woman writing down achievable goals for career bucket list

Why Everyone Should Have A Career Bucket List to Stay Focused

A bucket list? Yeah, I have that.


Most of us have drawn up a bucket list of some kind at some point in our lives, which comprise exciting endeavours, big dreams, and goals to achieve before a certain age, or… well before we die. From skydiving, writing a novel, to hiking Mount Everest. The possibilities are endless!


hands writing down bucket list


What about a CAREER bucket list?


As opposed to having a bucket list for traveling and unique experiences, most of us don’t create a focused list for something we devote a significant proportion of our lives to — our career. The list would revolve around things like acquiring a specific skill, joining a new profession, working abroad, or even earning a certain amount of money. It probably doesn’t involve swimming with dolphins in Hawaii.


In this day and age, the stakes and competition are sky-high, with many people constantly improving themselves to be more marketable and employable. In order to stay focused and achieve our dream career, everyone should have a career bucket list to become the best version of themselves.


1. Keeping Our Head In The Game

Coming up with a list of things we are passionate about serves as a constant reminder of why we do what we do. It helps to keep us focused and on track so that we can persevere until we reach our destination.


A study found that vividly describing one’s goals in writing is strongly associated with goal success. The people who vividly describe their goals are 1.2 – 1.4 times more likely to successfully achieve their goals than those who don’t! What an astounding difference just from writing your goals down.


Young female sitting with laptop on windowsill at home making career list


Most people would find it a hassle to write down their goals. While some may someday find themselves drifting aimlessly in a life that lacks purpose. Writing down your goals and plans can give you a clear direction and help you stay laser-focused.


I like to make mental notes and as time passes, I tend to forget what I wanted to accomplish. Writing or typing out a bucket list is something that helps people like me who have the memory of a goldfish, to strive for my goals.


2. Holding Ourselves Accountable For Our Own Goals

Let’s be real, the only people who truly care about our career are ourselves. It’s important to define what we want as it’ll build the foundation for all that we do.


Therefore, we can start by envisioning who we want to be, then set actionable and measurable goals that align with our vision. Having decided on an end goal for your career in your bucket list helps your mind to take your goal more seriously. You’ll even find yourself consciously (and subconsciously) taking smaller steps towards your goals.


woman listing down her future goals for career


I imagine it like setting a “deadline” for myself for my bucket list. I’m the CEO of procrastination and it often takes me forever to get something done, especially if there is no deadline. Having a career bucket list is like having a “deadline”, where I know I must get it done, by hook or by crook.


That way, your career bucket list will be the looming “deadline” that will hold you accountable for your professional goals.


3. Motivate And Excite Yourself

As someone who will be entering the working world soon, I am still “unjaded” and excited to navigate my professional life.


Perhaps, somewhere along the way, I would find myself on a lifelong career journey without a destination in sight. Would I look back and finally realize that I am not where I expected myself to be professional? Would I regret not taking more chances?


woman and man smiling and excited for work after discussion


Having a list of our deepest, darkest (professional) desires that we can look at once in a while, can help to add structure to our career path and stay determined. Having a career bucket list also helps you stay on track and feel motivated. As you go on in pursuit of your goals, you get to look back at them. Then, celebrate how far you have come. This inadvertently boosts your motivation and confidence, while ensuring that you layout more steps to make further progress.


4. How To Create A Career Bucket List And Use It

An often-cited study conducted by a psychology professor among men and women who are between the ages of 23 to 72 from across the globe and all walks of life. The participants were separated into 4 main groups: Those who just thought about their goals, those who wrote their goals down, those who wrote their goals down and shared their commitments with a friend, and those who did all of the aforementioned plus sending weekly report progress to a friend.


book with written list and details


The results? Only 43% of those who merely thought about their goals managed to accomplish their goals, or are halfway there. 62% of those wrote down their goals and shared them with a friend. They accomplished what they set out to do or are already halfway there.  Last but not least, you’ve probably guessed it: 76% of those who did everything and also sent weekly progress reports to a friend either accomplished their goals or were at least halfway there!


Everyone has a different definition of success, whether it is getting a Ph.D., leading a team, or retiring early. Ultimately, a career bucket list should be as detailed as possible, highly aspirational, and encompasses personal and professional growth.


How to create your own career bucket list? 

1. Select a method to keep your career bucket list 

Pick something that you can conveniently access, like your phone or laptop. If you’re more old school and prefer handwritten lists, a notebook is good too.


2. The world is your oyster

Don’t rely solely on your imagination, expand your horizons by asking or reading about how others learn and grow professionally.


woman writing down achievable things to reach


Depending on what your niche is, you can follow industry experts on LinkedIn, or watch videos on YouTube to learn what others do. You can even reach out to them to hear about their success journey. Moreover, also ask for some pointers to achieve your professional growth.


3. Review, Review, Review.

After gathering your bucket list, it is easy to lose sight of our goals if we don’t constantly remind ourselves of them. Therefore, review the list from time to time, and it might help you achieve things you never thought possible. If certain items on the list no longer resonate with your values or goals, it might be time to take them off.


4. Action

man climbing and putting into action

Try to be proactive and check off at least one item each year. Although it might seem daunting at first, consistency is the key to moving forward. If your dream doesn’t scare you even just a little, is it even worth chasing?



A career bucket list can move mountains for your professional development. Take risks, go beyond your comfort zone, and experiment. You can even consider sharing it with a close friend who would support and cheer you on! Our career does not deserve a life sentence of mediocrity. So, we should pursue our individual bucket lists before it’s too late. Let’s create a successful career that we can take pride in when we look back at it!


For further reading on career focus topics, check out these articles on How to Be Focused and Productive at Work So You Don’t Have to Bring Work Home and How I Carve Out The Perfect Morning Routine To Stay Focused While Working From Home.

Medical student, go-getter, and writer. Loves a good cup of coffee and slice of cake while conquering life's challenges.

Post a Comment

Close Bitnami banner