What’s In Your Bucket?

About a year ago, I started a “bucket list” of things to do in retirement.  I may share it at some point as part of this blog.  Some of the ideas are obvious, such as “Travel”, which is a useful category for capturing places I’d like to see based on things I’ve seen on TV or articles I’m reading.  I suspect when most people think “bucket list”, travel is one of the first things to come to mind.

I’d encourage you to get more serious about a bucket list.  Rather than just a list of places you’d like to visit, how about expanding it to all of the areas of your life that you’d like to enhance?

To stretch my imagination, I recently took an idea from Intentional Retirement  and am currently working on expanding the list into various areas of life.  Joe Hearn, the author of Intentional Retirement, came up with the following categories, and is attempting to achieve 50 items under each list by the age of 50:

  1. Travel
  2. Learning
  3. Life Experiences

I like his idea of expanding the exercise to various categories – it stimulates the thinking.  At this point, my categories are as follows (no chance for Joe Hearn’s “50 by 50”, since I’ve already passed that half century benchmark!):

  1. Travel
  2. Personal Development & Hobbies
  3. Work For Fun & Charity
  4. Spiritual Development
  5. Relationships

I developed the list based on things I’ve read that have been identified by “the experts” as core elements for a successful retirement.  I suspect the list will change with time, but it’s a good starting point to capture thoughts as they pass through my brain waves over the next few years leading into retirement.

It’s useful to have an identified location in place to capture thoughts as they come up (often at seemingly random times).  If you’ve not yet created an “Evernote” account, I’d encourage you to sign up (click the hyperlink in this sentence) and attempt to create your first file as a bucket list.  The thing I like about Evernote – it’s with me wherever I am (or, to be precise, whenever I have a computer, ipad or cell phone at hand).  It’s cloud based, so no need for file backup, and it’s accessible by any device that can access the web.  (No, I don’t get any advertising from Evernote, it’s just a software that I’ve found to be quite useful!).

Regardless of your stage in life, a bucket list is an interesting exercise in stretching your thinking to what you’d really like to accomplish in life.  While our ability to freely choose how we spend our time is limited while we’re still in the work place, it becomes one of the greatest opportunities (and risks) in retirement.

Take full advantage of the time between now and retirement to spend deep thought on how you’d like to prioritize your time when you finally reach the point of financial independence.  If you’re already in retirement,  I can think of nothing more important than being intentional about how you fill your hours, and insuring that you’re consciously choosing to spend your time doing that which is your highest priority.

In retirement, we are each responsible for how we spend 24 hours per day of our time (for the first time in our lives!).  Given my “Type-A” tendencies, I worry about that some times.  Then, I open my bucket list and think of all of the experiences I’ll (hopefully) have the opportunity to enjoy.

I’m working on my list of priorities, and looking forward to filling my time with things that I’ve intentionally chosen as things of importance in my life.

How about you?


  1. Fritz – Do you prioritize your bucket list items and/or assign dates (goal completions) to them? How do you handle them once you’ve completed an item (cross it off, delete it, checkmark, etc.)? How do you handle an item you no longer want to do? If you complete an item, particularly travel related I would assume, do you add it back on your bucket list if you want to return at a later date? I’m close to retiring and my wife and I have started listing a few things (mainly travel related) but haven’t really figured out how best to manage our list. I would appreciate your insight.

    1. Bert – thanks for working your way through my entire archive, much appreciated! I’m still “building” my list (into different Evernote pages for each area), but plan on keeping items once completed, using “strikethrough” so they’re checked off but I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished. If I decide to delete something, I simply remove it. If it’s returning to an area, I list it “Return to X and do Y”. Thanks for your loyalty!

      1. I really like the “strikethrough” idea and “Return to X and do Y.” We’ll look at incorporating those ideas in our bucket listing planning and execution. Thanks,

  2. “If you’re already in retirement, I can think of nothing more important than being intentional about how you fill your hours, and insuring that you’re consciously choosing to spend your time doing that which is your highest priority.”

    I like this quote a lot, and I think there’s benefit to expanding it to every stage of life. 🙂

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