Bucket lists.

Are you familiar with the concept?

It’s a list of big, cool things you want to do before you die. It’s a 1-2-3-4 list of things you want to do, achieve and/or experience in life.  Pretty awesome, right?

Well, yes…and no.

Most items on people’s bucket lists are BIG. They’re things like:

  • Build a farmhouse on 20 acres of land
  • Walk the Great Wall in China
  • Go on an around-the-world trip
  • Earn a doctorate in a subject you’re passionate about
  • Meet Jimmy Fallon
  • Drive a car at 150mph+. (Just me on that one?)

Is it bad to have a Bucket List full of big, bad, beautiful things like these? No way. But they can leave you feeling very stuck.

Sometimes, the items on your Bucket List can be expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. Some things on those lists take months (if not years) of planning. You can wind up feeling gridlocked because you don’t have the resources to move forward on those big dreams right now.

At that point, a lot of people put their Bucket Lists aside for another day…and that’s the problem.

Your life is happening NOW — not when you have more money or time or qualifications or whatever you need to cross off your Bucket List items.

So how do you get moving when you don’t have the resources to chase your Bucket List?

That’s where the Experiment List comes in.

Related: The Experiment List [PODCAST]

The difference between Bucket Lists and Experiment Lists

In my new book Dream Job Redefined, I share a story about a Bucket List item for my wife Mel and me…

We’d like to go and take a cooking class in France. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. I could actually care less about the cooking class…but Mel (my bride) would like to take a cooking class in France…and I like my wife and I think it’d be fun to travel with her.

So that’s what we want to do, it’s a shared Bucket List dream.

But right now, we’ve got two kids who we’re gonna be putting through college soon. We’ve got busy work/travel schedules.  Life.  You know the drill.

As a result… we’ve got all of these reasons why going to a cooking class in France probably isn’t likely over the next couple of years.

Does that mean we should forget about it for a while? No way! We just needed to break it down and create an “Experiment List” version of that dream.

An Experiment List is filled with smaller, more attainable “experiments” — small but significant steps towards your big Bucket List dreams.

They’re opportunities for you to learn, to have fun and tap into your Bucket List goals, and to gain perspective on what you really enjoy.

How to break down your big dreams into experiments

To turn a Bucket List dream into an Experiment List item, ask yourself this question:

“What’s something small but significant I can do to experiment with this dream?”

What is one little step you can take — that won’t use up too many resources — to test out your Bucket List dream?

Related: Don’t Wait! See the World on a Small Budget

Here’s how Mel and I experimented with our French cooking dream…

There’s a great restaurant in my town that’s locally owned. The chef is French — a really cool guy who speaks in an accent, cooks traditional French food, the whole deal.

As luck would have it, this chef offers cooking classes where he teaches people how to prepare the special of the week. Each class is two hours long and you walk away knowing how to whip up a tasty French dish.

Bingo! It’s simple, relatively inexpensive, quick, and super cool.

It will help us have fun, take a step towards our big dream, and experiment to see whether we even like cooking French food. Think about it.  Mel and I might not dig cooking up crepes and other delicious concoctions. (not likely… but it could happen!)  So better to experience that realization a few miles from our house, instead of on the other side of the planet.

More importantly… it will give us the chance to have a small taste of the bigger dream.  So it’ll keep us motivated as we take more steps (set up a savings plan, research options in France and look for pants with an elastic waistband!)


That’s right. The goal of your Experiment List is to give yourself permission to start…right now.

So… today, think about one of your bigger dreams and ask yourself the question:

“What’s something small but significant I can do to experiment with this dream?”

You don’t have to make major shifts in your life to start chasing your big dreams. You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to feel stuck. Give yourself permission to experiment and have fun with this!

Inside my new book Dream Job Redefined, I dedicate an entire chapter to making an Experiment List for your career.

You’ll learn how to take small steps to zero in on your dream job. You’ll uncover the types of activities, roles, and industries that feel most meaningful to you and fill up your life. (…Among about a million other strategies to figure out your dream job.)

Click here to order Dream Job Redefined.

And hey… leave a comment and let me know about an “Experiment” you’re going to try?  Something small but significant that’ll help you get rolling towards a dream.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Mitch Matthews

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