3 min read

The Bucket List

I don’t mean this kind of bucket…

I’ve got a a little tool for you to try today, it’s called the Bucket List Tool:

1) Get some post-it notes, or slice up some paper into small chunks about the size of post-it notes.

You should have about 20-30 — I like Post-It’s and a wall to put them on personally…

2) Be near an clock or set a timer for 3 minutes (it will seem like a long time trust me).

3) Start the timer and on one post-it or piece of paper write down one idea and one idea only per piece of paper.

Move to a new piece of paper for every new idea, this separates your ideas and forces you to articulate them clearly.

4) Every idea should be something you want to do, achieve, accomplish, complete or otherwise get through before you die.

It can be anything you want, think about your health, travel (big one for many), family, friends, work/job, quality of life, housing, education, spirituality, nutrition, etc…

5) Write down as many ideas or things you want to do before you die as you can in the 3 minutes.

The time constraint forces things that truly matter to you to float to the surface of your conscious mind.

6) Write them out in a word document or in your notebook somewhere, check out Evernote or Google Docs even.

Spend a minute and see if you can link two ideas together.

For example, you would like to run a marathon and visit Greece, well why not run the world’s first marathon in Greece.

Life is a string of experiences, start experiencing.

Updated Note (04/10/11):

I’ve recently started doing this more regularly.

A minimum of once a year, but more like a few times a year, even once a quarter.

Take 3 minutes to go through the process, leave a running list open in your google tasks, evernote or other listing service (I also like Ta-Day List, by 37signals but sadly they discontinued it…).

This way when things come to mind, you have a list to go to, I frequently come up with things to add by being open to new experiences.

Maybe cross stuff off your list even as you change your mind…

When you put a time contraint on yourself, sometimes we become so focused that we forget about other things that are important to us, so you may miss something.

That’s fine, the time constraint is just to get you started, that’s why it’s important to do it regularly and review.

Plan, Execute, Review.

Plan, Execute, Review.

Remember this cycle…


You may even find things on your list that are no longer very important to you and as such, can be removed.

There are essentially 2 main things you will probably come across:

A) Outcome-Oriented Goals, (Quantitative Objectives) or things you wish to accomplish for yourself and have a quantitative measure.

These are things that are tied to outcomes, actionable numbers/metrics and performance objectives.

Typically we are setting out to accomplish something very specific and measurable with these goals.

They may include things like lose 10 lbs or finish first in a marathon, or run a half marathon in 1 hr: 30 min.

They may also be career oriented goals (become CEO of my company), or things like write New York Times Bestseller, make Y-amount of money, sell 10,000 units of Z this year, etc…

These always have a metric and almost always have a deadline for completion.

B) Experience-Oriented Goals, (Qualitative Objectives) or things you wish to experience for yourself.

These are things tied to simply enjoying an experience.

Most people write travel experiences down for this one, or the act of simply doing something for the enjoyment of doing it.

Most of the things on your bucket list will probably look like this, instead of outcome-oriented goals, 80% or more in fact.

These include things like visit Australia, Surf Hawaii, see Le Louvre, walk the Great Wall of China, or float in the dead sea.

They have no specific desired outcome, other than the experience itself.

They may even tie to things like ‘complete a marathon’ or ”complete an adventure race’ (especially with no outcome objective in mind).

This is also the difference between simply writing a book and trying to write a bestseller.

C) Process Oriented Goals (Qualitative and Quantitative Objectives)

The third concept that 99% of people don’t write down in a bucket list, are process-oriented goals, a concept I’ll be releasing the details on in 2012.

There is a lot of recent research done in the last 5 years, that suggest top performers focus on process-oriented goals, over outcome-oriented goals.

Just some food for thought…