How to Create a Bucket List in 10 Easy Steps

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 04/07/23 •  14 min read

It was 2 am on Saturday morning.

Most of my friends were grabbing their final drink of the evening at the bars in Portland.

But my friend Brian and I were 3 hours away — just waking up at a cabin on the McKenzie River.

It would be about a 90-minute drive to get to the base of the South Sister – the third tallest peak in Oregon. This represented a big shift in my life.


It would be one of the first things I crossed off the bucket list I’d formed a few months prior and would set the stage for a life adventure and action rather than passive rule-following.

The ascent was more difficult than I expected but still relatively tame as far as mountain climbing goes.

I can still vividly remember climbing the final few steps up to the point of a craggy rock that represented the actual summit.

On Top of a Mountain

I would never have climbed that mountain that day were it not for creating my bucket list and this blog.

Over a decade later, I’ve crossed off more than 30 items on that initial list of 100, have added dozens more to the list, and have even created sub-bucket lists, like my quest to play the top 100 golf courses in the world, or to visit the top 100 bars in the world (I’m about halfway there).

And it all started by doing one thing.

Hitting publish.

How Has the Last Year Gone for You?

How many things did you say you were going to do this past year that you simply didn’t get to, pushed to the side, or just plain forgot about?

If you’re like 99% of the population — probably more than you’d like to admit.

In March 2009, I created my bucket list.


To hold myself accountable for all of that stuff I’d always said I wanted to do but never made the effort to pursue.

Writing that list was step number one in my personal transformation.

Publishing it changed my life.

So why should you create a bucket list?

To put it simply, the reason you should write out a bucket list is that there will be no easier time than right now to make a change in your life.

Dates are arbitrary. The best time to make a change was yesterday.

The next best time? Right now.

Within one year of creating my list, I’d climbed a mountain, worked from an exotic island, created a successful business, and much more.

Potato Head Beach Club in Bali, Indonesia

When I lived in Bali, I’d come here and work from this exact spot. Then grab an ice-cold Bintang and go swimming 🙂 To go even more full circle, this place ended up on the Top 100 Bars list one year.

All it took was the courage to start.

As you can tell, I owe a lot to the list with the stupid name. So let’s make it really easy for you to spend a few extra minutes today creating a list of your own.

How to Create a Bucket List This Year

Here are ten useful tips for writing a successful bucket list that will help you make this year the most productive, adventurous, and fun yet.

In this video, you’ll learn:

After you’ve watched that, here are ten things you can do to not only start creating your bucket list but actually accomplish the items on it this year!

1) Find Accountability

This is one of the most important aspects of a successful bucket list, and why I put it first. As with anything in life, if you don’t have some form of accountability, you ultimately won’t follow through.

You know better than anyone what works best for you, but I will say having a close friend who will constantly check in on you (and vice versa) is a great way to ensure you’re both staying on track and not letting your comfortable routine take over your life too much.

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. Talk to your best friend about creating your list together.
  2. Publish it online
  3. Set a goal for when you have to have the first thing done.

Note: Don’t have anyone in mind for accountability? Check out Location Rebel Academy.

2) Have multiple things you can do on a random Saturday

It’s easy to just start listing off every major tourist destination in the world and call it a bucket list. But for most people, it’s going to be a while before you can plan that trip to the Eiffel Tower.

It’s really important to have a bunch of things that you could sit down and do on a Saturday if you wanted to.


Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you aren’t making progress, you’ll get frustrated, and stop making it a priority. If you have a bunch of things you can do over a weekend, you can easily get yourself out of that rut.

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. Create a Top 100 list (favorite movies or albums of all time is a great one)
  2. Try to make a fancy food you never thought you’d ever be able to make. I recently decided to make a croquembouche on a whim.
  3. Include things you’ve wanted to do in your hometown or nearby

3) Have other things that will take you years to accomplish

Alternatively, remember that this is a lifetime list. So you don’t want things you can just bang out in a month.

One of my goals is to fly on a Virgin Galactic space flight. Probably not something that’s going to happen anytime soon, but it’s a lofty goal to reach for!

A better example is my goal to play at Augusta National Golf Club. It’s one of (if not the) hardest golf courses in the world to play. I’ve essentially spent the last decade-plus building my golf brand and contact list in the hopes one day I’ll get an invitation.

I think I’m getting closer!

I haven't gotten to play the course yet, but because of this blog, I was invited to the Masters by L180 reader and now friend, Gene. Then he invited me back.

I haven’t gotten to play the course yet, but because of this blog, I was invited to the Masters by Location Rebel reader and now my friend, Gene. Then he invited me back.

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. What’s something you’ve said, “Oh, I could never do that”?
  2. What’s the most outlandish thing you can think of that would give you crazy bragging rights?
  3. What major life change would you like to make one day?

