What Exactly Is a Bucket List?
Do you ever feel like the days, weeks, and years are flying by faster than ever but there’s still so much you want to experience in life? Too often, we get stuck in routines, constantly doing the same pointless activities over and over again such as grabbing happy hour drinks, watching endless TV shows, and doing other mind-numbing activities.
Now, I’ve got nothing against hanging out with friends or watching TV, but my personal greatest fear is waking up one day to realize that 20 years have gone by and all I have to show for it is an empty feeling inside. I don’t want to get to the end of my life knowing that I could have spent my time doing more fulfilling things.
So what IS a bucket list? It’s just a list of activities, experiences, or goals you’d like to achieve before you die (or, you know, “kick the bucket”). It’s not a comparison between you and others. It’s a list of personal goals and experiences that are important to you.
It is not a race against time, but, of course, the earlier you start, the more opportunity you have to live a fuller and richer life.
If you’re young and you’re able, there’s no better time than now to start adding things to your own bucket list, whether they be self-growth focused, travel focused, entrepreneurial, or anything in between.
That being said, it’s never too late. I just met a highly successful couple in their fifties who sold off everything and decided it’s finally time to travel the world and make serious progress towards their bucket list.
Why Is This Bucket List Different?
There are lots of good bucket lists out there, but oftentimes I feel like they’re too general. I’ve taken it one step further by curating a comprehensive and specific list of the top bucket list experiences I’ve had so far, as well as new experiences I still want to have. Many of these can be done anywhere, whereas others are spread across 30 countries worldwide.
Create Your Own Bucket List
Creating your own bucket list is the first step to making actionable progress towards expanding your life experiences and individual growth. One of the most important aspects of setting goals is writing them down, and making your bucket list is a great way to get life experience goals down on paper so you can actually make progress towards accomplishing them before it’s too late.
When creating your own bucket list, start with the following steps:
51 Things To Do Before You Die
The following list is 51 top experiences to help you craft your personal perfect bucket list. Some of these are simply the most amazing things I’ve personally experienced over the course of traveling 30+ countries. Others are bucket list ideas that I’ve personally jotted down over the years and am still working towards. Some require traveling far to distant countries across the globe, whereas others are better suited to being settled in one location so you can work on them over the course of many months or years.
This ranks at the very top of my bucket list. At the age of sixteen, I backpacked all throughout China for three weeks, which completely turned my world upside down and opened my eyes. After college, I decided to embark on another solo journey that would take me across all of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Nepal. A few years later, I was back living in China and traveling all of East Asia.
Today, I no longer consider myself a “traveler,” but instead someone who lives in countries long enough to truly experience life there as a local. Over the past two years, I’ve been to most countries in Western and Eastern Europe and have spent significant time living in both, including in Berlin, Paris, London, and Serbia. Next, I plan to visit all of the countries in the Caribbean.
You’ll never forget the friends you’ll meet, the cultures you’ll experience, the food you’ll eat. Travel can be done very cost-effectively, and the good news is that you don’t even have to be 22 — travel is something that you can do at any age. Whether you want to become a rugged backpacker, hostel-hopping with a bandana and a giant backpack, or whether you’re a little older (like myself these days) and prefer staying at Airbnbs across the globe and living like a local, get your butt out there and have some fun.
The next few bucket list items below will be more detailed in terms of the greatest experiences in each location. These may serve as a good starting point for you, but you don’t have to limit yourself to them. Is there somewhere you’ve always dreamed of visiting, something you’ve always wanted to see, a thing you’ve always wanted to do? Get out there and do it.
Pro tip: Do your first trip solo — it’s the best way to experience the world. You’ll find that you’re always on your own schedule, other travelers will be much more open to befriending you, and also you get a lot of alone time for reflection.
The Annapurna Circuit is a two-week hike in the Annapurna mountain range, which is part of the Himalayas. It is widely considered the most beautiful hike in the entire world, so be warned — after you experience the views of the Himalayas on your way up to almost 6,000 meters (a little more than 17,700 feet!), no hike will ever compare.
You start off by flying into Kathmandu, Nepal, and then taking a bus to Pokhara, which is one of the common starting points. The hike starts off at around 800 meters (around 2,700 feet) above sea level where you’ll find yourself surrounded by jungle. As you trek higher and higher over the days, the climate begins to evolve until finally you’re surrounded by snow and wearing every single layer in your backpack. Then you make your way back down, stopping at natural hot springs along the way to warm your body and refresh your spirit as you travel through rice fields, long bridges, and amazing views.
Pro tip: You don’t necessarily need a guide or porter. Pack lightly, layer up as it gets colder, travel with a friend, and bring a guide book. Make sure to try the yak steak at one of the family restaurants along the way.
There’s no better place in the world to get in shape than on the beautiful island of Phuket, Thailand. There are plenty of beginner-friendly mixed martial arts bootcamps that allow you to learn a variety of martial arts, such as Muay Thai. Your average week consists of working out once or twice a day, maybe going to the beach, drinking giant coconuts, and island hopping on the weekends. The best part about living and training in Thailand (besides being in paradise) is that it’s extremely affordable. One-on-one training sessions with some of the top Muay Thai fighters in the world are oftentimes just $10-$20/hr.
If you’re ready to have the time of your life, get in the best shape you’ve ever been in, and enjoy some of the best beaches in the world, then put this on your bucket list.
Pro tip: Tiger Muay Thai is the most popular and tourist-friendly Muay Thai bootcamp facility, but there are a lot of other ones that have recently popped up nearby that are giving Tiger a run for its money.
