“Every man dies — Not every man really lives.” — William Ross
“The only people who fear death are those with regrets.” — Author Unknown
A few days ago, I was surfing online when I came across someone’s bucket list. It inspired me to create my own bucket list and write a post about it at the same time.
What’s a Bucket List?
If you have never heard of the term “bucket list”, it is a list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfill, and life experiences you wish to experience before you die.
Why Create a Bucket List?
If you don’t live your days by goals and plans, chances are that you spend most of your time caught in a flurry of day-to-day activities. Ever felt that your days are passing you by without any tangible output? What did you accomplish in the past month? What are your goals for the next three months? Look at the things that you have been doing and the things that you’re planning to do next — do they mean anything to you if you are to die today? Having a bucket list reminds you of what’s really important to you so that you can act on them.
Even if you live by goals or to-do lists, they are probably framed within a social context, e.g. performance, career, health. A bucket list opens up the context for your life. It’s a list to identify everything you’ve ever wanted to do, whether it’s big or small, purposeful or random.
It’s just like planning all the highlights for YOUR life. :D Even though I already set goals by default, I still found many new things to do while writing on my own list. It was an incredibly insightful exercise. What’s more, coming up with my list gave me new-found enthusiasm knowing what I have planned ahead for my life!
The objective of creating this list isn’t to create some fear-based mentality toward death. I don’t see our existence to be limited to our physical years on Earth — our physical lifespan is but a short speck of our existence in the universe. The whole point of creating a bucket list is to maximize every moment of our existence and live our life to the fullest. It’s a reminder of all the things we want to achieve in our time on Earth so that instead of spending our time on pointless things, we direct it toward things that matter to us.
Create Your Bucket List
If you don’t have a bucket list, I highly recommend you to create one. How much will it cost? Zero. How long will it take? Probably 30 minutes to an hour; more if you get really caught up in writing it. :) What do you stand to gain? Significant clarity in what you want from life. It’s an invaluable exchange. :)
If you already have a bucket list, take this opportunity to review it. See if there are new items you want to add on. If so, add them in. Check if all the items listed are still relevant. If not, remove them.
Now, take out your pen and paper or open up a text document. Start writing down what comes to mind as you read these questions:
- What if you were to die tomorrow? What would you wish you could do before you die?
- What would you do if you had unlimited time, money and resources?
- What have you always wanted to do but have not done yet?
- Any countries, places or locations you want to visit?
- What are your biggest goals and dreams?
- What do you want to see in person?
- What achievements do you want to have?
- What experiences do you want to have/feel?
- Any special moments you want to witness?
- What activities or skills do you want to learn or try out?
- What are the most important things you can ever do?
- What would you like to say/do together with other people? People you love? Family? Friends?
- Any specific individuals (celebrities, famous people, world leaders) you want to meet in person?
- What do you want to achieve in the different areas of your life: Social, Love, Family, Career, Finance, Health (your weight, fitness level), Spiritual?
- What do you need to do to live a life of greatest meaning as defined by you?
Come up with as many items as you can. The items should be things you have not done yet. Don’t stop until you have at least 101 things! If you find yourself stuck, chances are you are mentally limiting yourself. Release those shackles — your bucket list is meant to be a list of everything you want to achieve, do, see, feel and experience in your life. Check out the next section for added inspiration.
101 Things To Do Before You Die
Here are 101 items to consider for your bucket list. :) Look through the list — is there anything that resonates with you? Note that the list below is a sample list of things you can put for your own list. Not all of them will work for you, and you shouldn’t do them for the sake of it. Take the items that resonate with you and use them for your own list! For your convenience, I’ve included useful resources (hand-picked by me) to aid you in your bucket list quest.
1. Travel all around the world
Traveling — it’s the single best activity that exposes you to new cultures, broaden your mind, move out of your comfort zone, allow you to meet new people, and experience the wonders of the world.
I’m a strong advocate of traveling and have in fact traveled widely around the world in the past years. In 2011, I went on a 7-month non-stop trip around Europe and U.S. where I met PE readers from around the world and held PE readers meetup in London, London again, New York, and Los Angeles. I’ve subsequently been to Kuala Lumpur, India, South Africa, Hong Kong, Scotland, and Hong Kong where I held PE reader meetups in all of them (except India).
All in all, I’ve spent about 50% of my time between 2011 to 2013 traveling! I look forward to visiting new places such as South America, Canada, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand moving forward.
