Using a bucket list to enhance your relationships!

My wise older sister, who is happily married with 3 children, gave me some advice a few months ago. She told me that when looking for the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, two things matter the most. The person must be a kind person, and our goals have to be significantly similar so that we can share them and work on them together. When I first heard these words, it reaffirmed what I have known all along, she’s brilliant!

The idea of the bucket list, which is like the gotta get goals list that so many of us participated in writing months ago, is not a new one at all. In fact, I just got back from watching The Bucket List, a movie staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, in which the pair team up to complete their very own bucket list.

I’m hoping that unlike the movie, most of the people here are not quite ready to kick the bucket and aren’t reading this on their death bed. I still think it’s important to have a bucket list that is time sensitive, except I suggest using this year as the deadline, and not the end of your life.

Having a partner to do the bucket list with you is an absolutely amazing way to strengthen a bond, forging what could be a life long friendship. Not only will you share the experience of persevering and meeting your goals, but you’ll gain some great memories in the process.

The number one most important thing about having an accomplice join you on your bucket list adventures is that you’ll have something to look forward to together. In fact, looking forward to something is a unique human ability that is also known as hope.

The reason why having a mutual bucket list, aside from your own personal bucket list is important is quite fundamental. When you share a mutual goal, your daily conversations will be geared toward the future goal, and toward the current steps necessary to accomplish this goal. Gossip, complaining, and other futile conversation will take a back seat, as you plan and work toward achieving your goals.

What a bucket list can do for your relationship is make you a team in the game of life. On the same team, your synergy will fuel and strengthen not only your efforts, but your friendship as well. This works doubly for romantic relationships.

Creating A Bucket List

  1. Remember that you’re a team. You will have equal input on what will go into the bucket list in order to make it fair and enjoyable for both parties involved. Either pick all items that are mutually enjoyable, or divide individually enjoyable items equally. This way you can do things for the sake of your partner, but have them do the same in return.
  2. Brain storm categories. Sit down with your pen and paper, or laptop as we did, and make a list of categories to fill your bucket list with. For example, some of the categories we started to think of today were travel, fun, dining, and personal development.
  3. Brain storm specifics. After making up our first four initial categories we started to populate them. Just to give you a quick scenario, here is an abridged version of some of the things we want to accomplish for 2008 together.
    1. Travel
      1. Kiev/Israel/Riga and (Italy or France)
    2. Fun
      1. Carriage ride in central park
      2. Sky diving
    3. Dining
      1. French Restaurant (Brooklyn Heights)
      2. Max Brenner (Triple Date)
      3. Sawa (Pier Village)
      4. Moracan Food (NYC)
    4. Personal Development
      1. Do 13 week Benjamin Franklin challenge together.
      2. Make personal development videos
      3. Start a personal development club at school.
  4. Let it sit for awhile. It’s important that after creating a bucket list, you walk away from it and let it sit for awhile. This will give your mind a chance to get excited about it, and come back to it with a fresh head.
  5. Get a realistic game plan. On one hand, you want to think in practical terms as far as scheduling and budget. On the other hand, you want to pretend that this is your last chance to accomplish your dreams. In fact, this pretending isn’t all that impractical, because if you don’t do it now (it’s always now), than you’ll likely never do it.

Keep in mind that a bucket list can be done alone, with a significant other, and with a friend. You can have multiple bucket lists running at the same time, so don’t limit yourself. Each item on your bucket list could be:

  • something you’ve always wanted to do
  • a fun adventure
  • something you want to say you did before you died
  • something that adds to the depth of your character and makes you a more interesting person
  • or anything else you want to do.

A bucket list is not something you want to limit yourself in, so shoot for the stars. You want to completely go out of your comfort zone with this exercise, but still set goals that are attainable for you. If you truly believe that the moon is attainable for you this year, than put it on your list and start dialing NASA.

Don’t put off things you can do this year until the next. Next year you’ll think of adventures that are different and even more fun.

Who is going to be your bucket list partner? What’s on your bucket list?

Posted by in Goal Setting, Relationships | January 16, 2008 | Digg | | Stumble | Print | 17 comments

  • Alex Blackwell

    Alex – what a great use for a Bucket List. Thanks for shaing!

    • Alex Shalman

      You got it Alex! Let me know if you and the Mrs. decide to make a bucket list.

  • Anna

    i like 🙂

    • Alex Shalman

      I’m glad. The actual bucket list we made is huge.

      Me and you should make a bucket list as well. Since our favorite place to eat by school is the Thai place, I propose we go to the best Thai place in NYC.

  • Todd Goldfarb

    Great stuff Al, thanks for sharing this….love these kind of articles!

    • Alex Shalman

      You got it Todd. There will be more, just for you. =)

  • Edward Mills

    Great post Alex. I’ve got my personal bucket list (still growing) but I hadn’t thought about creating one with my wife. Excellent idea!

    • Alex Shalman

      Perhaps you don’t have an official piece of paper that says bucket list on it, but surely you have mutual goals that you work on together in your relationship. Yes?

      • Edward Mills

        Yes. That’s very true. And… there is something very powerful to the idea of sitting down and creating our “life list” if you will. We’ve set some common goals and intentions. But this feels different. We’re taking a play day tomorrow. Maybe we’ll start working on this. If we do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

        • Alex Shalman

          I think it’s adorable that you guys have play dates. Definitely bring a pen and paper with you and do this. Dream together.

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  • Joseph


    What is the 13-week Ben Franklin Challenge?

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