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, covering 402 acres. Originally a Hindu temple, it was eventually transformed into a Buddhist temple in the 12th century. A trip to Angkor Wat will leave you amazed as you walk through the vast monuments and learn about Hinduism and Buddhism through endless stone carvings on the walls of temples. Angkor Wat appears on the Cambodian national flag and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
Pro tip: Make sure to get a tour guide. Unless you’re a hardcore historian, the beautiful sculptures and carvings probably won’t make much sense to you. A tour guide can help you truly appreciate how much work went not only into the construction of the monuments but also the stories installed within its walls. Oh, and if you’re going with a significant other, they can be your photographer for the day and take a bunch of cheesy pics for you!
The two-week journey down the coast of Vietnam by motorbike might be one of the most thrilling ways you can backpack in Southeast Asia. Start in Hanoi, buy a motorbike for a few hundred bucks, and take it down the coast, stopping at historical cities like Hue, Hoi An, and Da Nang until you finally get to Ho Chi Minh City where you can sell your bike for the same price you bought it.
Pro tip: If it’s raining, make sure to stay safe and avoid going on the roads. Accidents do happen and slippery narrow roads can easily become a recipe for disaster. Safety first.
Komodo dragons are modern day dragons growing up to 10 feet and 150 pounds. They can swim, climb trees, and run up to 12 mph — in other words, you don’t want to get caught by one! Komodo dragons are native to the islands Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Padar in Indonesia, which is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, full of wildlife and world-class diving. You can visit Komodo Island and see the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat as you walk around. Park rangers and guides will take you around the island and fend off any potential attacks.
Pro tip: If you go to Komodo, make sure to book a liveaboard diving trip as well. This is a great spot for world-class diving where you’ll see some of the most incredible marine life in the world, including giant manta rays, sharks, beautiful corals, turtles, and more.
Yoga is an amazing way to relax, get to know your body and spirit, and push your limits.
Whether you’re a highly experienced yogi or brand new to the practice, doing yoga at the Yoga Barn is an experience of a lifetime. Every hour there are different types and levels of yoga classes set in a beautiful wooden “barn” that looks more like a temple. The environment is full of interesting people from all over the world learning yoga. There’s also a vegetarian restaurant called Garden Kafe that serves delicious and reasonably priced salads, homemade dips, guacamole, and all sorts of smoothies and juices.
Pro tip: The best classes to attend are the evening classes that start while the sun is still up and end at the magical time of sunset. As you are cooling down towards the end of the class, you’ll start hearing the night come alive, and watch the sun set until it’s dark out.
The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is the world’s largest coral reef system. The reef is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. It stretches over 1,400 miles and is so big that it can be seen from outer space.
Unfortunately, due to global warming, huge sections of the reef have died — however, large sections of the reef are still well and teeming with populations of tropical fish, endangered turtles, and sharks, rays, seahorses, and more.
Whether you’re surfing, snorkeling, shark cage diving, or anything else that gets you in the water, you can’t go wrong doing it at the Great Barrier Reef.
Pro tip: I haven’t actually been here yet, but I recommend going as soon as you can, to see it in all its splendor before global warming continues to takes its toll on the reef.
The Great Wall of China is one of the greatest architectural feats ever in history. It spans over 13,000 miles in multiple directions — about 5 times the length from East to West of the United States. There are multiple places to ascend the Great Wall, but the easiest is to take a taxi from Beijing, the capital city of China, to Badaling. Not only do you get to experience the Great Wall, but also since it’s so close to Beijing, you’ll be able to combine this trip with exploring the great city, culture, and food that come with a trip to China.
Pro tip: A trip to China has a million things to offer. On your way to the Great Wall, also make sure to plan enough time to visit some of the other attractions in Beijing, including the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, and the famous hutongs in Gulou.
Hutongs are narrow streets, almost like alleys, that were common passages through northern Chinese cities like Beijing. People used them from the 12th to the early 20th century to easily get from place to place by walking or biking. Since then, China has grown tremendously and now has huge highways and roads everywhere. Today, there are still some remnants of hutongs within Beijing that take you back in time. The alleyways are filled with residential homes and small shops, and give you a sense of warmth and nostalgia as you walk through. The best areas to visit the hutongs are in the Houhai and Gulou districts.
Pro tip: Visiting China can be stressful due to the cultural differences. The biggest thing you can do to prepare before going to China is to get a VPN (virtual private network) which allows you to connect to Facebook, Google, and other bare necessities that we use on a daily basis elsewhere in the world. Without a VPN, you’ll be limited only to websites that aren’t blocked by the great firewall of China. I recommend Astrill as one of the top VPNs that is built for use in China.
If you’re a ramen lover and haven’t been to Ichiran, then you haven’t lived your life yet. Ichiran is the home of the best ramen in the entire world. This is not an overstatement.
You sit down in a booth in front of a little window. Then you fill out your menu, choosing the level of spice in your broth, the type of meat, whether you want a soft boiled egg or other add-ons, and order a beer while you’re at it. Moments later, a man will open the window of your little booth and give you a giant bowl of the most incredible ramen ever. From that moment onwards, it’s just you, your beer, and your ramen — no other distractions, no worries, just you experiencing greatness.
Pro tip: This isn’t a great date spot for a few reasons. First of all, you sit in a little antisocial booth and eat your ramen alone, not at a table across from your friends or date. Secondly, the ramen is so good that you will undoubtedly ask for a refill, and then promptly scarf that down like a savage as well. Finally you’ll be in such a carb-coma that you will only be able to do one thing: go home and go to sleep extremely satisfied.
