Having a bucket list is a good thing for everyone to have but I believe it is absolutely essential as you enter retirement and critical if you’re already there. What is a bucket list? It’s a list of things you would like to do before you die or “kick the bucket”. While it might seem a little macabre to think of dying, we all have to realize that it’s going to happen to everyone. Wouldn’t it be great to live your retirement in such a way that you have a list of things you’re looking forward to doing and places to visit that you can’t wait to see.
Having a list for the sake of being able to check things off as you achieve them is not the bucket list I have in mind. While it might make sense to have a list, the items that are on it should be carefully thought out. The real joy of making the list is to think about the reason that item is on there. We have been fortunate enough to spend a couple of winters traveling to warmer climates and we see many of our fellow retirees sporting all kinds of clothing that advertise the places they’ve been. It’s great that they bought a little something to remember their experience and I hope that each visit lived up to their expectations.
Hopefully, it wasn’t to just put a check mark next to an item on their list but, rather, a place they got to experience fully and to appreciate. Seeing New Orleans, for example, isn’t just to be able to say that you’ve walked down Bourbon Street – at least not for us. Seeing this wonderful city was to experience the amazing food, the love of music and the resilient people who live there even when the tourists leave. Taking a tour and seeing the devastation of Katrina will give you an idea of how much suffering there was and how amazing these people are when they go back to the madness of Mardi Gras and celebrating life.
It’s a very beneficial exercise to take the time to explore the hidden memories of your past and recall a forgotten desire or a place you wanted to see. Visiting football and baseball stadiums may help you recall the passion you may have had for a past sport. Walking the golf course at Pebble Beach or visiting Augusta may be something you want to do. Visiting the “Old Hollywood” by seeing the homes of the stars was something we particularly enjoyed during our visit to Palm Springs. But your bucket list doesn’t have to be places you go to.
Your bucket list will probably include things you want to do and, perhaps, skills you always wanted to acquire. Playing an instrument or learning a language can be challenges that stimulate you mentally and give you an unbelievable sense of satisfaction as you sit down at the piano to impress your audience or converse with a local in a foreign country. These are the things that keep people young but, just like anything in life, they won’t get done unless you prioritize them which is what you’re doing when you make a bucket list.
I am very lucky to be married to a saint who has indulged me in sharing my bucket list as part of her life. To be sure, we’ve added things that are on her list and figuring out what we’re going to do next is one of the most enjoyable things we do together. Sometimes the planning and anticipation is almost as good as the experience itself.
It’s great when you can enjoy the things on your bucket list with other people. There are many travel groups, cooking groups, writing workshops or sports activities where you can expand your social network and meet new people. Retirement is the time to make these desires a reality. Your retirement bucket list should be something you create and monitor your progress against every year. It will add to your happiness, sense of fulfillment and help you Enjoy Retired Life!