Work Hard Play Hard: How to make your #BucketList ACTUALLY happen.

In today’s world, we are constantly being pulled in a thousand directions at once. We get sucked into a task, and every ping from our phones pulls us away from it. Before you know it, we are pulled into a neverending round of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and you can’t remember where you left your brain, much less what you were doing.

I get questions all the time from friends who genuinely want to know — how do I have so many things on my bucket list and how do I get them all done?!?  There are several simple answers to this: 1) priorities, 2) planning, and 3) focus.


This is such a simple concept, yet one of the most difficult for people to implement. Our society is one of instant gratification. People want the latest and greatest tech, and they don’t want to wait for it. They want the things that their friends have, so they don’t feel left out. This is not a judgment. I feel the same way.  It’s so hard not to keep up with the Joneses, and the Millers and the Smiths too. But in reality, look at their nice things and ask yourself “How often do they actually use that hot tub?” “How much is that car payment for that fancy new SUV?” Now, if you have a hot tub and an SUV and that works for you, great! But many people have this wishful attitude, thinking they want a different life with more adventure and it just feels unattainable. It doesn’t have to be that way! But you have to choose adventure. My husband has a crappy smartphone that came free with his plan and my iPad is so old it needs to nap more often than a septuagenarian. My furniture doesn’t match and our only gaming system is that Super NES Classic that came with all the games preloaded so buying more games wouldn’t even be an option. I can fit all of my clothes into 24 inches of closet space. These are limitations I choose, in order to be able to fund more experiences.

Besides financially, I prioritize my time as well. I try to be careful with the number of extra-curricular activities I put on my calendar. This is not easy.  There are a bajillion fun homeschool classes, field trips, and outings I want to do. But I simply can’t do them all. Not only do all those things cost money, they also make me feel crazy. More breathing space = more room for adventure!

We were blessed to live in Germany for 3 years, and that gave us the opportunity to do many wonderful things. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with another military mom there. She lamented the fact that they were moving back to the US soon, and they hadn’t left Germany at all — and had barely even left the base! I asked her why, and she replied that they didn’t have time or money to go anywhere. Believe me when I say that your time and your money are two things that you control. So take control.


Achieving the items on a long and Pinterest-inspired bucket list takes planning. I approach nearly all of my travel with a lot of flexibility. Homeschooling affords us the ability to travel whenever we want. Like I mentioned in my post about saving money on family vacations, I plan our travel with flexible dates and even locations. I do lots of research to see what is cheap right now. Maybe I wanted to check off one item on my list, but a deal pops up for a different item. I seize every opportunity! If there are specific things you want to do, follow certain businesses on Facebook and wait for coupons or sales to pop up. This is how I checked off several items from my bucket list, like attending a learn-to-curl clinic and skydiving! Do the same with budget airlines and Groupon vacations.

Pull out your calendar and look at the next 6 or 12 months. Then look at your Bucket List (or WRITE ONE if you haven’t already!!) Start with one thing. What one thing can you realistically accomplish in the coming months? Schedule it in. Start researching. Make a plan.


Let’s take a moment to look at the way Jesus operated during his short time of active ministry. He wasn’t constantly switching gears like we do today. He was always ALL-IN: completely working or completely rejuvenating (through prayer, meditation, fasting, etc.) Like always, he sets the example for how we should live. Work hard. Rest hard. The Amish are a great example of how this looks in today’s world (only, of course, add in electricity!) They work their hands to the bone during the day — cooking, cleaning, farming, fixing, building, and caretaking. Then when evening sets, they rest. On the Sabbath, they rest. Look at your day objectively. It may feel like you are constantly working, but are you really? Or are you just doing snippets of work all day long so that the tasks seem neverending? Focused attention goes a long way to getting it all done effectively. What would happen if you would make a no-tech rule before 7 pm? Or if you made a playlist of motivating music and made a goal to work on a specific task until the music stopped? You’d get so much more done! If kid-terruptions are a problem, get them involved. Tell them they either help with the work or entertain themselves until your work hour is up. 

How does this help you with your bucket list? Well, many people feel like they don’t have time for money saving strategies (to afford some of the bucket list adventures) or the planning involved (in leading up to and actually doing them). Time management = freedom!


A few other things really help in achieving your goals:

~Start new traditions~ we celebrate our anniversary every year by checking off an item (or two or three). This is so much better in my opinion than gifts or dinner dates, and experiencing new things together strengthens our marriage too! This year, our kids even asked if we could do bucket list adventures in lieu of Christmas gifts. Score!

~Ask for help~ don’t be shy about asking friends or family to watch your kids. Don’t use a lack of babysitters as an excuse to never do anything. Many people are willing to help, you only need to ask. (And reciprocate, it erases the guilt!)

~Post pictures of your goals around your house~ seeing a picture of the Eiffel Tower reminds you of what you are looking forward to!

~Enlist a friend~ You don’t have to just do things with your husband or kids. If your hubby is not on board with something you want to do, take a friend instead! The fun is doubled when you bring someone along for the ride! (and, hellooooooo accountability!)

My List

I couldn’t write a post about achieving a Bucket List without sharing my own — I know somebody will ask anyway! I started this list when I was 16. It wasn’t called a bucket list back then. My sheet of notebook paper simply said “Things to do in my lifetime”.  I have added to it over the years. Many items are travel-related, because I love seeing new places, but many are simply life experiences and milestones, or new things to learn or try. This isn’t the whole list, but most of it. I have it about half checked-off (I’m around 55% “done”, but like I said, I add as fast as I check off!)

As you might have guessed, I store mine in my phone now. I moved it in there about a year ago, after I kept not having my notebook on me when I wanted to add something!

Tell me!

Comment below 👇 or click over to the Facebook discussion 📲 and weigh in– what items are on your bucket list?! I need more ideas, anyway!!

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