Kobe beef is the most expensive and highest quality beef in the world. Each flavourful bite literally melts in your mouth and tastes like heaven. The reason for this is kobe beef comes from a special strain of Japanese black cattle which has heavy marbling — or in other words, the meat is heavily intertwined with fat which creates an incredibly delicious texture and flavor. Some people even say that the cows are massaged and given beer.
The best place to experience this is in Kyoto where you can get an extremely good price for top-notch kobe beef. A $300 budget for two people will get you the meal of a lifetime with an amazing bottle of red wine to go along with your food.
Pro tip: Get a traditional Japanese summer kimono called a yukata and dress up. Japan is a place where ultra modern tech blends with age-old traditions. You’ll see plenty of people walking around in traditional yukata and you can buy one yourself to spend the day wandering Kyoto feeling like a local.
There’s something special about making pasta from scratch with your bare hands. You can do this anywhere, but taking a cooking class in Italy feels so much more authentic. The best part is that every type of pasta has its own way of being made, whether it be ravioli, linguine, tagliatelle, or farfalle. You can find numerous cooking classes on Airbnb Experiences or TripAdvisor, but one of my favorites is “handmade pasta with grandma” which you can find here: https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/55449
Pro tip: While you’re in Italy, you should also go truffle hunting, explore the Coliseum and the Vatican, and check out the Sistine Chapel. Mostly importantly though, if your stomach is ever not completely full of gelato, pasta, and pizza, then you’re doing it wrong.
Truffles, a type of fungus, are widely considered the most expensive food in the world. They are a rare delicacy that few people get to enjoy due to availability, quality, and price in most places around the world — except in Rome. If you’re in Rome, then you’re in luck.
Upon arriving in Rome, my Uber driver told me that most people gain at least a few kilos in just a week because of all the pasta, gelato, and pizza. That man was not lying. I went on a mission to find the best truffle restaurant in Rome and I’m pleased to share it with you all.
If you love pasta and wine and want to try the best damn truffles in the world on top of your pasta, then you’ll be in the right place. The atmosphere is authentic, the price is right, the chef is a warm heavyset Italian man who will show you his wine cellar and let you choose from hundreds of bottles of premium Italian wine. Put this on your bucket list right now and ask no more questions.
Pro tip: Don’t plan anything after this meal. You’ll be in a serious food coma. Well, maybe you can go grab some gelato down the street for dessert…
Disney World for adults.
That’s my one-sentence summary of Oktoberfest. Beer, giant pretzels, costumes, good vibes, and live music surround a carnival-like attraction. If you like all of those things, then this will probably be your heaven on earth.
Oktoberfest is held annually in Munich, Germany, where all of the major German breweries set up enormous tents and tourists from all over the world come with a singular goal: to get absolutely wasted and have a good time.
Pro tip: Contrary to popular belief, Oktoberfest is mostly in the last few weeks of September — it ends on the first Sunday of October. Book a table ahead of time with a few friends as well as an Airbnb before prices get too high.
The first things I think of when I hear the word “techno” are electronic beats and clubs packed with sweaty people on drugs. And now that I think about it, that’s pretty accurate. The key is that techno in Berlin is literally “the scene” and unlike anything I’d experienced in the USA.
Usually in American clubs, you get a variety of people showing off, getting bottle service, dressed in designer clothing, but the clubs in Berlin couldn’t be more different. In fact, the best way to describe it is that they are “pretentiously unpretentious.” People go to clubs wearing all black, put away their phones, and just enjoy the music. No drama, no assholes, no materialistic showing off, just people who love techno and want to get lost in the electronic beats.
Many of the clubs are in giant warehouses that have been rebuilt into multiple rooms with different world-class DJs in each one. You’ll find techno fanatics swaying to the beat, lost in trance.
Pro tip: Berghain is considered the most famous club in the world, and it’s right there in East Berlin. The entrance is highly exclusive — not in the sense that you have to be wealthy, famous, or whatever, but more so that you need to look the part. The secret to getting into this mega-rave where people often party nonstop for 72 hours is to not make a lot of noise while waiting in line, don’t stand out, don’t dress too fancy, do wear black, and look German.
Paris has a lot of great things — the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Louvre, Notre-Dame — but I’d argue that one of the most memorable things you can do is a tour of incredible wine, cheese, and baguettes. Walk around the beautiful streets of Paris until you find an artisanal shop where you can ask for a recommendation of wine and cheese and grab a baguette. Even better, bring a blanket and sit in front of the Eiffel Tower as you enjoy life as a Parisian.
Pro tip: Light some candles and put on Edith Piaf’s La Vie En Rose to bring yourself back in time to the 1950s.
Tenerife is a one of the Canary Islands just west of Morocco. Geographically, it is part of Africa and has beautiful weather and terrain, but politically, it’s part of Spain, so you also get to enjoy the amenities of a European country.
Mount Teide is an active volcano in the Canary Islands and also the highest point of all of Spain at 3,718 meters (12,198 ft). You can hike or, if that’s not your thing, you can take a tram up to the summit and stay the night in a cabin. The greatest reward is reaching the top and simply staring up into the sky — it’s a sight you’ll have never seen before. Due to Teide’s being an island far from any major city, there’s practically no light pollution, air pollution, or anything else obstructing your view of the cosmos. That’s why time and time again across many major publications Teide ranks among the top places in the world for stargazing.
