Do you have a learning bucket list? If not, today is the day to start one.

Research shows that people who create bucket lists are more likely to accomplish their goals and feel as though they have had meaning in their lives. When you write down what you want to do, it makes you more committed. Every experience you cross off your list makes your life more satisfying.

Most of us are familiar with to-do bucket lists, such as trying Indian food or traveling to Europe. I want you to try a new kind of bucket list, centered around the idea of learning something new, be it a new skill, ability, or something else. 

In this video, I want to teach you the steps you can do right now to create your very own learning bucket list. Check it out:

7 Steps to Create a Learning Bucket List 

#1 Observe your mindset 

Carol Dweck found that those who are wired to learn, succeed more. And further, our brains are in constant flux when we learn. This happens throughout our lifetime. Here’s what she found:

“In [her] research, in collaboration with my graduate students, we have shown that what students believe about their brains — whether they see their intelligence as something that’s fixed or something that can grow and change — has profound effects on their motivation, learning, and school achievement.”

Dweck goes on to describe individuals who have a fear of change and individuals who embrace and seek change as living in “different psychological worlds.” In the former, change can cause devastating setbacks, and in the latter, challenges are relished and the individuals will persevere in the face of change.

This is the main difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, intelligence is believed to be fixed, that each person has a certain amount of it and that’s that. In a growth mindset, however, the belief is that intelligence is ever-growing, ever-changing–a potential that can be realized through learning.

#2 Dreamstorm

Ever heard of brainstorming? This step is all about dreamstorming.

Get out a pen and paper and start creating your learning bucket list by doing a combination of dreaming and brainstorming. Set aside at least fifteen minutes to put all of your ideas into writing. The key is to let your mind be as free as possible and put down very idea. In five, ten, twenty years, what do you want to learn how to do? It doesn’t matter how crazy, idealistic, risky, whatever, the ideas sound like. If you want to come up with a great list, research shows you you need to let yourself have fun and ignore limitations so your ideas flow freely.

Need some help? Here are some fun learning bucket list ideas for inspiration:

  • Start a tea or herb garden 
  • Learn how to make homemade pasta
  • Study the basics of a new language 
  • Learn the trapeze
  • Teach yourself how to make electronic music 
  • Learn the art and finesse of making sushi (yum!) 
  • Become informed on healthcare or other governmental initiatives
  • Learn a new sport like cross-country skiing, kayaking or soccer
  • Learn hip hop
  • Take a massage class
  • Learn how to do aromatherapy
  • Learn how to write a book
  • Learn self-defense
  • Learn how to be a master conversationalist
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument
  • Learn how to cliff dive
  • There are 575 ideas on this learning bucket list if you want even more inspiration! 

#3 Find a Learning Partner 

If your learning goal is outside of your comfort zone, it’s easy to let your worries get the best of you and keep you pushing it off for another time. The simple and fun solution to avoid this is to choose a learning partner with whom you can conquer your learning bucket. Research shows having someone commit to holding you accountable increases your likelihood of success to ninety-five percent. 

This can be a partner, an adventurous friend, a family member — anyone who you enjoy spending time with. Have them brainstorm ideas with you for your learning bucket list, or compare your individual lists to see where you share similarities. Don’t worry if all of your ideas aren’t the same. The accountability effect is still powerful if you opt to complete some of the items individually, while encouraging each other. You also can reach out to friends who already have acquired the skill you’re looking to ask for recommendations on books and resources to start your learning journey.

#4 Prioritize your list

Next, it’s time to break up your list by time. This is crucial. Because, otherwise, your list might sit in a drawer or on your computer without ever getting acted upon. Go through each of the items on your list and sort them by excitement and timing. Start with the ones you’re most excited about and the ones that may require special timing. For example, I learned how to plant a tea garden in spring so everything was blooming by summer. 

Here are the categories you can consider using:

  • Summer Learning Bucket List: Are there new skills that are great for the summer because of the weather or because you can get time off?
  • 20s/30s/40s Bucket List: What do you want to learn before you hit your next birthday milestone?
  • 2018/2019/2020 etc. Year List: Brainstorm what bucket list items you want to complete in a certain year.

Don’t wait until your time period is coming up to begin working toward your goal. To complete big items such as learning a new language, you may need to begin planning years in advance if you also plan to incorporate traveling or living abroad. 

