I don’t know the last time you updated your big dream “Bucket List,” or if you even have one. I update my bucket list of 150 items at least once a year to make sure I’m on track with my big dream, that I’m meeting my commitments to causes I support, and that I’ve allowed myself time to complete at least one, fun bucket list item.
Life is too short, I think, to postpone working on your big dream or add simple, fun adventure ideas to your bucket list.
And I want you to know that it’s OK to have small, simple bucket list items. People make the mistake of thinking that a big dream or a bucket list has to be made up of things like hiking to the top of Macchu Picchu or swimming with the sharks in the Maldives.
A big dream or bucket list item can be something as simple as visiting an amusement park you’ve been wanting to see since you were a small child.
Completion of a Small Bucket List Item
I live in Troy, New York. I have traveled the world. And yet, I have always romanticized Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York because it seems like such a beachfront slice of Americana, filled with history and nostalgia, and of course, something I love–roller coasters! This famous place is literally in my back yard, and I’ve never bothered to slow down enough to check it out.
This year, I added Coney Island to my bucket list because I’ve always wanted to visit and there was a lot of controversy and activism a few years back about tearing down a historical roller coaster that hadn’t been operational for over twenty years. I wanted to see what the city constructed in its place.
Last week I convinced a dear friend to accompany me to this famous amusement park. As luck would have it, we visited Brooklyn on a gloriously sunny day. The drive to Coney Island takes about 40 minutes. It was a perfect day to blast the radio and sing along to silly pop and rap songs.
As you get closer to the park, which is appropriately located at 1000 Surf Avenue, you pass Mermaid Street and Neptune Street. That, by the way, is also on my bucket list– to attend the famous Mermaid Parade on Coney Island, where every June, people dress in sea-themed costumes and perform for judges.
Friends of mine have won the Mermaid Parade group performance competition as the “Brooklyn Bombshell Revue” for the past several years. They are swing dancers who do the historical style of American vernacular jazz dance that I do, which is the Lindy Hop. My bucket list plan for this item is to whip up a sparkly costume, heavy on the glitter and fins, and to strut my stuff as a slinky, sexy Mermaid.
This week’s trip to Coney Island was more of a jeans-and-T-shirt kind of day, although I did wear big movie star style sunglasses, large round white frames with rhinestones, just because it seemed Coney Island appropriate.
My Bucket List Item to See the Roller Coaster Silhouettes for the First Time
It’s thrilling to drive up and see the silhouettes of the roller coasters from afar if you are a mild adrenaline junkie like I am. There is a replacement for the famous 1925 wooden roller coaster that was partially destroyed in 1998 fire, which is also called the Thunderbolt.
The new Thunderbolt’s looping, twirling track is bright orange, characterized by one fold of track at the beginning that sends you straight up towards the sky and then drops you straight down before flying through some upside down loops and whipping around some curves. I’d advise you to be careful of what you eat before daring to get on this ride!
A good part of the fun of the park is the kitschy, nostalgic touches that are still there, from the Zoltar game that was featured in the movie, “Big” to the Tea Cup ride that seems straight out an Alice in Wonderland set. Of course, there were all of the sugary delights one would expect: Italian ices, cotton candy, fried dough.
Taking My Bucket List Item For A Spin
I tend to like to challenge myself with big, scary roller coasters, and my friend was less of a fan. We compromised on some rides that twist and spin without tossing you upside down, and without any straight vertical drops. For someone who doesn’t like heights, he was honestly an excellent sport. I was just happy to finally be able to play at this kitschy, fun park that is an iconic part of American history.
Of course, we had Italian ices and watched the sunset at the beach, which was beautiful. And I got to check something else off my bucket list! My friend had never been to Coney Island either, so he was grateful to have finally made it as well.
How to Create Your Own Bucket List
Do you have a bucket list? If not, what are you waiting for? Do you daydream for far-away travel destinations you hope to visit one day? Is there music you have always wanted to sing? Foreign recipes that call out to you to learn to create? Latin dance steps classes you’d like to master? The reason for making a bucket list is not to make you sad about where your life is right now because every day brings with it fresh, new experiences if you are open to see them. But a bucket list can, nonetheless, help you to feel more hopeful, to dream big dreams, and to understand better what your soul is yearning.