In a small period of time at the top of Teide, I was able to see multiple shooting stars, constellations, planets, and more.
Pro tip: If you plan to hike up, make sure to pack enough water and food. There’s only one cabin to sleep at near the summit of Teide, and it isn’t especially comfortable. Rest up, and start early before the sun sets.
Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers in history. It’s said that he pretty much covered every single type of storyline through his dramas, tragedies, comedies, and histories. The Globe Theater was originally constructed in 1599, a place where Shakespeare’s productions could be performed to a variety of audiences ranging from groundlings (low class) to the aristocrats sitting towards the top of the theater. Shakespeare’s Globe was rebuilt after being burned down in 1613 and today a recreation sits just 230m away from its original location.
Oftentimes there will be a variety of productions happening at the Globe, and tickets can be as cheap as 5 GBP for a standing ticket as a “groundling.” If you want to go back in time and experience what it was like to be a commoner in the Elizabethan era, then grab yourself a cheap ticket and a lot of beer, and watch world-class Shakespearean performers share their art in a magical environment.
Pro tip: Even as a trained Shakespearean actor, sometimes I’ve had trouble understanding what’s going on if I don’t already know the story. There’s no shame in going on Wikipedia and reading the plot before seeing one of Shakespeare’s plays.
Edinburgh, Scotland, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Cobblestone roads that inspired JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley, castles, and more all reside within the center of the city. It’s also home to some of the most interesting ghost stories, including an “underground city” of vaults and passages where the poverty-stricken used to live. You’ll hear stories of Half-Hangit Maggie and Greyfriars Kirkyard where people were buried alive, and maybe even witness the ghosts of prisoners as you wander the Edinburgh Castle.
Pro tip: Ghost stories are spooky, but nothing makes a story better than taste testing a few of the best Scotch whiskies in the world at one of the many whisky tours.
First class is awesome — and it’s expensive. But guess what? I’ve never paid for a first-class international ticket. Instead, you can get a credit card that gives you reward points that you can transfer to popular airline carriers in exchange for first-class tickets.
Next time you have a long flight — the longer the better — you can book a first-class ticket. The best way to explain how amazing flying first-class internationally is is probably by saying that it takes all the dread out of flying and makes it an extremely pleasurable experience. You can sleep well, eat three-course meals, drink fancy wine and liquors, and never have to wait in line.
Treating yourself to luxury once in a while is an important experience. I grew up in a single parent family on welfare and never really had many “luxury” experiences until I got older. Having the opportunity to experience some of the finer things in life put a lot of things in perspective. The most important lesson came in two parts: having luxury is definitely amazing and can certainly make you happier, but it can also be a double-edged sword once you start taking those luxuries for granted and become accustomed to them. Perspective is important — you gotta treat yourself, but also remember to stay humble and grounded.
Pro tip: A while back Chase Sapphire Reserve had a program that offered 100,000 reward points if you got their card and spent a few thousand dollars within the first few months. Once you get the 100,000 points, you can easily transfer them to numerous airline carriers to redeem tickets. Usually a first-class international ticket via United and its partners will set you back around 70,000 points.
Public transit sucks in San Francisco, but luckily biking is a better and more adventurous way to get around anyway. Rent some bikes and tour the entire city of San Francisco through the parks, Chinatown, and Haight-Ashbury where the hippie movement started, and then head across the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to Sausalito where you can get some amazing food, wine, and gelato before taking a ferry back to San Francisco.
Pro tip: Fisherman’s Wharf is a great place to relax and check out the seals sunbathing. While you’re putting your feet up, be sure to grab a clam chowder bread bowl at Boudin’s and a giant loaded seafood Bloody Mary with shrimp and olives.
There are some pretty epic places so far on my bucket list, but at the end of the day, there’s no place like home. Madison, Wisconsin, is where I was born, and after being all over the world, nothing really compares to slamming a few pints of an incredible Wisconsin craft beer like Spotted Cow while stuffing your face with an American-sized portion of world-famous fried cheese curds. Wisconsin is the home of the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Milwaukee Bucks, and also some of the best beers and bar food in the world. If you want the all-American experience, Wisconsin is the spot.
Pro tip: Go to The Old Fashioned for amazing old fashioneds (the mixed drink), Bloody Marys, fried cheese curds, and other amazing bar food. The portions in Wisconsin are absolutely HUGE, so come prepared to eat. And if you’re still hungry, make sure to go to the best damn ice cream shop — The Chocolate Shoppe, where their slogan is “This isn’t low-fat or healthy in any way, but delicious in every way!”
Okay, I know this is kind of broad. But just like traveling the world is its own goal, learning a new skill is its own goal too.
Take a few moments to jot down anything that interests you, or something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, and then figure out how to do it. Whether your new skill involves art, crafts, cooking, athletics, programming, graphic design, interior design, writing — whatever it is, there are endless courses out there on the web, oftentimes for as low as $10, that can open your eyes to something you never thought you’d be able to learn.
Too many people think they have to go to school to learn something, or it’s too late, but the truth of the matter is that those are just excuses. Today, information is so accessible that there should be no reason why you can’t take up a new skill just by taking classes online for cheap (or even free).
Pro tip: Some of the best places to learn include EdX, Udemy, Coursera, and iTunes University.
Acting classes can be terrifying if you’re like most people and afraid of public speaking or performing in front of others. However, acting classes can be extremely rewarding and therapeutic at the same time. At the core of acting is the ability for an actor to remove their inhibitions and then live truthfully in the imaginary world of the script.