How about you? What new countries would you like to visit? Here are some traveling resources:
- Travel recommendations:
- List of Countries in the World (Alphabetical Order)
- Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel
- Wonders of the World
- 1000 Places to See Before You Die
- Insights on Holland — View from an Outsider’s Perspective (Series) — If you’re planning to visit Holland, here’s my 7-part series from when I visited the country in 2011
- Visa Requirements: Visa Requirements by Nationality
- Packing: Ultimate Packing List
2. Learn a new language
Learning a new language is never easy but it’s so satisfying when you are able to converse with someone in a foreign language! I admire people who are multi-lingual — I’m personally fluent in only English and Mandarin while having functional knowledge of Hokkien, Japanese, and Bahasa Indonesia. I hope to learn a few foreign languages — Spanish being one of them — in the future.
Some language resources:
- List of Languages in the World
- 12 Rules for Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time
- How to Learn Any Language — Website
- Verbling | italki — Language exchange site
3. Try a profession in a different field
What profession are you in now and how long have you been doing this? Is it time for a change in profession? It’s nice to do something different from what you have been doing, and it doesn’t have to involve quitting your current job — you can always experiment with volunteer work in a field you enjoy or start up a part-time business on the side. It’s all about expanding your horizon and trying something new.
4. Achieve your ideal weight
I used to be a severe binge eater (a story which I’ve shared in My Journey with Emotional Eating series) and making the commitment to overcome my emotional eating, live healthily, and lose my excess weight has been one of the single best decisions I’ve made in my life.
Make the commitment to be healthy. What is your ideal weight? Are you at your ideal weight today? What can you do to start being healthy? Some weight loss resources:
- 10 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight (and What To Do About Them)
- How To Stop Emotional Eating (6-part series)
- How To Lose 25kg in Just 8 Months [Video]
- How to Develop a Positive Body Image (4-part series)
5. Run a marathon
A marathon is a long-distance race of 42.2 km (26.2 miles) long — definitely not an easy feat that requires training and hard work! Training and completing a marathon will not only develop you in your physical strength and endurance, but also your mental persistence, will, and attitude. Read:
6. Take part in a triathlon
A triathlon is a “multiple-stage competition involving the completion of 3 continuous and sequential endurance disciplines.” Modern-day triathlons are swim/bike/run events that are done in that order. If you think that a marathon is tough, wait till you try a triathlon — the ironman triathlon consists of 3.86 km (2.4 mi) swim, a 180.25 km (112-mi) bicycle ride and a 42.2 km (26.2-mi) run (that’s a marathon-length race!), raced in that order and without a break!
But don’t run in the opposite direction just yet — there are many triathlons of varying distances that are completely manageable. For example, a sprint triathlon is 750 m / (0.47 mi) / 20 km (12.4 mi) / 5 km while an Olympic triathlon is 1.5 km (0.93 mi) / 40 km (24.8 mi) / 10 km (6.2 mi). One of my readers decided to train for a triathlon as a personal milestone — despite never having done a marathon in her life! She eventually completed the triathlon after a year of training, and was so proud of herself!
Ready to take up the triathlon challenge? :) Read:
- How Do I Train For My First Triathlon?
- The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Triathlons
- Triathlon Training for Beginners — a training resource website
- TriFind — Triathlon calendar for America
7. Take up a new sport
Sports are a great way to keep fit! Whether you’re an indoor or outdoor person, there is a sport for everyone. Here are some sports to try out:
- Technique sports: Archery, Golf, Bowling, Billiard, Skateboarding, Skating, Roller-blading, Ice skating
- Racket sports: Squash, Badminton, Tennis, Table tennis
- Water sports: Water rafting, Kayaking, Wakeboarding, Sailing, Swimming, Scuba diving, Snorkeling
- Group sports: Soccer, Rugby, Baseball, Basketball, Ultimate frisbee
8. Go scuba diving / snorkeling and experience marine life up close
As humans, we spend all of our lives on land. Yet there is a whole world under the sea that we’re not privy to! Do you know that 71% of the Earth’s surface is actually the ocean? And do you know that because of the ocean’s depth, it contains about 300 times the habitable volume of the terrestrial habitats on Earth — and many ocean species are still to be discovered?
With scuba diving and snorkeling, you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the marine life — and see, feel, and experience the vast ocean in person. Scuba diving is one of my bucket list items!
