If you are new to the whole retirement business or are about to head there in a few short months or years, I bet you have a lot planned for the time when you finally get to quit the rat race. But, I am going to give you a warning here – All those movies that show the utter boredom of retirement are bang on!
Sure the novelty and the liberty of being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want and finally being able to escape the 9 to 5 grind will be appealing at first.
But, trouble starts as soon as the realization hits that this is it, and you can’t turn back things to the way they were. That’s when you start a desperate hunt for ways and activities to fill those day hours, which used to once be packed with “so much to do”.
And that is when your trusty bucket list will come to your rescue. Those of you who haven’t watched the eponymous “The Bucket List” may not know what the list is all about or may even find the idea silly.
On the other side of the spectrum, you will find those inspired souls who were so moved by the flick that they have designed their own bucket list after those of the characters in the movie. In the sage words of my Gramps- “You are wrong this way and that!”
So, whichever category you find yourself in, this article will dispel the myths, introduce a few important facts and then give you a boat load of ideas for your own bucket list. As always, we will start with the basics as a courtesy to the uninitiated.
What Exactly Is A Bucket List?
I am sure you must have heard the most popular definition – The list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. Personally, I believe the tone to that one is a tad macabre and even negative.
It’s almost like another way of saying once you are done working your way down the list, it is time to throw in the towel.
I like to think of it as a list of wishes and achievable wishes at that. Sure, I’d like to scale Mt Everest, live in the Buckingham Palace for a week or turn archaeologist and discover the secrets of all those pyramids in Egypt.
But those are just fantasies and what is the possibility of regular folks like us finding an uber wealthy benefactor, as was Cole to Carter (shout out again at the movie The Bucket list). Unfortunately, this is where most people go wrong, they create a list of not thing that they wanted or want to do, but of fantasies.
Unfortunately, the farther away you go from what is achievable realistically the sooner you will lose your motivation to work down your bucket list. So, to cut a long story short, your bucket list should include stuff that you always wanted to do but could not do because of other obligations.
But Wait, Why Exactly Do I Need A Bucket List?
Simple, making a list of all that you want to do, keeps you motivated to actually go ahead and do it. Of course, when you make that list, you also inevitably start the planning process.
Whether it is looking up information on a hobby that you always wanted to indulge in or calculating the amount of money you would need to take that dream trip, all of that is the first step towards turning that particular item on your list into a reality.
The planning helps you to get your resources together for big goals and even prioritize some items in the list over others based on your abilities (physical, financial and others). That said, you need to understand that if your goals are realistic, there is no reason why you should allow your marriage, grownup kids, grandkids who need taking care of, limited budget or health problems stop you.
A bucket list is not just a great way to keep yourself focused on shelved goals but also to keep boredom at bay. Because you will be actively working towards achieving your goals, you will have enough to fill those hours and you will have a reward waiting at the end of the process.
So, How Do I Make My Bucket List?
If you are starved for ideas, let’s get you off to a running start with a few questions that will get you thinking and help you to draw up a list you will enjoy working your way through. Ask yourself:
- What are the things that you always wanted to do but could not indulge yourself or have not done as yet?
- What are the things that you would regret not experiencing?
- Is there anything that you wanted to learn and still wish to learn?
- What are your dream destinations that you haven’t gotten around to visiting as yet?
- What are the simple pleasures of life that you want to have more of?
- What are your biggest goals and dreams and what were your biggest goals and dreams in the past? (Remember, save for a few things, the only time it is too late to work on achieving a goal is when you’ve already left the human realm for your heavenly abode).
When answering these, try not to include more than 2-3 answers for each question. Start with the top picks from the answers to each question and draw up a list of 10-15 items.
The idea is to keep the blueprint realistic. Too many items on the list may make those goals seem impossible, tedious and even overwhelming.
Creating Your Senior’s Bucket List
Here are a few things you must remember while working on a senior’s bucket list!
Have clear and well defined goals:
Specific goals are easier to accomplish and to plan for. So, instead of including something abstract like pick up a new hobby or travel the world, go with concrete goals like learn to sing/paint or visit the Eiffel Tower. The more focused and clear your goals are, the more they will motivate and excite you.
Your aim should be to cross every item on that list:
Of course you can make changes if you absolutely must. But, as far as possible select your goals after giving each one a good thought. If you allow yourself the liberty to remove items from the list on a whim, you will be less motivated to achieve them. So, only choose things, places, acts that you are keen to accomplish.
You don’t have to be the copycat bucket lister:
Your bucket list is yours first and foremost, which means that you do not and should not include goals that you don’t care about much just because someone else has these on their list.
Make yourself accountable for accomplishing the goals:
The best way to do this is to share your list with others. Be it friends, family, kids, your spouse or even an online group for likeminded folks, letting people know that you intend to achieve a specific goal is one of the best ways to create purpose. Who knows, you may even find a partner to accompany you on your adventures.