Beginner acting classes focus more than anything on listening, observing human behavior (and yourself), and not being afraid to look silly. Once you can get past this initial stage of overcoming self-consciousness and second-guessing yourself, then your true creativity will start to flow which allows you take on specific character roles truthfully. Acting is not only a great form of stress relief, but also an extremely beneficial way to learn more about yourself and other people.
Pro tip: I grew up as one of the shiest kids in my school. One day I decided I didn’t want to be so shy anymore and started taking theater classes. Those first theater classes (and additional classes over the years in Los Angeles at the Aaron Speiser Acting Studio, Upright Citizens Brigade, and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) helped propel my growth and social IQ more than anything. If you want to learn more about the key things I learned through my time as an actor, check out this article: https://medium.com/swlh/life-changing-lessons-i-learned-from-drama-school-and-acting-21d464106018
Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Today, it’s easier than ever to find movies, podcasts, and online courses that can help you quickly learn a new language. The best part about a new language is that it is really just the door to a completely new world of culture and experiences. Once you start learning a new language, you might find that one thing leads to another and in no time you’ll be living in another country, having new experiences, and maybe even finding a significant other that speaks your new language.
Pro tip: Coffee Break Mark (http://markpentleton.com/about-me/) has one of the best free podcasts that introduces you to a number of languages including French and Spanish. You can also easily find tutors from around the world who can teach you over Skype for as low as $8/hr whether you’re learning Chinese, Japanese, or almost any other language.
So much of our day-to-day lives involves interaction with technology, and for the foreseeable future, humans and technology will only continue to become more intertwined. Whether your goal is to actually make a career out of programming or just to have a basic understanding of how software programs and computer languages work, there are a number of courses out there that can teach you. As the demand for programmers increases each year, you can quickly turn this hobby into a hireable skillset.
Pro tip: Python is one of the easiest and most intuitive languages for beginners to learn while also remaining extremely versatile and functional. I recommend the book Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw as one of the best beginner books for learning to code in Python.
Morning journaling is one of the most common daily routines of successful people. History has shown that journaling has been an instrumental part of the lives of many successful people, like Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, and Tim Cook.
Why is journaling important? It allows you to empty your mind of thoughts and ideas and put them down on paper. It’s only possible to store so much information in your head, and once you have it down on paper, your mind is freed up to move on to other things like visualizing the next steps you need to take, or having creative breakthroughs.
Writing things down can also help you see what’s important and improve your goal-setting. Just as important as the practical aspects is the therapeutic aspect to journaling — oftentimes if something is bothering you, it’s relieving to write down how you feel. Setting it down on paper helps your mind let it go.
The most important part of morning journaling is to build a routine. Start with a 30-day challenge where you write 750 words a day. It can be random and free flowing, or you might naturally write with more structure. You can do this either longhand, in software like Evernote, or on a website like 750words.com.
Pro tip: Ask a group of friends to serve as your accountability partners and plan to do a group challenge of morning journaling every day. You can send proof to each other that you did your journaling and if someone misses a day, then they have to buy everyone dinner!
When I first learned about meditation, I imagined sitting figure four on the ground in a temple surrounded by other monks and burning incense. In reality, meditation can be done anywhere and last for as little as five minutes. Meditating is just an opportunity to clear your mind and take a deep breath before returning to the constant hustle and bustle of everyday life. Taking just a few minutes every day to reset leaves you feeling a little more clear, more relaxed, and more productive.
There are plenty of great apps that you can get to help facilitate your meditation, including the popular app Headspace.
Pro tip: Similar to any other 30-day challenge, accountability partners are one of the greatest keys to success. Ask some friends to do the challenge with you, and hold each other accountable by sharing proof that you completed a mediation session. First one to break the challenge buys everyone a gift or takes everyone out to dinner.
Call me biased because of my background as an actor, but reading some of the top Tony-Award winning plays has been one of the most high-impact learning experiences about the human condition I’ve ever had.
Plays are interesting because of the way they are structured and written: essentially, many plays contain scenes that emulate slices of real life. In other words, plays allow you, the reader, to peer inside the lives of others like a fly on the wall, better understand why conflicts exist, and ultimately learn to apply lessons learned to your own life.
In well-written plays, you get to the see the humor of everyday life, conflict, and more. You also get to see hidden ulterior motives, and how people try to get what they want through the words they say.
Pro tip: The top plays that I recommend reading if you want to dive deep into the human psyche are A Streetcar Named Desire, Fences by August Wilson, Death of a Salesman, Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee, and Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet.
Dance classes are a great way to meet new people — and also, of course, to learn how to dance! I know sometimes on the dance floor, I feel awkward and not sure what to do, especially among some of my friends who have professional dancing experience. Dancing is a lifelong skill that allows you to better connect to others, stay in shape, and have an amazing time at any social event.
Ultimately, whether your goal is to feel more confident on the dance floor, or to simply have a great time moving to the rhythm of some tunes, dance classes can be a great way to spend your time. If you’re not comfortable attending classes yet, you can also find videos on YouTube to teach you the basics.
Pro tip: Dancing is not only is a form of exercise, but it also can be extremely fun. There are numerous classes in your neighborhood, as well as bars, clubs, and Meetups that all have dance nights.
The global economy is run on business to business or business to consumer sales. Starting a business is the best way to understand the complex and intriguing world of how businesses operate, and lets you view the world in a different way, learning about the economy, profit and loss, and more. In addition, starting your own business doing something you’re interested in allows you autonomy in your life.
In the beginning, starting a business can be overwhelming because it seems so complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. The biggest obstacle that most people run into is getting too caught up in all the details and never even starting.
