How to: Making a Bucket List 101


Krista Muscarella stands in the wave rock formation in Arizona.

Story by Kris Dreessen | Photo provided by Krista Muscarella ’12

Krista Muscarella ’12 spent this past Christmas on Ofu, a remote island of America Samoa. She and her friends shared a meal with a local family, sampled the local dish of coconut crab, and looked forward to 2019 surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.

With that, she is one adventure closer to completing another item on her bucket list — which includes visiting all 60 U.S. national parks.

She has ridden the “Swing at the Edge of the World” in the mountains of Ecuador, gone dog sledding in Alaska, and hiked to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru, among others.

A bucket list refers to experiences a person wants to have before they die; its name is taken from the 18th-century term for death, “kicking the bucket,” but Muscarella’s perspective is all about life.

“I want to take advantage of every moment. It’s making the most of life,” she says. “I want to explore different cultures and places without a ‘well, maybe someday’ philosophy. I put my goals and desires in writing so I can look at them, go back to them and motivate myself to take the steps needed to achieve them.”

Muscarella created her list two years ago when she moved to California to start her career as a school psychologist. “It was the first time I was on my own, and I knew anything was possible,” she says. “I asked myself, ‘What would I do if I could do absolutely anything?’”

Muscarella reviews the list and updates it often according to her current interests and goals. She includes goals that are more accessible, like riding in a hot air balloon. Ice diving with penguins in Antarctica will be a challenge. 

“Each place makes me feel lucky,” says Muscarella. “I’m constantly reminded that I am one person in the world and to embrace every opportunity as a learning experience.”

Muscarella focuses on travel, but the principles and basics of making a bucket list can apply to any life goals.

“I’m proud when I cross something off my list,” says Muscarella. “It’s such a sense of accomplishment.” 

Envisioning where we want to go, and making it happen, is also important mentally, she says. Achieving a goal boosts confidence, she says, and motivates us to challenge ourselves.

How to: Create a bucket (life) list

Krista Muscarella ’12 offers these thoughts on making your own list.

• Ask yourself, “What would I want to do, if I could do anything, with a finite amount of time to do it?” Think about everything that’s possible. Your desires don’t need to be outrageous: It’s what you want to do most.

• Include lofty goals and those that are more obtainable. You can achieve those that are more accessible to build your skills and confidence for the more challenging ones.

• Organize the list into manageable sections with long- and short-term goals. 

• Examine how your goals are related. Can you combine some, or tackle several items for the same result as a larger goal? 

• Make a plan. Consider what’s possible now and how to make others more accessible. Choose one or two and consider what you can or need to do to make it happen. This helps you move from dreaming to action.

• Write everything down, and include the planning —what works and what doesn’t. Use that knowledge to make the next goal easier. Cross each goal achieved off the list. Seeing your achievement is important!

• Revisit your list frequently. Delete and add experiences. Change it as you change. The list is a guide, not an end. 

Author: geneseoscene

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