Segregate your goals:
Sure you can have more or less than 10 things in your bucket list. But, make it a point to categorize the goals based on the amount of time you feel you will need to achieve them. So, once you have your list ready, divide it into long and short term goals. Because long-term and harder to accomplish goals call for more resources and planning alternate these with short term goals in your blueprint.
Track your progress:
Like all other goals, the items in your bucket list also need tracking for progress. Pick one or two goals at a time and plan the hell out of each. Then, use a journal or an online progress tracking app to keep yourself on top of them. Dividing a goal into easier and simpler micro goals helps to keep motivation levels up because every time you reach a milestone it will give you a sense of accomplishment and the drive to continue.
Finally, if you find the goals too overwhelming at first even after you scale down their number to single digits, start with things that can be achieved in and around your town and within your comfort zone. Then, venture out just a bit farther away from home and then some more till you get to that goal which seems the farthest and the hardest.
Bucket List Suggestions For Retirement: Starting With The Easy-Peasy!
1. Surely, your city/town has plenty to offer:
Take the time out to enjoy the wonders of your corner of the planet. You can go to local museums, parks, trails or any other tourist attractions. Even if you have already visited these places before, this time do it at a leisurely pace. Walk through the park in fall to enjoy the gorgeous palette of autumn or get to the hill top or even the beach in time to enjoy a sun rise or sunset. The aim here is to enjoy and be grateful for the simple pleasures of life!
2. Consider a makeover:
It does not have to be a radical transformation, unless that is what you want. But, the fact is that as working professionals, people seldom have the time and the inclination for a makeover, not to mention that many feel a drastic change would impact their professional image. But, after retirement since that’s no longer cause for concern, go ahead and splurge on a new look.
3. Do something spontaneous:
In my opinion, spontaneity is something that most people leave back in their twenties. Is it any wonder then that life tends to drag along as you get older? Fortunately, once you are out of the grind, you can actually afford to be spontaneous again. So, take an impromptu trip to a neighboring town or grab your next cuppa at the first deli you come across as you take a random road trip or go to the train station or the airport and take the first available train or flight that you can get yourself on.
4. Enjoy grandparent-hood:
While you are working, you may only get the occasional weekend and the holidays with your grandkids. But once you have more time on your hands, there is absolutely no reason to not pass on your skills, talents and wisdom to the next generation. Teach the munchkins to fish, hike cook, bake or create a new family tradition that they will remember you for even when they are ready to enjoy those traditions with their grandchildren.
5. Overcome your technophobia:
If you have stayed away from certain technologies or even tech innovations and gadgets, this would be a good time to give them a shot. After all, most of these gadgets and services help to make life easier. The best part is that there are scores of options to choose from.
6. Become a polyglot:
Almost 15% seniors in the US want to learn a foreign language, and for a good reason too! Mastering a new language is a fantastic workout for neurons, not to mention that it also opens up new avenues for socializing.
So, if you always wanted to learn one of those romantic sounding European languages, mes cherries, this is your time to do just that. You can pick up an online course (most are offered for a few dollars or you could consider taking a course at the local community college or simply head over to the library for a taped program.
7. Devote yourself to something you love:
A lot of people have pet charitable causes that they would love to involve themselves with. But, they seldom have the time to do so when they are actively working. So, this is another goal for your bucket list; one that will offer a sense of fulfillment and accumulate good karma.
Plus, it helps you to connect with people in a special way and is another fabulous avenue for social interaction with likeminded folks. If you look online, you will find several programs that allow volunteers to participate in helping the less fortunate.
8. Try out something new:
Once again, this does not have to be something radical, unless that is what you want. You could try out a new style of dressing or new cuisine, a new restaurant or club or even pet ownership. As you grow older, life takes on a “Been there, done it all” quality and that’s very bad for your brain. So, keep your noggin in hoppin good condition by exposing it to new experiences.
9. Get yourself a new hobby or revive an old one:
As you wade through adulthood, hobbies take a backseat to personal and professional obligations. So, post your sixtieth birthday is the perfect time to revisit old hobbies and to even indulge in a few new ones.
There is only one problem with this- There are so many options available that you will have to do your research and be very specific about the hobby that makes it to your bucket list. Of course, it does not have to be just one, but I do recommend that you start with one and work more into subsequent lists.
As far as the choices go, you are limited only by your imagination; from collecting coins and stamps ( yes people still do that and some have actually found treasure while indulging in their hobby) to painting, sculpting, dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, creative writing and others, you can opt for any off these and others.
10. Catch up on some reading:
When was the last time you could invest an hour everyday reading your favorite books? Well, you can now. The best part is that you don’t have to go to the library to borrow those books nor do you have to let the tiny font size and your deteriorating vision stop you.
You can read all the books you want, often for free or for a few cents with an E-book reader. Plus, these nifty gadgets are designed to accommodate the needs of senior readers and are overall easier on the eyes than paperbacks.