When I started my first business, I wasn’t even aware that I was actually “starting a business.” In fact, it didn’t occur to me until well after the fact when the business was fully operational and generating revenue.
In the beginning, I just focused on a skillset that I thought people would hire me for. I had some background with web development and learned something called “SEO” (which is short for search engine optimization). I asked around and got a few clients to pay me a little money in exchange for my services. Over time, I started to get pretty good at what I was doing and also became really busy, so the next step was hiring people and registering a business, and the rest was history. Today, I can truly say that I’m running a successful business and employ over 25 people.
Pro tip: The phrase “starting a business” is intimidating. Keep it simple to begin with — find a skillset or product that people want to exchange money for. Prove that you can make money and find a way to scale, and then you’ll be well underway to building a real business.
Joining a co-working community is a great opportunity to network with people who have a similar entrepreneurial spirit. Being around other people who are passionate and successful is a great way to grow yourself and give yourself the resources you need to accomplish your life goals.
Co-working spaces such as WeWork (which has offices in 72 cities) are great for getting out of your house, working in an energetic setting, and helping get you in a routine of having a place where you “do work.”
Today, more and more people work remotely at home or at coffee shops, but there’s something about being in an office that is meant for “work” that allows you to really zone in, get productive, and get a great routine without distractions.
Pro tip: There are amazing co-working spaces all over the world. One of the most famous co-working communities is in Ubud, Indonesia. It’s an extremely open community of digital nomads and entrepreneurs. Other co-working spaces worldwide such as WeWork and Factory in Berlin also offer great facilities at reasonable prices. WeWork provides free beer on tap as well as coffee, which can be great — you might find yourself actually saving money by joining a co-working space!
If you have something to say or to share with an audience about a specific topic, starting a podcast is a great way to build an audience as well as connect with other people interested in the same things you are. You might find that putting yourself and your content out there in the world can open up numerous doors that you may not have had otherwise.
The steps to starting a podcast are very simple: you need a microphone, a computer, and software like Spreaker to upload and distribute your podcast.
Pro tip: Building an audience takes time! In the beginning, just produce a lot of episodes, invite guests on, and practice. Reach out to to other podcast hosts of subjects you’re interested in and ask if there are any opportunities to co-host a podcast together. Podcast hosts are always looking for great guests to join and share cool stuff with their audiences, and if you have something interesting to offer, they’ll love to collaborate with you.
Setting a goal of publishing a book is a great way to get yourself into the habit of writing every day and working towards a bigger project. The process of writing is extremely rewarding, as you’ll be creating something new from just your imagination. You’ll actually be seeing yourself make visible progress towards a bigger project which is motivating. Whether you’re interested in writing fiction or nonfiction, just start writing! Publishing a book doesn’t have to be such a hassle as it was back when it wasn’t possible to self publish — with dozens of self-pub options, all you need is your keyboard and the internet.
Pro tip: Every writer knows that the hard part isn’t the writing itself, it’s actually the process of sitting down and starting. Plan to just write a sentence a day and you’ll find that once you get into the motion of writing, the book will quickly write itself.
Few people understand how much work and skill goes into filmmaking. It isn’t uncommon for Hollywood productions to have crews of over 100 people in different departments such as makeup, wardrobe, set design, directing, actors’ assistants, production assistants, catering, cinematography, and lighting.
Sure, you probably won’t have the chance to act in a major film or TV show anytime soon (unless you’re cast as a non-speaking extra), but there actually are plenty of opportunities to get your feet wet. Sign up for memberships on Actors Access and Casting Networks which will allow you to see auditions for all of the roles available nationwide both in bigger productions and smaller student films.
Pro tip: If you’re actually serious about becoming an actor and live in New York or Los Angeles, there are so many student films that are constantly looking for actors. It isn’t too difficult to get cast as these are usually just exercises for undergraduate or MFA directors and they don’t require you to be the next Tom Cruise.
Most people think that you need to look like a Greek god in order to become a model, but that’s a myth. Modeling can actually be a great way for anyone to make money, have fun, and get some nice photos taken.
There are two types of modeling: commercial and high fashion. Commercial modeling is where most of the money is, and also where most of the opportunity is. Everything from your standard TV commercials to the vast majority of print ads for non-high fashion brands involves commercial models. Commercial models come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, most of the time commercial casting agencies are looking for people who look like real people!
Fashion modeling is entirely its own world. Usually this is more of a profession and has much higher standards when it comes to physical looks and stature. Most of the time if you’re a male, the height requirements are somewhere around 6’1”-6’4” and for females it is around 5’8”-6’0”.
The good news is that if you just want to have a good time, commercial modeling is extremely easy to do and opportunities are around in numerous industries.
Pro tip: Find gigs on websites like Casting Networks — oftentimes you’ll be asked to either audition in person or send in pics. You’ll need a few things to get started: some professional headshots, a Casting Networks membership, and preferably a commercial agent who helps you find gigs and close deals.
Imagine being in an underwater world surrounded by fish, turtles, and beautiful coral reefs. For a moment, you forget about everything else and just focus on breathing and the magical environment around you. There’s no question that it can be scary to be 30 meters (almost 100 feet) underwater with the air tank on your back and the respirator in your mouth as your only lifeline. Finding a good instructor and getting certified is the best way to relax and understand that diving is actually very safe when done correctly and that there is nothing to worry about besides when your next dive-vacation will be!
