The Hollywood movie The Bucket List has inspired many to start writing that ultimate list of experiences, places to visit, things to learn and people to meet before judgement day.

The film, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two terminally ill men fresh from a hospital cancer ward, who embark on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die, was an entertaining take on the relatively modern phenomenon known as ‘the bucket list’.

While its origins are uncertain, some believe the idea was inspired from the old saying ‘to kick the bucket’.

Its popularity may also be put down to having no barrier to travelling to the most exotic of places thanks to competitive airfares and easy access to information and ideas about those places, where to stay and what to do there.

At your stage of life you may also have more of a disposable income or retirement savings than your parents or grandparents did, so you are in a better position, financially, to indulge yourself.

The bucket list idea has not only spawned some popular films, but also a slew of travel and information sites, specifically targeted at helping you decide which destinations or experiences you would like to round out your list.

60-year old ex-business owner Judy Bailey made a bucket list when she retired and has slowly managed to tick off a few of those goals.

“For me, travel was the thing. I had not travelled in my younger days. I had grand ideas of a world cruise and finally, two years ago, my husband Terry and I made it happen. It was the trip of a lifetime and if I hadn’t written it down and plotted it, it may not have happened,” she says.

Bucket lists are your own personal guideline to self-improvement. They need not be about difficult feats like scaling a mountain or skiing in the Swiss Alps, nor do they have to be about exotic destinations. They can be something you do in your own backyard - literally.

However travel has been shown in US studies to have some tremendous physical benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease and attacks and increasing intellectual functioning for people over a certain age.

You may want to start your bucket list with a simple task such as starting the first chapter of a memoir you’ve always wanted to write; to read a certain book or to create a veggie patch. It may be about learning more about cooking Asian food, a new language or even to take up tai chi or meditation.

If you don’t yet have a bucket list, here are some simple steps to getting one started:

1.  Prepare
Invest in a sturdy notepad specifically for this purpose. Having a hard copy of your bucket list is vital.

2. Plan your list
Look for ideas, collaborate with friends.

3. Start with a first draft
Write any ideas down no matter how outlandish or ridiculous they may seem. This step is all about awakening your creativity, getting ideas from your imagination on to the page.

4. Refine list
Now that you have some foundation, it’s time to cull all those ‘crazy’ ideas and strip back to the more realistic, attainable ones that you can see yourself achieving. This step can be tricky, but it’s important. You may include and/or collaborate with your friends in an item if it’s difficult.

5. Start small
don't go booking that round-the-world plane ticket just yet. Start with a small experience that you can achieve today. This will give you a sense of satisfaction and spur you on to continue.

6. Be alert to new ideas
Get into the habit of looking and finding ideas from everywhere, from TV, movies, books, posters, talking with friends.

Remember it’s important to complete tasks as well as add them. A long list with few items ticked off is not encouraging.

Always remember, a bucket list is not about racing to tick everything off the list before one dies, it’s about concentrating on each experience and finding meaning in that, not the list itself. It only exists to give shape and direction to your desire to live life to the fullest!

So go forth and start planning to have fun and improve yourself at the same time.

Here are some online resources to help inspire your bucket list: