Your Retirement Bucket List
Friend and Editor volunteering! Photo by someone, I forget who.

Your Retirement Bucket List

How many times have you said “Someday I want to do that!” or “I want to go there someday!”?   Then time slips by, life changes, and your dream of adventure or doing something new slips away.   How do we make these dreams become “I am going to do that” and “I am going there!”?

Now that you are retired, or about to retire, those dreams can come true if they

are realistic, affordable, and you REALLY want them.   The first thing to do is make a ‘bucket list’ – write the dreams on a slip of paper and put it in a bucket.   Writing it down makes it real for a lot of us.  Here are some ideas to make your dreams come true, Cinderella!

Hint:  Before you go crazy filling up buckets, there are a few questions you should ask yourself first.  

  1. Be realistic. You probably are not going to get to live on Mars! Setting goals that are not within the realm of your health, physical condition, or finances is setting you up to fail and be frustrated.   If you are living on a very limited budget, don’t plan to go to Europe every year. It isn’t going to happen.   Instead, decide to take a weekend trip to someplace you’ve always wanted to go, volunteer at the library or local hospital.   Join your local community theatre and help build or paint a set.
  2. Make sure you are healthy enough to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon before you embark on that adventure.   If you are physically limited, you can volunteer to help a child learn to read. Sew a quilt for wounded warriors. Be a ‘booth sitter’ at your local arts festival so the artist can have lunch. Learn to whittle a spoon.
  3. It’s tempting to set goals that will cost a bundle of money.   Visiting a Buddhist Temple in Thailand will set you back airfare, hotels, meals, transportation while there, etc.   This can run into several thousands of dollars for a two week stay.   Maybe you can’t afford a big trip like this every year, but can you save for a big trip once every five years instead?   Take local trips in the meantime that won’t break your budget.  

Now that you have time to do the things you’ve always wanted, you need to prioritize.   Carefully make your list with 10 items.   Realize that you are not going to get any healthier than you are now and try to do the more physical goals first, within reason.   Maybe that Grand Canyon hike can be down to the first switch-back and then back up.

Taking Grandsons on Vacation!
Taking Grandsons on Vacation!

I’ve had a running bucket list for most of my adult life and have crossed off many of the points. I keep the list on my dresser where I can see it often.   The family (eleven of us) saved and went on a trip to Hawaii. I was in a stage play. I went to the top of the Sears Tower. I traced my family tree back to the Mayflower.   I made several stained glass windows and learned to paint.   I went to Great Britain and saw the crown jewels and toured a woolen mill in Scotland.   I wrote a play.  Recently, was in a flashmob and sang a chorus part from Les Mis! And…I started a website!

Some items still on the list include a walk on the Great Wall of China, write a book, go on a zip-line, parachute, swim with dolphins, and see the Louvre Art Museum – which I missed. 

Here are some great ideas to consider based on your interests:

For the city folks, you can go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, visit the Statue of Liberty, ride a cable car in San Francisco.  Become a docent at a Museum.   You can volunteer at a festival, or help at a day care center.  

Nature lovers can walk in Death Valley, take a float trip down the Colorado River, help remove noxious weeds in your local park, join a stargazing group, volunteer at a wildlife center in Costa Rica.  

Artsy/hobby people can build a model railroad layout, learn to knit, learn to play bridge, visit art museums and galleries everywhere you go, volunteer to teach your hobby at a Boys and Girls Club, or help a Scout earn a badge.  You can learn a new vocabulary word every day. Master a video game.  

If not now, then when?   What’s on your bucket list?

Tell us what’s on your list to do?   What have you already accomplished?  



Cheryl and her husband have just recently retired and live in the Pacific Northwest. She has been enjoying her herself by traveling around the world, playing with her grandchildren, and she frequently volunteers in her community. There is certainly never a dull moment with Cheryl. She cheerfully co-founded RetireBook and wants to share her energy, hoping that it inspires her readers to live life at its fullest.