Working the Bucket List

Retirement Bucket ListDo you have a Bucket List? My husband and I didn’t for the longest time. We talked about it, dreamt about what we would have on it but just didn’t get around to writing one. Maybe what prevented us from getting serious was spending time passively dreaming rather than figuring out what we really wanted to accomplish. After all, it’s fun to think about bungee jumping or skydiving but these might not be something we really want to do.

As we got older and had retirement in sight, we felt we needed to seriously start planning our future adventures. Over the years we read articles about wonderful sounding events or places to visit. But, really, how many things can you decide you need to accomplish before you kick the bucket before the list becomes too overwhelming?

After much discussion, we sat down to compile our goals. Fortunately, both my husband and I had very similar thoughts about how we want to spend our retirement years. It was easy to come up with our individual and collective goals. Our official Bucket List was started.
We had quite a few of the typical “Travel to” items on the collective list, each with a different destination. We both wanted to hunt for meteorites, take yoga, and find a location to see the Milky Way. We wanted to see Phantom of the Opera and Wicked stage performances. Okay, it was just me who wanted to see those shows, but it went on the list. So did attending Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California..

Soon we needed more paper. “Better make the list electronic,” my husband recommended. I went to get the computer.

The list got very long very quickly. We really had a lot of unfulfilled desires. I started to feel like I hadn’t really lived. So to answer my earlier question of “how many things can you have on the list,” the answer is – quite a lot!

Our Bucket List looked very expensive not to mention it was obvious there wasn’t enough time to complete everything.

We had to get honest with ourselves. The list expanded and contracted with the realities of life. Traveling around the world and becoming a gourmet cook were moved to the bottom but several of the items continued to be constant desires.

Getting real was a battle. Who wants to give up becoming a singer? Okay, everyone around me wants me to give up that one, but it has always been something I wanted to do. I removed that item.

We organized and prioritized. We took off impractical desires, but the list increased when we thought of new places and things to do. We took into account our increasing age and moved some up. Others could wait a few years. And of course there were the “I would love to but if I don’t I’ll get over it” items that we moved further down. We factored in expenses, seasonal activities and time involved. Traveling to Australia was not the same as spending a three-day weekend in San Diego and so Australia and San Diego were organized accordingly. We looked for items that could be grouped together, like getting two for the price of one. We identified several high-priority items that would work well together and put them at the top. There were others that we were sure we would regret not doing and moved them up too. We selected 10 items and set about trying to make them happen.

Here’s what we came up with:

  1. Retire
  2. Write and publish a book or two
  3. Travel to US state and national parks
  4. Become an artist (this one was mine)
  5. Go to Alaska to fish for salmon and halibut
  6. Witness a full solar eclipse
  7. Pan for gold (why not?)
  8. Dig for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas (see a trend?)
  9. See the New England fall colors
  10. Go on a cross-country car trip

Our first item was to retire. My husband checked that off in 2006 and I followed a year later—very big step. We love our freedom but going without a paycheck… well, let me just say, YIKES!

With retirement checked off, we immediately started the next item on our list: Write and publish a book or two. When we put this on the list several years before retiring, it seemed like a pipe dream. My husband had already published a couple of science related non-fiction books, but other than my desire and all of the work-related design and training documents I wrote during my career, I would be starting out as a novice.

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  1. Great idea! My husband and I don’t have a bucket list, but we need to start one! Number one will be to travel more. I like your idea of panning for gold

  2. Great thoughts, how wonderful that it fell into place for you, just shows you that it is true, that “you have to have a dream for a dream to come true””


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