5 Steps to Accomplishing the Things on Your Bucket List

5 Steps to Accomplishing the Things on Your Bucket List

It’s easy to imagine all the things you want to do, but harder to commit to doing them.

It’s easy to imagine all the things you want to do, but harder to commit to doing them.

Do you have a bucket list? Hopefully, you have envisioned your retirement as a time to try new things, travel to places you have always wanted to go, and do the things you didn’t have time for during your working years.

But will you actually get around to doing any of those things on your list? It’s easy to get consumed by the routine of day-to-day life, even in retirement. Before you know it, years will have passed and those items on your bucket list will still be just dreams for “someday.”

Here are five steps you can take to help you achieve the items on your bucket list and enjoy the fulfilling retirement you deserve.

1. Put it in writing!

Is your bucket list just a vague, ever-changing set of ideas in your head, or do you have yours written down?

Actually writing a list of things you want to do during the remainder of your life will increase the probability that you will achieve most or all of them. Plus, you will have specific things to look forward to and you will view your retirement much more positively.

If you don’t have a bucket list in writing yet, grab a pen and paper or open up a new document on your computer. Capture ideas as they inspire you. For now, don’t filter yourself.

Your bucket list can contain places you would like to visit, both in your home country and abroad. Perhaps you have projects you wish to undertake, such as cataloging all of your photos or writing your memoir. Consider new things you want to learn and new things you want to try, like taking Spanish lessons or learning how to fly a plane. Think back through your life and try to recall things that once interested you but you never had time for.

If you already have a bucket list, get it out. What new things would you like to add? What have you accomplished since you last reviewed your list?

2. Edit your list.

The more specific you can make your bucket list, the better. For example, rather than listing “visit Thailand,” you can write “take a Thai cooking class in Bangkok” or “visit a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai.”

If there are any items on your list that really don’t excite you, remove them. If there are things you put on the list because you think you should do them, but you don’t really want to do them, cross them off. And while it’s good to be optimistic and think positively, if there are any items on your list that are unrealistic because they are beyond your physical capability or financial reality, delete them. It’s important to believe that everything on your list is achievable, even if it requires a stretch.

A public bucket list on the Regent's Canal Walk, London

A public bucket list on the Regent’s Canal Walk, London

3. Prioritize.

Choose which item on your bucket list you will start on first. Then choose the next five.

If there are items on your bucket list that are more physically demanding and will be easier for you to accomplish while you are younger, you may wish to focus on them first.

Or, since none of us knows how much time we have left, you may prefer to prioritize the items that are most important to you.

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This article is an excerpt from the book Smooth Sailing into Retirement. This book will guide you from your last few months of work through your first year of retirement. It identifies the many ways your life will change and prepares you for the emotions you may experience along the way. At each step, you will receive strategies for dealing with these changes. Click here to learn more.

4. Schedule it.

Those trips on your list aren’t going to happen by themselves.  Trips take a lot of planning and saving.  The only way those trips are going to happen is if you choose which one you’re going to do next, decide on when you’re going to go, and start making plans.  When you buy the airplane tickets, the trip becomes a lot more real.

If you want to take classes and learn new skills, decide when you are going to start on your first one.

If it doesn’t get written down and scheduled, it is unlikely to get done.

When you make the commitment to your next bucket list item, you will be amazed at how everything else falls into place. With an established goal, you will find ways to save and prioritize in order to make accomplishing your goal a reality.

If you can take one bucket list trip a year, you will probably be able to work your way through most, if not all, of the destinations on your list. Even if you don’t make it to all of them, you’ll accomplish a lot more than you would have otherwise.

bucket-list-chris-hertel-300x300     beer-bucket-list-300x300

5. Identify what you need to change.

The main reason the items on your bucket list may never get done is that many them require change. They require you to do something differently than you have been accustomed to for most of your life.  They may require you to establish new habits or become more disciplined.  Some of them necessitate planning or saving money or leaving your comfort zone.

For example, if one of the items on your bucket list is to write a book, you need to commit time every day to writing – even if it’s just 15 minutes.  You must prioritize this time and not let your commitment to writing fall prey to chores that need to be done, email and social media, or any other pursuits.

You are a creature of habit.  A lot of your current habits have been engrained in you for most of your life. If you have great things in mind for your retirement years, you will need to mindfully change your habits, routines and priorities to make them happen.

As the old cliché goes, the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

What’s on your bucket list? What’s the next thing you plan to check off your list?

What changes will you commit to making in order to accomplish the things you want to do?

Please share in the comments (below)!

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Reprinted from my blog on U.S. News – On Retirement.

© 2016 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.

Photo credits:
Bucket list with pen and watch: successtiming.
Public bucket list: digitaltemi. Some rights reserved.
Bucket list in red frame: Chris Hertel. Some rights reserved.
Beer bucket list: Mike Mozart. Some rights reserved.

3 Responses

  1. William DeyErmand says:

    It’s like making a Christmas wishlist, a little bit. My wife says two things each year, after Spring and before Fall so it doesn’t interfere with holidays. The first thing we are going to do is pack our backpacks and head to the airport for the first available flight out! We have listed ideas of river cruises, Travel Route 66, and Louvre Museum but we mostly want to be active with others, taking day trips sightseeing or classes at the college.

    • Dave Hughes says:

      That idea of packing a bag and taking the next available flight sounds fun and adventurous!

      If you know where to look and you have a very flexible schedule, you can probably find occasional flights that are dramatically reduced at the last minute just so they can fill empty seats.

      • William DeyErmand says:

        Recently we were at a retirement party and everyone was asking that couple “What are you going to do, now that you are officially retired?” Their answers were feeble to say the least. At least we are planning and will start off with a “bang”.

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