#5 Learning Goals –> Life Goals

Have you thought about what you might have to learn in order to complete your big life goals? Do you have a bucket list? I created the Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Bucket List and found that many of our readers had learning goals tied to their life goals. For example, living abroad seems to be an item on most people’s bucket lists — does that also mean you might like to learn a little of the language of the location? If you want to travel around Italy or live in Greece might it also be fun to pick up a greek primer or go to a local Italian class? In addition to creating your learning bucket list, think about your big life bucket list and see if there are learning goals you can tie into your life goals.

#6 Deep Learning

Learning about something is not learning how to do something. Learning about something is what I call curiosity learning. This is when you are learning something that stays in your head — you don’t put it into practice or try to develop long term changes. I think the best kinds of learning bucket lists aim for deep learning — this is when you really master a skill. You have to find the right teachers, classes and schools. I like to think about learning on a few different levels. Look at the following learning levels and decide what level you want to get to for each of the items on your learning bucket list.

  • Dabbler: You read an article, check out a book or watch a YouTube video.
  • Practitioner: Maybe you take an evening class, you sign up for a group practice session or you set out to practice on your own. You begin to put what you have learned into practice with real life adoption, discussing your new ideas with friends and even making some commitments to exercise your skill with others.
  • Master: This is when you get a certification, go back to school, do a month long course and try to adopt a new skillset completely. Over time the skill becomes an ingrained part of you.
  • Teacher: The ultimate level is when you become so good at something you could actually teach it. 

I learned these 4 levels by accident watching our own students go through our people skills curriculum. Here’s an example for the Science of People.

  • Dabbler: If you read our blog or subscribe to our YouTube channel you are a dabbler. This is a great way to stay informed — reading the latest science tips and watching our tutorials for updates and quick people skills hacks.
  • Practitioner: If you read Captivate our took our free conversation course then you are a practitioner. You are taking our skills and putting them into action with your interactions and conversations.
  • Master: If you have enrolled in People School, we consider you a master level learner. This is because you have moved passed the beginner tips to learn the advanced people science and incorporate it into your to do list, career advancement and relationships.
  • Teacher: A few of our students love the science so much that they want to teach it as a certified Science of People body language trainer. This is our train the trainer program where we teach you how to teach people skills and body language to others. 

Where do you want to take the skills on your learning bucket list? Do you just want to dabble in Italian and be able to say a few words? Do you want to be able to get around Italy easily and be a master? Or do you want to be so fluent you could marry an Italian and teach a class? Set your sights from the start.

#7 Find Your Guru

Whether you just want to dabble in a new skill with a book or two or want to become a master you should find someone who inspires you and teaches the way you learn. Some people learn better by watching videos, other’s like to have a book to highlight. First, think about which method you prefer. Do you like reading, watching or interacting? Second, think about what style you like best. Do you like the academic approach and find the traditional school model most comfortable? Great! You might want to register for a class at a local college. Or do you need a little more entertainment for your learning? You would not want to learn cooking in a local college, but rather you might want to sign-up at Sur La Table and make a fun date night out of it. Here are some ideas for finding your Guru:

  • Your local college — Look at all of your local community colleges and ask for their course catalogue. Anything intrigue you?
  • Your local library — Librarians know a lot about local activities. Check out the library bulletin board and ask the librarian for ideas and suggestions.
  • Search YouTube — Do you like online learning? Search YouTube for your favorite topic and then sort the video by view count. This can help you find popular videos and the best of the best teachers.
  • Local organizations — Is there a local YMCA, event center, club that has classes open to the public?
  • Search Amazon — Books are a great way to test out a guru. I wrote Captivate to find my ideal students and so they could find me. Go to Amazon and type in the skill you want to learn + book or + beginner. Then you can sort the results by 5 star reviews or popularity. This helps you crowdsource the best books and gurus.
  • Yelp — These days Yelp is for waaay more than just restaurants. You can find reviews of teachers and classes in most cities on Yelp. You can get ratings for language tutors, classes and more.
  • Online courses — In Google, type the skill you want to learn + “online course” to browse what online course offerings are out there.  Online courses can be a great way to learn if you want more than a book, but do not want to commit to a semester of an entire course. For example, when I search “Cake decorating online course” I get taken to a great looking website called My Cake School. Who knew!? When you search “People Skills online course” you get taken to our courses. Woohoo! Thank you Google!

Find your favorite guru and try to find your favorite fellow students. The more you like your learning support, the more you will learn.

Learn on!

To your success,

Vanessa

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and human behavioral investigator in our lab.

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