4) Tell EVERYONE about your new bucket list goals

I’m going to let you in on a little secret to my success. A big part of the reason I’ve done so much is simply because I tell people I’m going to do it.

The more I do that, the more it seeps into your brain, that maybe it’s actually going to happen. A few small forward steps, and all of a sudden, you’re moving to Thailandtaking an epic road trip through Scotland, or becoming a successful freelance writer.

Another example is I’ve jokingly told people for years I wanted to go to Vietnam to get my groomsmen custom-tailored suits for my wedding.

By saying it and joking about it enough times, it slowly started becoming something we actually considered doing.

Sneak Peek 17

Hundred bucks a pop!

You do have to be careful, though.

By telling people about all of the cool things you’re planning, you’ll get 90% of the endorphin rush and pleasure that you’d get from actually doing it and telling someone.

Don’t fall into a trap where you’re all talk and no follow-through – no one likes that person.

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. Pick a date for a trip you’ve always wanted to take. Start telling people. Start planning it. Even if it seems impossible. You might be surprised how far a little action will go.
  2. Email your bucket list to the 20 people closest to you.
  3. Publish it on your blog. Don’t have one? Here’s how to start one. Not sure you want a blog? Here are all the reasons to start a blog.

5) Postcards don’t always make the best bucket list items 

The easiest way to get started with a bucket list is just to write down all the places you’d like to go or see. That’s great, but be sure to think more broadly.

Sure, places like the Colosseum in Rome, the Empire State Building in NYC, and the Sydney Opera House are great – but in my experience, many things like that are a bit of a letdown because you’ve seen them so many times in pictures and movies.

It’s the experiences in those places that are almost more memorable (smoke a cigar in Cuba, have a slice of pizza in NYC, scuba dive in the great barrier reef).

Derek Johanson, Clay Boeschen and Sean Ogle at Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana, Cuba

Derek Johanson, Clay Boeschen and Sean Ogle at Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana, Cuba

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. List 5 big tourist attractions you want to see. Now alternatively, write 5 more “experiential” things that could go along with that.
  2. Limit yourself (at first) to 20 travel items on your list
  3. Add 3 places that no one you know has been

6) Think about all facets of life

This is huge, we’ve mentioned a lot about travel, but really this should be a small part of your list. Think about all of the different potential categories you could add:

Start with those because, for most of us, travel might be the catalyst for wanting to start knocking items off, but it will still represent a relatively small portion of your day-to-day life.

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. Start with each of the above categories, and try and come up with 10 items for each
  2. Organize via time frame. This week, this month, this year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 25 years.
  3. Make a list of things you’re unhappy with currently in your life. These can all represent bucket list lifestyle changes you want to make.

7) Add Something You’ve Already Done

This may seem like cheating, but actually, it’s a great way to kickstart your progress.

It can be intimidating to stare at a blank list with nothing crossed off. If you can add a couple of items that you’ve done within the last year, it’ll help you to feel like you’ve already made progress and get you going.

When I first created my list, I had just returned from Brazil, so I added a few things like “Hang Glide over Rio” and “Dance in the Rio Carnival Parade”.

Not a bad look for us, eh?

Not a bad look for us, eh?

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. Try and think of one thing from each of the categories in 6 that you’ve already done and add it to the list. Along these lines, consider making a “reverse bucket list.”
  2. Think through the last 3 months and add anything you’ve done that seems bucket list worthy
  3. Included something easy that you’re about to do. Don’t have anything on the calendar? Get it on there.

8) Add a Theme or a Timeline

This post has been more about a generic overarching bucket list, but there are all sorts of variations on this that could be a better fit for you.

For instance, my friend Tonja is counting down the days to her 30th birthday by doing one thing a day that only a twenty-something would do.

My golf course bucket list is a great example of this.

Sean and Dan Pebble

My buddy Dan and I on the 7th at Pebble Beach on of the Top 10 courses in the world.

So is my bar quest.

Atlas Bar Singapore

This is Atlas Bar in Singapore – one of the top 10 bars in the world.

And to my bucket list on location rebel, I even added sub-items. You can have a winter bucket list, a Chicago bucket list, a before-50 bucket list, and more. Like a list of all the hotels I want to stay at (seriously, I’m documenting it) or restaurants I want to eat at.

On a more short-term basis, you could also create a list that’s along the lines of “12 things in 12 months” if a full-on bucket list seems too ambitious or overwhelming

Three Ways to Get Started

  1. Make a list of your hobbies. Then think of goals or achievements related to that.
  2. Would you rather do a shorter timeframe? Think about that and why it is. Then plan accordingly.
  3. Use creative Googling – You’ll find ideas for just about anything you could want to do.

