What’s on Your Bucket List?

When most of us think of retirement, our minds wander to all the things we’ll get to do that we didn’t have time for when we had career and family responsibilities.  That’s what makes decades of saving worthwhile after all.  We venture forth with our bucket lists in hand.

The term bucket list came from the movie of that same name, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  When they were both diagnosed with a year or less to live, they had the urgent desire to make the most of the time they had left.  They came up with all the things they wanted to accomplish before they “kicked the bucket.” Sort of a to-do list.

Retirement wishes

When the word “list” became attached to the word “bucket” it became an entirely new way for people to define their lives.

Instead of saying, “My purpose is to serve mankind and make the world a better place to live,” we now say, “Visiting the Forbidden City in China and Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia are on my bucket list.”

As more and more people acquired mental buckets and lists of stuff to put into them, people began to copy other people’s bucket lists.

There’s no end of ideas.  Just Google “bucket list” you’ll find all kinds of things to do.

Books were written to help you fill your list:

  • Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures
  • 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  This also comes in a DVD set so you don’t actually have to get up from your Lazy Boy to enjoy these places.
  • Also for the couch potatoes among us – 1000 Books to Read

These lists are meant to give us inspiration for any ideas you might find appealing.  But seeing that huge number can be daunting, and we become concerned with running out of time before we can complete our to-do list.

What’s on your bucket list?

Travel is a huge bucket list item, especially seeking an unforgettable travel experience.

A very popular item is, “Visit Paris and go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa.” Mobs of people, after waiting in line for hours, strain to get as close to Mona as possible, holding aloft their iPhones to get evidence of the great event so they can post it on Instagram.  There are so many people that guards at the Louvre recently went on strike because the crowds prevented them from ensuring the safety of the artwork and visitors.

Other popular bucket list items are cruising to the Antarctic to see the penguins (and the ice before it vanishes), walking on the Great Wall of China, visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa and taking a photo of you pretending to hold up the tower, skydiving, and staying at an ice hotel.

All of these have been especially overrun with a record number of tourists and they have even been turned away from newly popular, but unprepared, places like Iceland and (closer to home) our own Lake Louise, Alberta.  Visiting places that are overcrowded and grossly overpriced takes away from the charm that made the destination so popular in the first place.

For some reason, another item everyone new seems to have in their buckets is to climb a mountain – Everest in particular.  The long lineups result in people having to wait hours to traverse the hair-raising passages.  Many people have lost even their lives.  As well, the world’s tallest mountain is littered with garbage and other disgusting waste.

When retirees are on the hunt to search for their next big adventure so they can to cross another item off their bucket list, they often miss out on a more satisfying life.  They turn their leisure activities into chores.

What if you don’t have a bucket list?

Kate laments that compared to others she has no goal list of leisure activities.  However, she reads at least one book a week, tends to a large garden, has a poodle she takes for walks in the park.  She volunteers at the annual Blues Festival and likes to spend time with friends and family.

Leisure doesn’t have to be a pleasure cruise to the Caribbean or heli-sking in the Rockies.

Related:  What do Retired Boomers Like to Do?

Leisure needs to fit your personality.

The bottom line

Boomers didn’t grow up with social media and “lifestyle influencers” so why would we be manipulated by reports of what we “should” be doing in our retirement years.

Checking items off your bucket list doesn’t necessarily contribute to a fulfilling life.  You need to create a balance, not just an activity roster.  What’s on your bucket list should be very personal and will vary depending on your interests.

We need to make the most of our time because it passes so quickly.  Sooner or later we realize that we’ll never have enough time to get everything done but we do have enough time for what matters most.

So, here’s to the bucket list.  May yours give you comfort and joy and provide some goals to strive toward.

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