Bucket List :: Planning A Big Life, With Big Goals
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bucket list

Bucket List :: Planning A Big Life, With Big Goals


Why have a bucket list in the first place?

Great question.

A few years ago, a movie called The Bucket List told a story of two terminally ill gentlemen at the end of their lives who had a list of goals they wanted to complete before they died. They called it the “bucket list.” You know, the list of things to do before they kicked the bucket.

The movie followed them on their journey, providing some insights into the thoughts and feelings of people at that stage of life. It is an entertaining moving and a great reminder that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Successful people have known for a long time that the act of writing their goals makes the goals more likely to happen. It isn’t important to know why this works (I certainly don’t pretend to know why it works), but I have surrendered to the idea that it does work. Life has a funny way of giving you what you ask for, and sometimes when you least expect it. Besides, it certainly can’t hurt.

[Simon Sinek video]

Back in 2006, the CEO of our company challenged me to create a list of BIG life goals. The list needed to have at least 100 “substantial” goals on it. I couldn’t cheat by listing a bunch of expensive cars or anything fluffy like that. 

At the time, I was guilty of getting too stuck on my day-to-day tasks without taking the time to focus on the big reasons WHY I was doing all of those things in the first place. 

The challenge was a great exercise and forced me to focus on bigger-picture and longer-term things that I wanted to be, do or have. It started with two simple questions:

What would you do with your time if you only had a few months to live? And why aren’t you doing those things right now?

This is a different list than my short-term goals and daily tasks. Short-term goals and daily tasks need to be treated differently than big life goals. It’s fine to have a goal like, “Run five miles before dinner today,” but that’s different than what I’m talking about today. 

You’ll notice that the Travel and Adventure section is much larger than any of the other sections. That’s not an accident and reflects the way I prioritize my life. 

Travel and Adventure

Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Visit all 50 states. Airports don’t count. (Only five to go!)
Sneak across a country’s border without getting arrested or shot.
Go on a walking safari. Don’t get eaten by lions.
Visit the Titanic wreckage in a submarine.
Complete the entire John Muir Trail in one trip.
Hike the Himalayas and look at Mt. Everest. Spend a few lazy days at Everest Base Camp.
Take a boat trip down the Nile River.
Go to space.
Climb all the Colorado 14ers.
Swim from Alcatraz to mainland San Francisco.
Sail around the world.
Stand on Kjeragbolten boulder in Norway. Get a nice photo.
Visit Easter Island.
Ride on a camel to the Pyramids of Giza.
Go night snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.
Kiss the Blarney Stone.
Take a train ride across Canada from Toronto to Seattle.
Walk across Africa – the skinny part.
Skinny dip at the bottom of a tropical waterfall.
Visit Japan during cherry blossom season. Travel the High Road to Tibet.
Visit Victoria Falls.
Visit the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

  1. Great Pyramid of Giza
  2. Colossus of Rhodes
  3. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  4. Lighthouse of Alexandria
  5. Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
  6. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  7. Temple of Artemis

Visit the New7Wonders of the World.

  1. Great Wall of China
  2. Petra
  3. Christ the Redeemer
  4. Machu Picchu
  5. Chichen Itza
  6. Colosseum
  7. Taj Mahal

Ride in a hot air balloon over the Rocky Mountains for sunrise or sunset.
Fly on Air Force One.
Walk on the Great Wall of China.
Go diving with whale sharks. 
Visit San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja to pet some gray whales (because it’s one of the only places they will initiate human contact).
Hike to Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.
Visit Lascaux Cave in Dordogne, France.
Take the Trans-Siberian Express across Mongolia.
Spend a night at Giraffe Manor in Kenya.
Hike the GR5 from the Netherlands to Nice.
Visit Plitviče National Park in Croatia. 


Do 100 pushups, 100 pullups, and 100 situps, five times a week.
Take at least one year of Krav Maga classes.
Take at least one year of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes.
Learn how to waterski barefoot.


Teach financial literacy at local high schools.
Establish a non-profit organization focused on retrofitting homes for people who have become permanently disabled.
Take a walk with Tim.

Personal Achievement

Build a company and sell it.
Have the option to retire by December 31, 2018.
Get a pilot’s license.
Learn to play the drums.
Learn to play the piano.
Read 50 or more books every year.
Learn to surf.
Write five thank you or thinking of you notes every day.
Own ten or more rental properties free and clear by my 45th birthday.
Have date night at least once a week.
Learn to speak fluent Spanish.
Eat a steak from each of these places.


Learn to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.
Eat a puffer fish. Survive the experience.
Plan and fund a life celebration party to be automatically implemented at my funeral – compilation CDs (?) as “funeral favors,” a video message from me and photos to share. Because in death, we can still make people smile.
Go ghost hunting in a haunted house.
Find a duck-billed platypus in the wild. Point at it and laugh.
Make love on a sailboat in the South Pacific.
Participate in the annual mock coup d’etat in Ibi, Spain (every December 28th and the weapons are flour and eggs).
Go to Meat Camp.
Publish a photography book.
Record an album of ten original songs.
Write ten books.
Take a pottery class. 


Own a house on a lake.
Own a house in the mountains.
Own a house in a major city.
(These three are intentionally vague. They could be concentrated in one part of the world–like Denver, Grand Lake and Breckenridge–or scattered around the world–like New York, Lake Como and Zermatt.)
And the last goal: Never let the Possessions section of my bucket list get longer than four items, including this one. 😉

For some more color around the importance of creating your own bucket list and getting to work on the things that are the most important to you, I highly recommend this video. 

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” -Randy Pausch

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