9) Use a Pencil, Not Pen

Some people will create a list and put it in stone. Over the years, both you and your goals are going to change – so your list should as well. Don’t be afraid to add things or take them off if you decide it’s no longer a good fit.

For instance, I was sitting on a snowy runway in Detroit a few years ago, and I saw a plane de-icer for the first time. Immediately I thought, “I want to do that!” and added it to the list…

Two Ways to Get Started

  1. Schedule periodic reviews. If something is still on there that you don’t want to do, cross it off and replace it with something else.
  2. Use other people’s ideas or lists to get started – then slowly add your own stuff as you get more creative.

10) Make a Huge Brainstorm List…Anything Goes

The easiest way to get started is simply to start. This is going to be harder than you think, so do it over the course of days or weeks rather than get frustrated if you can’t come up with as much as you expected in the first sitting.

There’s no such thing as a good or bad bucket list item. Write it down, and remember you can always change it later.

Four Ways to Get Started

  1. Do it every day for a week — 10 minutes at a time.
  2. Keep a list in your pocket, so anytime something new hits you, you can write it down immediately
  3. Read a couple of bucket list books to help inspire you.
  4. Remember not to stress — it’s supposed to enrich your life, not burden it.

Hopefully, these tips will help you figure out how to start your bucket list and get you closer to doing more of the stuff you want to do in life.

When I ask readers the question, “What does your perfect day look like” you wouldn’t believe how many people have no idea how to answer it. They don’t know what they want in life. By writing down your bucket list, you will. 

Just remember the most important part: hit publish. Hold yourself accountable, tell as many people as possible, and you’ll be on your way to a more exciting and fulfilling life in no time.

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Still Stuck Getting Started Creating a Bucket List?

If you’re still having trouble getting started after all of that, consider creating a reverse bucket list.

This is where you create a list of things you’ve already done. It helps you realize you’ve done more than you think, and it makes it easier to build momentum and come up with things you haven’t done as well.

And lastly, take the pressure off. This is for fun.

Start small, pick a few do-able things, and go for them. If you don’t make everything on your list, so what? But I can promise you if you don’t ever start creating a bucket list, you’re going to miss out on a ton of amazing opportunities.

I know I’d never be where I am today if I hadn’t taken action.

So, it’s time for you to get started. 🙂

This post was updated for accuracy in April 2023.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less)

Join over 40,000 people who have taken our 6 part freelance writing course. Sign up below and let’s do this together.

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8 comments on "How to Create a Bucket List in 10 Easy Steps"

  1. Am I right in feeling like I shouldn’t even bother creating a bucket list yet? I have plenty of things I’d love to do before I die, but don’t really have the means (namely, money) to do them right now. It just seems kind of pointless to say “I want to travel to x place” when I couldn’t even do it right now if I wanted to.

    1. Penny says:

      Just came across your comment- you need to read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne! Then you will know why writing your list even if you can’t afford to do the things is so important!! Then read The Power 🙂

      1. Justyna Frank says:

        Hey Chris, the sooner the better! Take it from someone who has hit midlife: DO NOT WAIT!!! Time only gets shorter. Many bucket-worthy things don’t require any money at all. Here are a couple of mine: (1) Sleep outside in the snow (2) Write a manifesto (3) Guerrilla-camp in a large city (I’ve done this). Google micro-adventures. You can do amazing things without leaving your city or your job (until you are ready). Have fun!

    2. Garry says:

      Hey Chris, Just came across this page and scrolled down to comments. Your Bucket List does not have to contain only things that you cannot afford. There are things one can do that cost little or no money – or make a 10% of income savings to put towards a goal of something to afford to do as one of your Bucket List Items. 😉

  2. CSue says:

    I read several of your bucket list articles, and while I’m happy this type of list makes you happy, to me it seems pointless. My takeaway from my life and travels is that exactly *what* you do and *where* you go is pretty irrelevant. What matters is how you live life, how you travel, how you work, etc. Let’s take travel as an example. I’ve learned I love to bike while traveling, and that it doesn’t matter if I do that in Austria or Switzerland or Germany or France or Czechia (awesome biking btw!)… I can get a similar experience from any of those. So there’s no specific towns or attractions on my bucket list. There’s only things that are more goal/value oriented such as: “Take time every year to bike somewhere new,” “Talk to locals more while traveling,” and “Have a positive attitude no matter what happens; it’s all an experience.” This makes more sense to me than crossing places off a list.

  3. Aukele says:

    Just wanted to thank you for getting me Jazzed about making my 1st bucket list. One of the best suggestions.? Publishing it would never gave consider that 🤙

  4. This is truly inspirational. <3

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