me a chance to think about the types of experiences I enjoyed and the ones I would be happy to never repeat again.

For every item you write down, make note of what you liked or didn’t like about that experience.  If your list seems short, move on to step 2 and as you come across ideas for new experiences, you might see experiences that you can add to your reverse bucket list.

2:  Write Out Your Bucket List

If you’re making a “new experiences list” like I did, there are several categories of experiences to choose from: physical/athletic (run a marathon, learn to pole vault), outdoor/nature (take a hike, go sailing), artistic (take a painting class, learn to make jewelry), Health (yoga class, nutritional seminar), volunteer (build a house, serve food at a soup kitchen).  Not all experiences fit neatly into a category but the categories are a good place to start.  If you’re stuck on what to add to your list, try a few of these:

  • Search for Bucket Lists I used Pinterest and Bing to search for “bucket list”.  You can check out my 30 Before 30 Pinterest board to get you started.
  • Check TripAdvisor, LivingSocial, Groupon or Verlocal for local ideas. This is where I got the idea to add escape rooms and archery lessons to my list.
  • Ask your friends and family. After I made my initial list I asked friends for ideas.  Some of the suggestions were things I would never have thought of (acupuncture, watching a meteor shower).  Often times people will offer you advice about certain activities or may even invite you to join them for something they love to do.  Our neighbors love to sail (they are actually planning to sell their house and take off to sail around the world for 3-5 years!) and they offered to take us for a day of sailing in the next few months.
  • Search on  You can experience something new and contribute to the wellbeing of others at the same time.

If your challenge is concentrated on a specific type of experience you can research much in the same way: refer to Pinterest, search engines and friends and family to help build your list.

3:   Refine the List

Add two ratings to each item on your list:

  1. Your level of interest in the activity and
  2. The feasibility/affordability of the activity.

Research each item on your list and find out whether or not there will be a cost and what the average cost might be. Look into whether you can take a class for free, get a deal through Groupon, or ask friends if they know someone who participates in that activity and might be willing to introduce you.

Make a note of the season that is appropriate for each activity and whether it will require you to travel outside your city or state.  For my experience list, I restricted the activities to be mostly local or at least independent of specific locations. For instance, scuba diving in the great barrier reef would be an incredible experience, but it’s not something I can commit to in the next 10 months.  This would be a better addition for a longer-term bucket list or Life List.

4:  Make a Plan

After you’ve narrowed down your list, start making a calendar.  If there are time-bound activities, add those to the calendar first. One of the experiences on my list is participating in the political caucus for my state at a specific date and time, so it went onto the calendar first.

Try to group experiences that could happen in a short time frame.  My family and I spend 1-2 weeks at Lake Chelan every year, so I scanned my list for activities that might be available there and I grouped them together.

If you have an upcoming business trip or vacation, research the city you’re headed to and try to make a point of squeezing in 1-2 experiences while you’re there.  There’s something about having a new experience combined with being in a new city that just adds to the excitement.  Also, some activities might be more affordable or more weather-permitting in other locations.

5:   Make Yourself Accountable

Find ways to make yourself accountable to stick to your goal.  Announce your goal to your friends and family, it makes for an interesting conversation starter and you will find some friends and family will check in with you on your progress. You can take it a step further and chronicle your adventures on social media.  Create a custom hashtag and post a new picture or tweet each time you complete a new experience.  You should make a habit to take a picture to represent each experience but don’t go overboard – too many selfies interferes with your ability to truly immerse yourself in the experience.  At the end of your journey you can compile a collage to represent your accomplishments, one picture for each new experience.

Share in the comments:  What’s on your short-term bucket list?

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