Prioritize Your Bucket List (Or, How to Die Happy Any Time)

This post was previously published on the blog in August 2014.

If you’re like me, you have a lengthy bucket list and all of it sounds fun.  We want to skydive while traveling across Europe on our way to a meditation retreat at which we find the love of our life, right?

How do you prioritize your bucket list and make sure you actually start living your deepest dreams and goals?

Well, I took six steps toward my bucket list and the last two years of my life have been drastically different from the ones before. Give these a try and let us know how the steps work for you:

1. Write it All Down

Everything you’ve ever wanted to do. Nothing is too big or too small for this list. Working in Excel will make the next steps much easier.

2. Create 3 Levels

In a second column, write 1, 2 or 3 next to every item. Ones are the things you have to do in order to die happy someday. Twos are things you’d love to look back on in old age. Threes are things that would be cool to complete, but aren’t totally gripping you right now.

Sort the data by this column, so the Ones are at the top.

3. Estimate the Money

In Column C, create estimates for all of your Ones.  Do quick searches on flights and hotels, or classes and books, or gear and lessons.  Use rough averages; it doesn’t have to be precise at this stage.

Not everything requires money, I understand. But even the lofty goals, like falling in love, might require a subscription.

4. Estimate the Time

In Column D estimate the time you’ll need for each item.  If you’re very detailed, create two columns: actual days and vacation days.

Not everything has a clear timeline, I understand. This column is mostly about how much time you want to truly and utterly devote to the project.

Now, all of your Ones – the things you must do in order to die happy (some day, very distant future) –have budgets and timelines. Let the IRL (in real life) fun start!

Prioritize your Bucket List chart

5. Commit Time and Money This Year

Ask yourself these two questions: How much money can I spend on these projects in the next year? How much time can I devote to them?

6. Do the Bucket List

Believe it or not, the answers to those last two questions are your only limitations to dying happy at any time, at least when it comes to prioritize your bucket list.  If you have $500 to spare in the next year, get to work on the bucket list items that cost less than that.  If you only have 3 vacation days left, get to work on the projects you can accomplish in that time.

You may be surprised at how much is within your reach.  The first year I did this, I accomplished 5 things on my bucket list!

And, of course, the more time and money you devote to your bucket list, the more of your dreams and goals you can accomplish.  But you’ll find you can start somewhere in some way, and then living your dreams will become a way of life!