11. Involve yourself in a DIY project:
Pinterest and other websites have several DIY projects from the regular to the ambitious that can be a fulfilling addition to your bucket list. If you enjoy restoration of old furniture, watches and the like or have been looking forward to redecorating an area of your home, these DIY projects will give you all the ideas and the instructions you need.
12. Get a side hustle going:
I know a senior couple who turned their love for crafts into a thriving little online venture. So, they now make money by doing what they absolutely love to do. No, they are not millionaires yet but the extra greenbacks make for a meaningful addition to their vacation budget.
Even if you don’t actually want to sell a product, it is always possible to sell a service. For those of you who are not too keen on revisiting their professional lives, you could share your expertise with others and mentor the younger generation.
13. Forge new friendships and rekindle old ones:
You don’t need a school or college reunion to lookup old friends. All you need is the full name and their last known location or even the name of the university this person attended or the company he/she worked for and you can put social media and white pages to use.
If you would rather get out there and make new friends, no matter where you live, you will find hobby clubs and online groups that bring together people with similar interest. These offer a wonderful way to meet new people.
Adventurous Bucket List Suggestions For Retirement
1. Get ripped
Just because you are in the seventh decade of your life does not mean you have to allow flab to invade your body. Also, don’t fall for the misconception that once you are past a certain age, you can’t lose the unwanted pounds and inches. Yes, it will be harder but not impossible. Don’t believe me? Simply Google “Over 60 and ripped, and you will be both shocked and inspired by the results.
2. Visit 5 continents, 4 mountains or the 7 wonders
No, it does not have to be in that order, but I suppose you get the point. Think of all the places that you have always dreamt of visiting and then pick one or two that you want to visit this year or in the next 1 to 2 years at the most. Check out all information pertaining to travel and accommodation and then chalk out a plan to make that trip possible.
3. A shot of adrenalin anyone
Your bucket list should definitely include taking up a new sport or thrilling activity. It could be something as awe-inspiring as skydiving, wakeboarding, surfing, jet skiing or even a relatively low paced sport like golf or poker.
4. Live in the air or under water
Couldn’t get enough of Top Gun or for that matter any movie that involved aircrafts and flying? Then, you are just the candidate for a few flying lessons at the local flight school. You can limit yourself to a few sorties or clock 50 hours in your log book to earn your Private Pilot’s License. If heights are not your thing, try depths. Yes, I am talking about snorkeling or scuba diving.
5. Run a marathon
Did I hear you say, “Oh come on, not at this age”? Yes, at your age and at any other age, a grueling activity like a marathon calls for a significant amount of physical preparation. But that is what turns it into a challenge and a goal worth achieving. In fact, I’d say run for a cause because nothing can motivate you more than taking on a challenge not for yourself but for someone or something else.
Funny Bucket List Ideas For Retirement
- Put your humorous side in the spotlight by participating in stand-up comic auditions or start a blog with a daily dose of humor for your readers.
- Try out a senior dating site or ask a young at heart lady you know out for a drink.
- Turn movie director and tell the story of your life or create your magnum opus around a topic that is close to your heart. You can use your mobile camera and free video editing software and the final creation can be uploaded on YouTube.
- Be a part of a flash mob, better yet, organize your own flash mob to shock a family member or friend with some cool moves.
- Go dancing in the rain.
- Host your own pre-funeral, complete with invites sent to friends and family asking them to get flowers, and eulogies that they can read out. After all, when the real deal comes knocking, you won’t be able to hear what they say.
- Attend comic con in costume of course. Wait till your family sees you all dressed up as iron man, wonder woman or any other comic book character you love.
- Head over to Reno or Las Vegas or to the local casino, if such establishments are legal in your city/state and gamble away the princely sum of $50 at the roulette table.
- Good at baking, singing, writing, talking or any other skill? Then, start your own YouTube channel. Who knows you may make way more than you did slogging away 9 to 5 for all those years.
- Build a snowman or a sand castle or try your hand at plant sculpting (topiary).
Bucket List Ideas For Older Adults: When You Want An Experience Like No Other!
- Get clicked standing under the Hollywood sign.
- Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain of Rome to make wish.
- Witness the aurora borealis (northern lights).
- Take the elevator up to the very top of the Eiffel Tower.
- Witness a celestial event, if the cosmos has nothing spectacular on the slate for you, at least enjoy all or some of the visible eclipses of a year.
- Attend space camp.
- Enjoy the tomatina in Spain.
- Savor the Beer at the Oktoberfest in Germany.
- Apply to be a contestant on a TV Game show.
- Watch a live music/drama performance.
But, That’s Not All!
If you are looking for creative, fulfilling and feel-good bucket list ideas for senior citizens, you certainly won’t have a dearth of options. In fact, you are only limited by your imagination and your own determination to achieve your goals.
Above all, every time you get through one bucket list, you will be charged up to create a new list or add more items to your list. And imagine how amazing the memories of all those experiences and goals are going to look in the picture book of your life. So, if you don’t already have a bucket list, it sure is time to start working on one.