Pro tip: Get diving certified in a warm place such as the Carribean or Southeast Asia (I suggest Thailand, Malaysia, or Bali). It’s much easier and more relaxing to learn how to dive in a nice tropical place!
Transport yourself into the magical world of Harry Potter for seven hours as you watch world-class actors perform live on stage in front of you. The Cursed Child is broken up into two 3.5 hour performances, with a break in between. Intense magical battles, dementors flying in from all angles out of the sky, and incredible special effects make this theater performance one of the best I’ve ever seen. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll never forget this experience.
Pro tip: London’s West End and New York City’s Broadway are two of the best spots to catch this stunning performance.
Wine tasting should be on your bucket list for a few obvious reasons.
I never quite appreciated wine and the work that goes into producing a delicious, flavorful glass until I went on a few wine tours in Sonoma, California. Today, wine tradition is as alive as ever with wine tastings and tours all over the world. Whether you’re in Spain, France, Italy, San Francisco, New Zealand, or anywhere with vineyards for that matter, get out and sample a lot of wine and learn about one of the oldest crafts in history.
Pro tip: If you’re new to wines and want to start building your palate up, start taste testing a new bottle of wine every week. There’s a great app called Vivino that lets you scan any bottle of wine and pull up real reviews from other wine-lovers. Vivino even has an option allowing you to scan an entire wine menu at a restaurant and rate each wine on a scale of 1-5 so you know exactly what to expect! Hint: the most expensive is rarely the highest rated.
Sometimes when you’re bogged down in work and the responsibilities of daily life, it’s easy to lose track of your social life. Other times, you might just want to meet new people and don’t want to always hang around the same friend group. Meetup.com is a great opportunity to meet more people who have similar interests as you.
As a rule of thumb, you should always put yourself in as many rooms as possible, which gives you the opportunity to grow and learn. Meetup is the medium that helps you do that.
Whether it’s a group for learning a new language, programming, or anything else, you’ll be surprised to find how many people out there share similar mindsets to you. Remember, you are the average of the five people closest to you, so if you find groups on Meetup of people who you want to be more like, then take the opportunity to spend time with them!
Pro tip: Meetups are great whether you’re traveling and want to meet more people in different countries or whether you want to join a new community back home and make new life-long friendships. Joining a book club, board game club, or entrepreneur group is a great place to start.
Most people have fallen out with friends over the years whether it was due to distance, a silly argument, or something else. As you get older, close friendships become more and more valuable as they are incredible investments of time and emotional energy.
If you have someone in your life that you used to be very close to but no longer talk to, I encourage you to think about why you had a falling out in the first place. Try to understand what happened from the perspective of the other person and try to be okay with being wrong. Even if you’re not, also recognize that people grow and change, and even the best people sometime let ego cause them to say stupid stuff and make mistakes. If the pros of the relationship outweigh the cons, then give that person a call to reconcile. You might find that the other person had also been feeling bad and also wanted to rekindle the friendship but didn’t have the courage to take the first step.
Pro tip: Life is short and close friendships are one of the most important contributors to happiness. There definitely are situations where cutting people out of your life can be extremely beneficial to your well-being, but oftentimes old friendships fizzle out for dumb reasons — sometimes you don’t even remember why you stopped talking in the first place. Make an effort to rekindle these friendships!
Maybe falling in love is a bit too much to begin with, but trying to date someone of a completely different culture can be rewarding in so many ways. You’ll get to experience different traditions, eat new types of food, see the world from a different perspective, learn a new language, and maybe even one day have beautiful mixed babies!
Dating someone from another culture presents numerous opportunities for self-growth that can only be experienced in very close relationships. Currently I’m in a long-term relationship with my girlfriend who is Serbian. We met in Beijing while she was studying at the university. Both of us are conversationally fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and we have lived all over the world together.
I’ve learned so much about Eastern European culture and food, while she’s had unique experiences hanging out with my all-American friends at their Wisconsin lakehouses — experiences that you can’t have as a tourist, but that instead require personal friends and connections!
Pro tip: When dating someone from a completely different culture, it’s important to be patient and understand that you might not always see eye to eye on certain topics. You might find your own worldview challenged and gain new perspectives.
If you find yourself being antisocial and spending a lot of time alone or playing video games, or if your friends are bored of doing the same thing every weekend and going to bars or clubs or just sitting around, learning how to play group board games together can be super fun. Board games are one of those things that can be a lifetime hobby that also allows you to spend more time with the people you love.
Many board games are highly strategic whether you’re competing against each other or are on the same team trying to solve a mission. Today, board games are making waves as they regain popularity among millennials who want to hang out with friends but don’t want to go out to dinners or fancy bars every time.
Pro tip: Settlers of Catan is a great multiplayer strategic board game. Grab a copy (you can get it online or at a local game shop) and plan a weekend with your friends cooking dinner together, having drinks, and playing Catan. It’s highly addictive and highly competitive — don’t say I didn’t warn you! Just remember, what happens in Catan stays in Catan. Don’t let it ruin your real-life friendships.
Back when you were kids, parents were just parents. But now that you’ve gotten a bit older, you might find that some of your friends’ parents are like… super cool people! Take the time when possible to not only spend time with your friends but also to chat with and get to know your friends’ parents more. It will be a treat for them to talk to you and learn about your life, especially since they’ve probably known you since you were a kid. In exchange, you get to engage with some really interesting people who are older and therefore wiser than you. Furthermore, because your friends’ parents have seen you grow up over the years, they might be able to offer you invaluable, personalized advice that others can’t.
Pro tip: Are there any friends who you used to always hang out with at their home? Any parents of friends that you were especially close with? Reach out and next time you’re in the area, stop by to say hi and chat.
Interview your parents — for what you might ask? There comes a point in everyone’s life where you realize that your parents are people too and not just authority figures telling you that you can’t stay out too late and need to get good grades. Next time you’re with your parents, sit down and interview them. Get to know what it was like for them growing up, how they met each other, what their hobbies, dreams, and aspirations were. I’d bet that you’ll find that your parents are way more interesting than you ever thought and you might even learn a thing or two from their experiences.
Personally, I learned about all the hardships my mother endured over a decade to get to where she is today. She was a single mother on welfare raising two kids (my brother and I) while attending nursing school one class at a time over a seven-year period. Her dream was to one day have a place of her own, a car of her own, a garden, and ultimately the freedom to live her own life rather than be tangled in a suffocating marriage. After over a decade of hard work, one day she found herself staring out from the window of her two-story home, looking over her beautiful garden and two cars. In her head, she could finally say, “I’ve made it.” After I heard my mother’s journey of clawing her way to success, I now have the confidence to tackle any situation and know that with resilience, I too can achieve my dreams.
Pro tip: You can just as easily call up your parents and tell them you’re researching for a project and jot down some questions. Start with simple questions, like where they were born, to get the conversation started, and then just let them talk.
Services like 23andme and Ancestry are great options to get your DNA sequenced and learn about your ethnic makeup. The one thing that most people don’t know is that you can take the raw data and submit it to a number of other services that give you in-depth scientific breakdowns based on your DNA. Some of these insights are disease related and will tell you what you’re prone to, while others are lifestyle insights. For example, one of the ones I got was that I am part of the 12% of the population that can lose weight doing any type of exercise and on any kind of diet. That’s pretty cool!
Pro tip: Promethease is my favorite for analyzing raw DNA data and it’s only $12.
A ketogenic diet is composed of high fat and low carbohydrates which forces your body into a ketogenic state where it burns fat instead of carbohydrates. As a result, some people experience less brain fog, more fat loss, and other results. Ketogenic diets require a strict eating plan and scheduling and may not be for everyone. At the end of the day, life is about trying new things to figure out what does and doesn’t work for you personally. A keto diet, or any specialized diet, gives you the opportunity to break out of old habits, change up your diet, and measure the impact that it makes on your body.
Pro tip: Check if you’re actually in ketosis by getting urine test strips. Depending on the person, it can take a few days to get fully into ketosis.
Alcohol is a helluva drug. It can be a great way to unwind after a long stressful day, or to loosen up if you’re planning on going out with all your friends to get wild and party. On the flip side, alcohol can also be extremely taxing on your physical and mental state. As you get older, you’ll realize that one long night of drinking can throw your entire body out of whack for multiple days. Moreover, consistent alcohol usage makes your face look puffy and contributes to bad skin and numerous other issues.
A 30-day challenge gives you enough time to actually measure the effects of abstaining on your body and mind. It also allows you enough time to form a habit and see if maybe you want to continue to be free of alcohol, or reduce the amount of alcohol you consume over the course of your life.
Pro tip: When you’re planning out your 30 days, do it at a strategic time when you won’t be tempted to drink at a friend’s birthday, major holiday celebrations, or other alcohol-driven events. Set yourself up to succeed!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most unique sports I’ve ever participated in, and it also has one of the most unique ways to build lifelong friendships I’ve ever seen: trying to choke each other out!
The best way to view Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is as physical chess. It is a sport revolving around grappling with the end goal of forcing the other person to submit, usually through chokeholds or armlocks. Your first reaction might be that people who practice these martial arts are tough guys who beat each other up, and therefore it can be intimidating.
However, what you’ll find is that some of the most confident, kind, and motivational people are jiu jitsu practitioners. The sport itself is so cerebral that it takes someone highly strategic in thought to master it. In addition, jiu jitsu is a highly respectful sport and peers always keep each other’s egos in check. People who are skilled at jiu jitsu have nothing to prove and therefore almost always welcome beginners with open arms.
Pro tip: Don’t be intimidated! Dive right in with a few trial classes at your local jiu jitsu gym. If you don’t like it, then you can stop going, but most people end up falling in love with the sport and becoming addicted. Jiu jitsu is the hardest martial art to obtain a black belt in, often taking as long as a decade even with consistent training.
5 AM sounds horrible if you’re a night person like me. But if you’re trying to get a massive head start on your day every day and grab some peaceful “me time” before everyone else wakes up, then a 5AM challenge might be a good choice for you. Having to wake up every day at 5AM means you also have to structure your day (and night!) better so you go to sleep earlier. This can be beneficial because sometimes one small change can actually have a bigger impact on your entire lifestyle for the better.
Pro tip: Honestly, I don’t really have any pro tips for this one because I’ve never really done it successfully. Just get your butt out of bed and try your best not to fall back asleep by getting as far away from your bed as possible.
The bucket list above is full of items from my own personal life and things that I’m interested in. Hopefully by reading through my personal bucket list, you can be inspired to add a few to your own. Keep in mind that a bucket list can be something that you continually add more and more to, so there doesn’t have to be a finite number of items on it. Add as many things that interest you as you want, and make sure to make visible progress by planning out which ones you want to focus on.
Personally, I know that by having a bucket list, I am holding myself accountable to writing down the things that are important to me. Accountability is the key to success, so go on… make your list and get going! Life is short, live it to your fullest 🙂
Your #1 Fan,