5 Tips for Making Your School Year Bucket List—and Making It All Happen

Whether you're a freshman who's dealing with the inner workings of high school for the very first time, or you're a senior about to head off into the real world, chances are that there are some big things you want to accomplish this school year.

We happen to think that the first step toward achieving your goals is to write them down. That's why having a bucket list of everything you want to accomplish during your school year is so essential to making it the most it can be. Of course, making that list is an effort in itself. Not sure where to start? We have some tips to make the process as easy as possible.

1. Brainstorm

Before you start actually making a list, just get all of your thoughts out on paper. Think about the things you want, no matter how small or how big, and just start jotting them down to see if they inspire any other ideas. Also think of qualities you want out of your life, like joy, fulfillment and satisfaction, and come up with some ideas that will get you closer to them. Don't add things just because you think you should do them by the end of high school. This should be a list of the things you dearly want. Whether you have 10 ideas at the end of this process or 100, you'll have a much better idea about the types of things you want to accomplish this school year, making the next steps so much easier.

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2. Start Small and Work Your Way Up

When you're making a list of goals, it's good to have a mix of things that you want to do but are small and easy to accomplish, and a list of bigger things that will take more time and effort. This can also be a smart way to prioritize your goals. Organize the list by difficulty—maybe the simple ones are just visiting a spot nearby that you've always wanted to see, or to try a restaurant that's always intrigued you—while the bigger ones will take a lot more work and perseverance, like learning to play a new instrument or writing 50,000 words of that novel you've always wanted to compose. Ticking smaller goals off the list will keep you feeling productive and accomplished as you work toward loftier ideas.


3. Set Realistic Expectations

While anyone can aspire to get straight A's, actually getting there is a different story altogether. If you're used to seeing mostly B's and C's on your report card, and you're already bogged down with homework and extracurriculars, setting your sights too high can actually set you up for failure and just cause a lot of stress and heartache in the process. If you're taking on more than ever this year, just maintaining your good grades is a worthy goal in itself. If you really want to push yourself, try starting with upping your scores by one grade level each. Then, if you have more years of high school ahead of you, try slowly working your way up to that 4.0 (or higher) GPA. Similarly, you're not going to become a master basketball player or violinist or poet in just one day. Take things one day at a time and set goals that won't have you tearing your hair out.

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4. Break Down the Bigger Goals

Anyone can put "Graduate with honors" on their bucket list, but unless you're actually turning that objective into smaller tasks that you can actually act on, it's likely to just remain three words on a piece of paper. When you're working toward something huge like this, try making a separate goal sheet for it that breaks down how you actually want to get there. You can even consider this a mini bucket list. Maybe that means finishing all assigned homework, getting ahead on projects when they're assigned early, carving out dedicated study time for every test and also making sure you get enough sleep, so your body is always rested enough for the tasks at hand. Success looks different for everyone, but no one gets there without putting in at least a little effort.


5. Take Control of Your List

This may sound obvious, but if there's something on your list that isn't entirely up to you to accomplish, take it off of there. For example, "Get asked to homecoming" takes the agency out of your own hands and puts it in someone else's. That's not what your bucket list should be about, and when you start missing out on things on your list because it wasn't in your hands, the rest of the list can start to fall apart. Instead, something like "Have lots of fun with my friends at homecoming" puts the ball in your own court. Whether you go is up to you, and you don't have to worry about someone else derailing your entire bucket list.

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Need a tiny push in the right direction? Click HERE for some ideas of things to do with your BFFs before graduation.