How to Create a Bucket List for your Big Dreams and Little Adventures:
1. Buy a journal or a Memo Pad to be used exclusively for your bucket list. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be something you can write your thoughts in and have at least 160 blank pages.
2.When you are ready to create your bucket list, set aside at least an hour of quiet time. Turn off your phone, turn off the TV, play music that won’t distract your thoughts, and do this exercise by yourself, so you are not interrupted by someone walking into the room.
3. Start with a separate piece of scratch paper and number it from 1 to 150. Take a deep breath, quiet your mind for a minute, so you are centered in your space. Make sure you are comfortable. Begin listing everything and anything you have always wanted to do in your life. You must complete 150 items. At first, listing your dreams may seem easy, but when you get to about 100 things, you will begin to wonder if you have anything left to complete. If you get stuck, leave the list and take a break.
If you are one of those people who is still fortunate enough to have a local bookstore in your area that also contains a magazine aisle, you may find it easier to complete your scratch 150 items wandering through there looking at the different sections and titles. The magazine aisle features everything from cars to weddings to beautifully decorated homes to unique travel destinations. This should spark ideas for all the experiences you’d like to look back upon at the end of your life.
4. Once you’ve completed your 150 items scratch paper list, fold it and put it away for a week. During the following week, you may find other ideas popping into your head of what you’d also like to add to your bucket list. Send yourself a text or an email to note the concept.
5. After a week has passed, pick a quiet time to sit down with your scratch list. Get out your specific big dream journal or ringed Memo Pad and beginning on page two or three, add the number 1 at the top, the next page add the number 2 at the top and so forth, page-by-page until you’ve written up to #150 on 150 blank pages. Once this is complete, look at your scratch list of bucket items.
6. Ask yourself what’s the first item that really hooks your heart? Write that bucket list item under your #1 and below that write your reason for wanting this dream and when you’d love to complete it by. Do this for every page in your journal. The reason I want you to wait one week is you may find there are items on your list that after reflection, don’t really resonate with your heart and there’s something else you’d rather do instead. Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself not to list an item because you think it’s impossible or you don’t believe you can do it. List whatever makes your heart sour and ignore any negative voices in your head that tell you it’s impossible.
Once you’ve completed adding all your bucket list items to your big dream journal, mark any that you consider being your top five. You can mark it with a Post-It Note or fold the top corner of the page–whatever works for you. Place the journal next to your bed.
7. Add a monthly bucket list review time to your calendar. It can be the last Sunday evening of the month before you go to bed but set an appointment once a month for the next 12 months to review your list. Don’t leave it to chance–seriously enter it on a calendar! If you use something like Google Calendar, set up notifications to remind you three days before, the night before, the day of, and an hour before you plan to sit down. You need to build in some accountability to this process. Each month as you are flipping through the pages of your list, add any notes or thoughts about any particular dream goal. This keeps your bucket list active in your mind.
8. At the end of each review period, picture sending your list out into the universe. Ask for signs and for the help you need to make your dreams a reality. Trust that you will find a way to make them happen. Keep your eyes and ears open to suggestions and signs as you go about your everyday life.
9. Each month at your bucket list review, be sure to mark any bucket list item off that you’ve completed. Write down your thoughts about the event just as I did above about my Coney island adventure.
Be sure to add a gratitude statement at the bottom of the page:
“I am so happy and grateful now that I have completed my bucket list item [# ___] to [name what you did]. I look forward with a grateful heart to completing my next bucket list item. I bless this process and release it out into the world for the good of all involved.”
I am living proof this process works for all the fantastic travel adventures I’ve enjoyed so far in my life. It’s really magical how things fall into place to help you with your bucket list once you pay attention to what you’d like to see happen in your life. Working on a bucket list will also give you hope and provide you with a mental break from any less than desirable situation you might currently find yourself.
There is no time like today to dream of a fuller life and to consider what makes you happy. Too many people are afraid of change, but when we are the captains of our change and when we initiate change in spite of our fears and trepidations, it’s the place where we will find our real joy.
Isn’t that what we all want from this one blessed life? So just do it!
Lisa Powell Graham
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.
Note: Articles by Lisa may contain affiliate links and 8WD will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link.