summer bucket list

The Hidden Leader’s Ultimate Summer Bucket List

I absolutely love lists. I love to-do lists, to-read lists, to-dream lists. There is something particularly appealing about “bucket lists.” They have a meaningful excitement to them that reminds us that time is finite. Because the summer months are especially fleeting, I write a bucket list every year for my family. I post it right on my fridge on Memorial Day.

Lists like this help us focus on the things that matter. For my family, it’s watching sunsets and staying up late to see rocket launches. Camping in our backyard, spontaneous road trips, and lots of ice cream and sushi. Any list-lover will tell you that time is everything—use it wisely.

Right now, summer stretches before you in all of its finite glory. And if you haven’t read Kylene Beers’ beautiful letter to teachers to go ahead and embrace their truest self this summer, then read that first. It’s healing.

Then, recharge your momentum and find your hidden leader in the next two months. There is nothing extraordinary on this list. I have found that the most meaningful experiences challenge and teach us in the simplest of ways.

1. Choose to be imperfect.

If you toss and turn at night, replaying conversations and wishing you could redo a part of your day, then you will be pleasantly surprised to know that you are not alone. Even the most confident leaders fear they said or did the wrong thing.

When you fall short this summer, acknowledge the discomfort, and move on. Embrace imperfection by fully accepting your story reel each day, bloopers and all. Don’t waste time trying to edit your mistakes; more forward instead. Start by saying to yourself, “That didn’t go as planned. Let’s see what happens next.”

2.  Focus on joy.

There is just not enough of this. Take time this summer to find out what exactly brings you joy—and what takes it away.

3. Get strategic about something you care about.

There is never going to be a perfect time to take action. Start now. Choose one goal that is deeply important to you and set a plan. Truly commit by asking these two critical questions:

  • Why do I want this?
  • What is the very first thing I have to do to get there?

4.  Read

Read to reset your compass. Books remind us what matters. Start with our summer book list or revisit an old favorite that inspires you just by running your fingers over the worn binding.

Rediscover picture books to gain new perspective on leadership and the kind of leader you want to be. Read Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. Learn what it means to truly embrace imperfection from Molly Lou Melon: a clumsy, buck-toothed, bullied child who doesn’t let anyone shake her belief in herself.

5.  Do one thing that scares you.

Do you have a chicken list? Move at least one thing from that list to your summer bucket agenda. In Beers’ letter to teachers, she tells us to “Find something you can’t do and try. Try and fail. And remember how that feels.”

The other important thing about failing is that you create stories in the process. Leaders need stories, more than anything, to convince others that they have been where others have been. Experience struggle this summer, and be ready to share what it feels like when you are encouraging others to jump into the arena.

6.  Find a new way to manage stress.

It’s impossible to tackle the biggest challenges when stress takes over. Take time this summer to really notice how you respond to stress and make a point to change your reaction. Resolve to keep this in place beyond the summer. Don’t allow “feeling stressed” to become your normal.

7.  Write another bucket list for the upcoming year.

The interesting thing about bucket lists is that it’s not really about what’s on the paper. It’s the idea of looking forward. The compelling reason to get up and lead, even when you feel uninspired or when making progress seems daunting. As you prepare for a new school year, go beyond your usual to-do, to-make, and to-plan lists. Write one more list. Because what you are really writing is your story. Make the chapters matter. 

Comment and tell us what is on your own summer bucket list. How will you find your hidden leader this summer?



I am a lifelong educator on a mission to start believing in myself. I write to inspire others to abandon perfection and lead anyway. I am attempting this daily at home as a mom with three toddlers in Berlin, Maryland.



27 Comments on The Hidden Leader’s Ultimate Summer Bucket List

JoAnna said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I enjoyed this post, the tips are well thought out and have reminded me of some of the things I used to do to manage stress and refocus my thoughts. Thanks for the reminder!!

Rebecca Swenor said : Guest Report 8 months ago

This hidden leaders ultimate summer bucket list is awesome. I would have never thought to do a chicken list or even a summer bucket list. Thanks for sharing the information.

Peachy said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I think I should start making a "chicken list" and do things on it one by one. I think it would be good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes.

Ali said : administrator Report 8 months ago

Katja, I'm glad you feel joy is so important. I need to work on concentrating on joy--everyday.

Katja said : Guest Report 8 months ago

This bucket list could've had just one point: "concentrate on joy". Have joy in your heart and everything else will follow. Katja xxx

Jackie said : Guest Report 8 months ago

This is such an amazing list. These are done great recommendations and I have my own I'm try to get through.

Amanda Love said : Guest Report 8 months ago

A bucket list that helps you improve your life? That's the best kind. I think these are lovely ways to spend your free time during the summer.

Megan said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I love this post for so many reasons! It's a summer list that is out of the box. I've never heard of the word chicken list but I definitely have one!

David Elliott said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I never would have thought of making a yearly bucket list. I think it's kind of a cool idea to do one each year and have goals for the current year.

Shannon H. said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Great list! love the "chicken-list" idea to try an do something that scares ya. Need to find a way to better relieve stress myself.

Betty Boiron said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I also love lists! Your summer bucket list is good inspiration. Off to write my own now...

akamatra said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I love the idea of a chicken list. I must compile one immediatelly and start taking it apart little by little!

Leo T. Ly said : Guest Report 8 months ago

This list is simple and a great reminder. I have never created a bucket list before and I know for a fact that there are many things that I wanted to do. Thanks for the motivation, now I just need to keep my list short enough so I can at least try to accomplish some of the items on my list.

Kristy said : Guest Report 8 months ago

My bucket list includes vacationing and having fun with my two energetic and fun of the list is to watch the total solar eclipse!

Christine said : Guest Report 8 months ago

These are great ideas!! I especially like getting out of your comfort zone, as I make it a point to do that every few months in order to get to know myself better!

Ali said : administrator Report 8 months ago

What a beautiful comment. Yes, giving birth and being a mother is the epitome of embracing imperfection.

Ali said : administrator Report 8 months ago

Just think of the stories you could tell!

Ali said : administrator Report 8 months ago

What's on your summer reading list Amber? I'm always looking for new titles.

Ashvin said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I have sky diving on my list, but it keeps on dropping further down the list. It is definitely scary but I have to overcome that fear. I do not know if I would enjoy it though?

Amber said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I enjoy this list. I so agree with the reading one--I read often during the summer. I love it!

Beth Davidson said : Guest Report 8 months ago

My bucket list for this summer is really short - give birth. Lol. But really, that one thing will knock off about half of your list. It's scary, joyful, and stressful, and I know I'll be imperfect, just like always. :)

Jessica Taylor said : Guest Report 8 months ago

Reading is always on my bucket list! Nothing better than expanding your book collection!

corinne & kirsty said : Guest Report 8 months ago

This is a really nice list! I have got back into reading and I am loving it! My wallet not so much though I read 6 books in 3 weeks! xx corinne

GiGi Eats Celebrities said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I always focus on JOY! I never look at the negative aspects of life - that would make life feel excruciatingly tooooooo long!

Shannon said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I love that these aren't necessarily things to go out and do, but goals to personally work on yourself. This is a great list!

Ali said : administrator Report 8 months ago

Robin, I feel the same way about so many things. In fact, starting this blog was number one on my chicken list! I don't think we are ever truly ready.

robin rue said : Guest Report 8 months ago

I do have a chicken list, but I am not sure I am ready to do any of the things on it yet LOL. I am VERY chicken!!

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