Skip the Resolutions: Live Your Best Life with a Bucket List



There’s something so hopeful and expectant about the New Year. Sometimes you have big, exciting plans for the next year; other times it’s just a year you’re eager to put behind you. That’s right – suck it, 2007!

Whether you believe in New Year’s resolutions or not, brace yourself. Here comes the time of year where everyone is talking about them. People are either making them or not, and they will often be forgotten in weeks.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do love making bucket lists.

The end of the year is a great time to think about where you’ve been and where you’d like to go in the future. This doesn’t have to mean in the literal sense of traveling. It could mean where you’d like your personal or professional journey to take you. Simply taking the time to assess what you have done and what you’d like to accomplish is a helpful exercise.

For my family, 2019 was all about survival.

We were barely keeping our head above water as we juggled a job loss, my transition from stay at home parent to full-time employee, and managing both while raising three children ages 5 and under. It was a long, stressful, exhausting year. But it also made us closer as a couple and as a family. We learned some tough lessons and figured out was really important to us. This year started out tough, but it has ended on a bright note. 

Now that we have all adjusted to two full time working parents, and with new career growth and progression for both my husband and I, we can begin to lean forward again. This past week, we have been discussing both short and long term goals for what we’d like to do, see, and accomplish in the next few years.

Whether you call it a bucket list, life goals, dream list or anything similar, here are some tips to help you plan out your adventures:

Tailor it for YOUR goals and desires:

The great thing about a bucket or goal list is that there is no ‘right’ answer. What works for one person may not be right for another. Many people have sky diving on their bucket list but for my husband, who’s afraid of heights, it’s an absolute no-go.

Make a list of things you’d like to see, do, or accomplish can be about anything! It can be comprised of things big, small, and everything in between. Take the time to sit and make a list or talk about it with a friend. This helps you think about what’s truly important to you or what ignites a spark of excitement. 

Mix it up:

The sky is the limit when it comes to making your list of things you’d like to do in your lifetime! While it can be fun to dream big and go for the fantastic for bucket lists, it doesn’t always have to be about shooting for the stars. Sometimes it can be about simply learning a new skill, taking a class, growing as a person, or participating in an experience. Traveling or jumping from a plane are exciting but exploring your town in new ways or accomplishing a fitness goal can be rewarding as well. Mix it up!

Keep it concrete:

“Travel the world” or “exercise every day” are vague and unrealistic goals. If you miss one day, you’ve already failed. However, if you put a specific place you want to visit, or a fitness goal (bench 100 pounds, or run a 5k) it’s more manageable. If you don’t want to spend the money, or have the money, to visit Japan, maybe seeing Mount Fiji shouldn’t be on the list.

Once you have your list compiled, take the time to go through and pick a few that you’d like to achieve in the coming year. Selecting 2-5 top choices can help you prioritize your actions or steps you need to take to check those items off your list. Visiting a foreign country might not be possible immediately, but maybe seeing a favorite artist perform is something you can accomplish. 

Take time to reflect:

The bucket list I made in my early 20s when I was a fresh-faced young enlisted Airman looks a lot different than my list now as a Reservist mom of three. A lot of it has been accomplished, but some of the items no longer hold appeal or have importance in my life.

Bucket lists are important because they give you an opportunity to think about what you have done and where you want to go. They can also represent a moment in time. You may have had items on your bucket list that you’ve accomplished or that once seemed important to you, but as you grow and change as a person are no longer as important.

I used to want to learn French, Italian and Spanish. Now I know how difficult it is to truly learn another language. With the help of Google translate, Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, Drops, and other language learning apps, I have been able to travel and navigate around many countries without having to be fluent in a language.

I also used to have skydiving on my list but I’ve flown in tons of planes and helicopters, been scuba diving and traveled around the world. Skydiving would still be a cool experience, but it’s no longer something I would regret if it never happened. Other goals have taken a higher priority.

Take a moment to think about your previous life goals or bucket list. You can reflect on and relive your accomplishments. Think about all the wonderful, amazing things you’ve done!

So tonight as my husband and I are celebrating our survival year and wrestling our littles to bed, we will carry on dreaming and planning for the future.

What do you want to DO in 2020? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? If you need any inspiration for putting together your own life wish list, visit and for great ideas big and small.


My 2020 bucket list:

Wear a bikini on the beach again

Take a family beach trip

Declutter house and organize my closet

Read a new book each month. (I joined a book club in November and have already met a great new group of friends.)

Attend live music events with my husband

Run a 5-10k race

Be pain-FREE!