The 40 by 40 Project is written by Angie Teater, a New York-based interior designer & travel writer. The Project begins on Angie's 39th birthday (March 11, 2017) with only 365 days to accomplish everything on the list before turning big Four-Oh! 

Forty goals. One year. Endless possibilities.

How to Create a Bucket List

How to Create a Bucket List

Confession: I'm not a huge fan of the phrase "bucket list" - it carries a hint of mortality that gives me a little shiver. But it's also a term that sounds way better than the cheesy "resolution" or the boring "goals" so...bucket list it is!! 

My own must-do, list-making endeavor began with a typical question: "What do I want to do before I turn 40". Simple, right? Basic, right? Sure...until I started creating it. Here's what I learned about creating a Birthday Bucket List: 

1) Be True to Yourself

Choose things YOU want to do. Every single little bit of your bucket list should reflect who you are and/or who you want to become. If you don't want to jump out of a plane, then don't! If you dream of attending Comic Con dressed as a Superhero Alien Lizard? Do it!! Abandon the pressure of worrying about what others may think and follow your heart. 

2) Be Realistic

Dream big! Reach high! Challenge yourself! But also remember to set goals you can actually achieve. Figure out a realistic budget and decide how much time and money you want to spend. I know recognizing limitations is a huge downer but it also means you don't end up disappointed and frustrated. This is supposed to be fun, not soul crushing. 

3) Dig Deep

Consider including things that require you to dig deeper. Maybe that means acknowledging areas you want to improve or ways you could be a better overall human. Maybe it's just taking time to tell people you love them. For me, this meant recognizing how rarely I'm involved in charity work. I've always wanted to be. In theory. But I've never made it a priority (I say with my head hung low in shame) so on the list it went! Maybe you want to give more, love more, get involved in your community or tell each family member what they mean to you. On the list it goes!

4) Google. Then Google Some More

There are so many "things to do before you..." lists on the internet that it makes the head explode. People include crazy things, mundane bits, ridiculous feats, and "oh hell no" ideas but in the midst of it all, you may actually find a few that inspire you. I certainly did!  It wouldn't have dawned on me that "walking a meditation labyrinth" was a thing. But I read it on another list and something in me said Yes! I want to do that! And it became #17. Look for things that touch your emotions somehow. You feel a little spark. A little nudge. A little flicker of excitement. It's worth the google hunt!

5)  Enlist Help...Maybe

While brainstorming the things I wanted to do before turning 40 years old, I shot off countless emails, texts, and Facebook posts to recruit my army of participants. Yes, yes, I know asking friends/family for input is obvious but what isn't obvious? First admitting whether or not you are comfortable saying "no". I got some fabulous ideas from friends! And, ya know, some not so fabulous. Being able to say "nope" to things you don't actually want to do is key. So if you're someone who is pressured to craft a list around what others suggest, consider giving yourself permission to create alone. 

6) Embrace "Happy" Fear

There are many types of fear. The kind that protects you, the kind that limits you, the kind that accompanies the presence of a spider (ickkkkkkk!!!!), and what I like to call "happy" fear. Happy Fear is the sort that gives you butterflies, both the excited kind and the nervous kind. It's something that intrigues you but intimidates you. It's something you know, if tried, would probably feel empowering! I consider "happy fears" to be things like eating in a restaurant alone, traveling solo, or singing karaoke in public. Maybe speaking to a group or leading a book club. Perhaps finally asking for that raise. Or applying for that job. Or buying that plane ticket. Or painting your bedroom that bold color. Consider your "happy" fears and add a few to the bucketlist!

Let me hear from all my fellow Bucket Listers! What did you find important in creating your own lists? What would you do differently? 

And please, oh, please everyone share some fabulous things on your own list!! 





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