Bucket list activity

by Kirsten Brink

You might have heard of the phrase "Bucket List" before. It's a way of talking about the things you want to do before you die. But did you know that it can also be used for any specific time period?

My partner Andrew and I are at a dynamic period in our life where one or both of us may be traveling a lot for work, we may have a call to evaluate moving to another city, and we are looking into starting our own business. And so, when I heard an interview of Ramit Sethi by Mel Robbins where the topic of a 10-year bucket list came up, where bucket list was used to say wish-list, I thought: “hmm, I don’t know for sure what my beloved wants to do in the next 10 years, but I am curious.”

This “Bucket List” activity helped us open up conversations about our dreams.


Step 1: Framing the Activity Think of this activity as asking your beloved "what can I support in the coming weeks/months/years?-- and thinking about what you want in that same time. This activity can be based on a specific chronological timeframe (this year, in the next 5 years, etc), or based on a more general phase of life. I find that framing this exercise with agreed upon boundaries really helped deepen our discussion. Some examples of framing your activity, that are not time bound, include:

Step 2: Self-Reflection This step is optional, but it is something to try. For myself, without this step I realized that my mind drew a blank when I thought about what I really want: my brain is not used to this line of thought. So, for example, when Andrew began talking about quitting his secure corporate job to start a business, I took time to reflect and journal about how I would feel about this decision. I reflected on the potential loss of freedom as we start our business, financial constraints, as well as the sense of adventure we will have. I want to support wholeheartedly my beloved -- so what are those hesitations that may prevent me from doing so? What conversations do we need to have?

Step 3: Dialogue in the Sandbox If you have not heard of a sandbox dialogue before, think of it as a ‘what-if’ dialogue. As a child, we could play pretend (I was a spy who was also a secret princess and drove racecars professionally!.) As an adult, it sometimes can be difficult to actively imagine all the possibilities. Think of a sandbox dialogue as a playground where anything goes, where the world will yield to your bidding. You might begin by simply imagining that time and money are no longer constraints and share what you would do if that was the case. A sandbox dialogue might start off with “Something I would like to do if money and time were available is ….. because…..”

Listen with the awareness that listening to your partner is a gift: you are literally learning about how to support your partner in their best life.

Dialogue about all those hopes and dreams without the need to hamper, correct, or problem-solve. Listen with the awareness that listening to your partner is a gift: you are literally learning about how to support your partner in their best life. Feel free to not only reflect what your partner says, but to occasionally ask questions and invite your partner to go deeper.

As you reflect on the sandbox activity, what are those things that surprised you? Do you want to know more about your partner’s point of view? Maybe something didn’t sit easily, and you want to uncover more about that part of the imaginative story.

Step 4: Refinement The sandbox activity may be all you want to do with this concept. Or you may want to ‘bookmark’ a specific area. For Andrew and I, we sandboxed, did some self-reflection, sandboxed again, went into problem solving to wrestle with some of the finances and logistics, and we had a dialogue to explore the feelings behind leaving a corporate job. I’m sure we will dig in deeper into this topic in the future. 


Learning about what your partner has in mind for their next phase of life is such a wonderful way to build your relationship’s emotional intimacy and mutual support. It also helped Andrew and I in goal alignment and increased our relationship satisfaction. 

We hope you have fun!