- Marine biology [Wiki]
- Snorkeling.info — Complete resource for snorkeling
- 25 Best Places To Go Scuba Diving
- Scuba Diving — Complete resource for scuba diving
- 10 Top Spots to Snorkel
9. Go skiing
There’s something about being able to glide on snow while controlling your motor movements that just makes skiing such a fun sport. It’s by no means easy or safe — one should take lessons before attempting to ski alone — but it’s worth trying out, especially for people who don’t live in winter countries. I personally haven’t skied before and would love to give it a shot next time. Read:
- Beginner Ski Lesson [Video]
- Ski resorts by country
- Ski resources — including recommended ski equipment, ski wear, and accessories
10. Trek the Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is the most famous trek in South America and is rated by many to be in the top 5 treks in the world. It starts from Chillca and follows a route to Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Incas. Read:
- Inca Trail — Comprehensive site dedicated to the Inca Trail
- Inca Trail [Wiki] — When to go, what train to take, and what to prepare
- Inca Trail Esssentials [Lonely Planet]
11. Go horseback riding
Horseback riding in Chennai, India, completing an item from my bucket list! ;)
Since as early as 4000-3500 BCE, horses have been domesticated and living alongside men. While horses used to be kept as meat animals, and subsequently as working animals to transport materials and people, today, horse riding has transformed into both a hobby and a competitive sport. Horseback riding in itself can be a good sport to relax and unwind from the busy life. Unlike typical sports where you are alone or with other people, in horseback riding, you work together with an animal — the horse — and often times build an emotional bond with it, sometimes one even stronger, more unspeakable, than what you have with fellow peers.
More on horseback riding:
- Horseback Riding — How to Start [Video]
- Know Before You Go: Horseback Riding
- Complete Idiot’s Guide to Horseback Riding [Book]
12. Do an extreme sport
I don’t consider myself an extreme sports person, but I like to experiment in life. When I was in Cape Town in April 2013, my host and reader Lizette invited me to go paragliding as she has friends who are licensed tandem paragliding pilots. I took up the offer, and went paragliding not once, but twice!!!
The experience was immense and one that I’ll never forget. I do recommend everyone to try at least one extreme sport in our lifetimes! (Of course, make sure *all* safety precautions are in place and you are with professional and licensed instructors.) While the experience may only last a couple of minutes, those few minutes will be some of the most memorable ones in your life.
More on my paragliding experience here: My Paragliding Experience in Cape Town
- 20 unmissable extreme sports (and where to try them)
- Bungee jumping: Top 10 bungee jumps in the world
- Paragliding: Top paragliding sites in the world
- Skydiving: World’s best places to skydive and bungee jump
13. Climb a mountain
Why risk your life to climb a mountain when the journey is fraught with rocky terrains and with ever-changing weather conditions? For some, mountain climbing is an external conquest; some find enjoyment in the sport; others see it as a step in their personal growth journey. Whatever it is, mountain climbing is a feat that takes physical endurance and mental tenacity to accomplish, and is definitely a bucket list worthy item. I haven’t climbed a mountain yet but I plan to do that sometime in the future!
- “Why I Climb” — an article by a climber who has climbed over 300,000 vertical feet, 90,000 on Everest expeditions alone
- Climbing destinations around the world
- Top 10 climbs around the world
14. Learn a strategy game
Strategy games like chess, checkers, chinese chess, Reversi (also known as Otello), Mindsweeper (part of Windows bundle) are great ways to train your mind. As a child, my brother and I played chinese chess together very often; I also enjoy playing mind sports like chess and Reversi a lot and would do so with my friends and against the computer). I don’t know if playing such games helped me to be smarter, but I know it certainly taught me to think quickly, to develop a plan of action in anticipation of future issues, and to think before I act!
- List of Abstract Strategy Games [Wiki]
- Yahoo! Games — Free strategy games and board games where you can pit your skills against players around the world
15. Connect with past teachers
Some of us may think of teachers in a bad light. After all, teachers are often remembered for giving us endless assignments and tests and generally making our lives miserable while in school!
Yet, our teachers are also crucial educators who impart importanted knowledge — and life skills — to us during our early ages when we were the most impressionable. They ensured that we would be on the right path as we entered preadolescence, adolescence, and subsequently adulthood. While teachers don’t always get everything right, their intentions come from a good place and they want to see us win.
Think about your past teachers in junior school, high school, and tertiary education. Find ways to get back in touch with them. (Calling your alma mater is always a good start.) Let them know how they have touched your life.
