Do you remember being in the fifth grade and writing down all the things you wanted to do with your seemingly long life? Skydiving, hot air balloon rides, traveling the world and learning a different language were on the top of my list, but now they seem a tad ridiculous. But that’s they beauty of a Bucket List—it can be anything you think of.
People have been creating lists of life goals forever, but the term “Bucket List” came to be when Justin Zackham, screenwriter for the film “The Bucket List,” released his movie in 2007. In the film, Edward Cole and Carter Chambers, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, bust out of a cancer ward and start on a road trip to cross off crucial life goals before they die.
The idea of having an ultimate list exploded after that blockbuster hit. The term perpetuated movies and TV shows, and soon everyone had their own bucket list. Such lists provide people things to look forward to instead of a mundane job or the same vacation spot.
A bucket list will be forever changing; you should always be adding new goals to it and crossing things off. You will settle down someday (or maybe not), but for now you are twenty-something and this is the perfect time for adventure.
1. Travel somewhere and everywhere.
Especially somewhere you don’t know the language. Not being able to communicate well is terrifying, but it will force you to learn the language and you’d come back home a little more enlightened. Immerse yourself in a different culture with different religions, people and places. Explore the beautiful world and all it has to offer.
2. Take a big risk.
Go bungee jumping, volcano boarding, ice climbing or bull riding. Take a leap and do something that’s risky because that’s where real adrenaline is. It’s fun to be a risk-taker at least once in your life.
3. Take a cross-county road trip.
Experiencing the different nuances of your country can be exhilarating. You can visit mom-and-pop shops in new places, play the license plate game one too many times, stay in cheap (possibly dicey) motels, eat various types of delicious cuisine, but also snack on unhealthy junk and jam out to a lifetime’s worth of music.
4. Learn to cook.
You might not be the next Gordon Ramsey, but knowing how to whip up a good meal is critical to a fulfilling life, and it comes in handy when having people over (chicken nuggets and fries can get old).
5. Work a humble job.
Or maybe a few. Working a job where you know you’ll never advance might seem useless, but you’ll find an appreciation for people you might not otherwise, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail associates and just anyone who works minimum wage or relies on tips.
6. Find an organization or cause and be passionate about.
It doesn’t matter what the cause is—kidney disease research, feeding the homeless or rescuing stray animals. Pick something that interests you and go after it by volunteering or donating. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” That change isn’t going to happen if you’re constantly binge-watching Netflix.
7. Discover something new about yourself.
Youth is the time for personal growth and self-discovery. Every new experience you have will change you, so will each person you meet. You will look back and realize you were a different person and that’s great. Attempt to learn more about yourself everyday and grow from those dissimilarities.
8. Attempt to watch all one hundred of the best movies of all time.
American Film Institute has an interactive list of 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time. The list spans a wide variety of genres and you can check them off as you watch them. You can see where you stack up against the list before tackling it (I’ve only seen fifteen of them so far).
9. Move somewhere new.
Moving can be scary for anyone, but it’s also thrilling to start fresh in a new place. Your twenties are the perfect time to find new cities to immerse yourself into and see if you could be successful there. How do you think your parents decided on where to raise you? Maybe they just stayed in the same place where their parents raised them, but it’d be nice to think they explored different places first, too.
10. Go to Disney World.
Maybe you’ve already been to Disney World as a kid, but experiencing the magic as an adult can be better. You could explore different countries in Epcot, set sail with pirates in the Magic Kingdom and fly on top a banshee in the Animal Kingdom. You can truly be a kid again.
11. Plant a garden.
There is a satisfaction that comes with planting; grow, eat your own food and the environment will thank you. Living in an apartment can be tricky to start your gardening career, but you can use containers for your garden to grow vegetables and such in bigger pots on a patio—it works great and gives you the same gratification.
12. Run a marathon.
Okay, so not everyone is Usain Bolt, but pushing yourself physically is good for your body and soul. Training for a marathon or even a 5k is an excellent way to create a habit of exercising regularly, which will pay off in more ways than one.
13. Start saving.
Create an emergency fund and start your 401(k). What happens if your car breaks down and you don’t have any money to fix it? You’ll be taking the bus. Being prepared for the things no one can predict is just a smart decision.
Retirement probably isn’t even on your radar at this point, but it will creep up on you. If you don’t want to work for the rest of your life, you’ll need money to kick back in that beach chair, so start now and you’ll have a good nest egg for later.
14. Forgive yourself.
Everyone makes mistakes. Recognize when you do, forgive yourself and move on. It’s much healthier not to hold on to negative feelings about things you can’t change.
15. Be utterly and uncontrollably happy.
This should be on everyone’s bucket list regardless of age. Don’t mope around and be unhappy instead—smile, laugh, dance, spread cheer wherever you go and enjoy your life.
If you don’t have a list, now is the perfect time to get started, so grab a pen and begin writing.