16. Let someone know how much he/she means to you
In our life’s journey, we are constantly touched and supported by people around us, be it friends, family, or acquaintances. Can you identify someone who has made a difference in your life? Write a letter to the person today and let him/her know how much he/she means to you. You can do this as many times as you want, for as many people as you like. Read:
- #GratitudeChallenge Day 3: Write a Gratitude Note to Someone
- #KindnessChallenge Day 9: Write a Letter to Someone Who Has Made a Difference in Your Life
17. Give a heartfelt surprise to someone
When’s the last time you gave someone a surprise? :) It’s always heartwarming to come home to a nicely cooked dinner, to have a bouquet of flowers sent to you at work, or to even receive a simple text message from a loved one. Who is someone you would like to touch today? What surprise can you give to him/her?
18. Perform a kind deed without expecting anything in return
Many of us are often waiting to receive rather than to give. Yet for any relationship to work, there has to be both giving and receiving. If you often find yourself wondering why no one is giving you what you want, how about practicing giving to others first? :) The rest will follow.
Can you think of someone in your life who is in need of help or can benefit from your help? How can you extend your support to him/her? Read:
- Day 11: Acts of Kindness in Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program
- #GratitudeChallenge Day 9: Share Something You are Grateful For with Someone
- How to Have More Best Friends: My Heartfelt Guide
19. Make a difference in someone’s life
Making a difference is more than doing a kind deed, though it can come as a result of a kind deed. When you make a difference in someone’s life, you change the person’s life for the better… permanently. What is the difference YOU want to make in others’ lives? How can you make that happen?
20. Be a mentor to someone
Teaching is one of the most rewarding things we can do. No matter how old you are, even if you are in your teens, you are always in the position to mentor someone else — perhaps someone who is more junior than you or someone who is older but can benefit from a particular expertise you have. Mentoring others is also a great way for you to develop yourself too.
Many communities are always looking for volunteer mentors, so check with your local community programs for such opportunities. At the same time, is there anyone you know who can benefit from being mentored by you? Extend your hand to help — who knows, it may well be what he/she needs at this moment!
21. Pursue your passion
Honestly, life is too short to be spent doing something you don’t love. This was why I quit my day job in September 2008 (right start at the start of the financial crisis no less) to pursue my passion to help others grow. I have never looked back ever since — for the past 5 years, I’ve been writing at Personal Excellence and helping people to grow. It has been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done and I plan to do this for the rest of my life.
What is your passion? Is it to be an artist? To sing and perform? To be a life coach? To travel? To help other people to grow (same as my passion)? To be the best that you can be? How can you start pursuing it?
If you don’t know what your passion is, this exercise will help you to discover it: Discover Your Life Purpose in the Next 30 Minutes
Some people pursue their passion part time while some make it their careers (or even turn their passion into a business). I personally think that if something is your passion, then you should turn it into your life’s work, because that’s the most synergistic and rewarding path you can pursue. Contrary to common belief that pursuing your passion is at odds with being rich, you can pursue your passion and be financially abundant. I’m an example of this.
These articles document the early stages of my passion journey and will help you in yours:
- Passion or Money?
- How To Discover Your Ideal Career: Your Message and Your Medium
- Overcome Fear Of Loss And Pursue Your Dreams
- Pursuing Your Passion With No Money
- Passion Paycheck
22. Start your business
Entrepreneurship is fraught with uncertainty but it certainly is fun and rewarding! I started my personal development business in 2008 without knowledge of professional blogging or coaching and started earning more than my last corporate pay within my third year. By being smart, diligent, and persistent in your endeavor, there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t succeed. Read:
- Can Everyone Be Successful in Starting Their Business?
- Successful Businesses Interview Series
- Million Dollar Tip Series
23. Fly in a hot-air balloon
The view of the world as you float away in a hot-air balloon… spectacular. Once, I got to fly in a hot-air balloon while I was in Orange County in 2012… though that was just a stationary balloon ride that went up for a minute before coming back down. My next goal is to have a real hot-air balloon ride.
24. Sing to an audience
If you love singing, don’t keep your passion to yourself! The next time there is an event, offer to sing as one of the performance items. Singing shouldn’t be limited to when you are showering in the bathroom. :)
25. Do volunteer work
Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the world. As I mentioned in Day 4: Sign Up for Volunteer Work of the Kindness Challenge,
Volunteer work is one of the best ways to expose yourself to a new medium of helping other people. There are tons of volunteer work out there, from assisting the elderly at the old folks’ home, working with delinquent kids, being a mentor to kids at orphanages, helping out at animal shelters, beach cleanups, and so on.
Volunteer work doesn’t have to be some grandiose act. As long as you are offering a part of yourself pro bono to the world (be it in terms of skills, knowledge, time, effort, or money), you are in fact volunteering.
Some places to get started: