In the 2007 film The Bucket List, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman set off on a road trip to check off all the things they wanted to do before they “kicked the bucket.” Since then, people of all ages have been making their own lists of things they want to do—their bucket lists. And it’s great that people are doing this at younger ages. No one wants to reach the end of their life only to discover there were so many things they wished they’d done.
The good news is that we’re living in exciting times (pandemic aside). There’s so much available to us as seniors; and let’s face it, we’re not the seniors that our grandparents were. Aging today brings with it a different mind-set about engaging in exciting opportunities that lie ahead of us. It’s about making positive choices that allow you to live life at your highest level while realizing your passions and dreams regardless of your age.
Why Have a Bucket List?
Wellness Warrior, you know that purpose is paramount in my life, and I’m a firm believer that, as we enter our senior years, we need to identify—and continue to refine—what that purpose is, what gets us up every morning. And, a bucket list can be a fun way to live in your purpose. It’s also a great way of focusing on what you really want out of life and motivating yourself to go after it.
Creating Your Bucket List
There are many things that can distract and sidetrack us from reaching our goals, so just as you would do with any other goals you have, be sure to write your bucket list down. Writing it down will help keep it in the forefront of your priorities along with the other things you have to do. You don’t want it to get pushed to the backburner.
Also, before sitting down to write out your list, it can be helpful to take a few quiet, reflective moments to think about who you are, what your passions are, and, yes, what your capabilities are. This will go a long way in creating a list of the choices that are right for you.
While the internet is filled with ideas on things to add to your bucket list, especially as a senior, here are a few categories I find particularly engaging.
This is probably one of the most popular things people think about when creating their bucket. I love to travel all over the world, and I am grateful to have been able to do it in my life.
Visiting or living abroad can be thrilling. You get to experience new cultures, foods, and ways of living. Even traveling to places closer to home gives you the chance to see things you’ve only seen in magazines or online.
Some fun travel ideas include:
- Go on a road trip in a convertible.
- Go to a place of historical significance (e.g., war sites).
- See the Northern Lights.
- Swim in the ocean.
- Visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
- Go on a safari.
- Go to a sporting event that you’ve always wanted to see (e.g., Wimbledon, the Tour de France).
- Go to a spiritual site of importance to you.
Do Something “Adventurous”
OK, so while this could include adrenaline-pumping activities, like sky diving or bungy jumping, this can also be those things that you just never did before because you worried about what could go wrong or what other people would think of you.
Fun and adventurous ideas include:
- Indoor skydiving
- Swimming with dolphins
- Have an up-close-and-personal experience with an exotic animal (e.g., penguins, elephants, etc.).
- Change your hair color.
- Do karaoke (in public).
- Take a ride in a hot air balloon.
- Go skinny dipping.
Volunteer/Help Someone Out
Whether it’s volunteering with an organization or simply doing something for someone else, there are few things that feel better than the “helper’s high” (that rush of good feelings from doing something nice or as a surprise for someone). Maybe you’ve always wanted to throw your friend a surprise party or pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru line. Well, here’s your chance to do it.
Here are a few ways to feel that helper’s high and make a difference in others’ lives as well:
- Paint rocks with positive words on them and leave them around town.
- Give your restaurant server or hairdresser a really large tip.
- Pay a stranger a compliment.
- Pay for someone else’s meal in a restaurant (e.g., a single parent with children).
- Participate in a walk/run for a charity.
- Sponsor a local child’s camp tuition.
- Sponsor a child overseas.
- Take treats to the local fire department, police department, or hospital to support first responders.
Go Back in Time
You’ve probably seen the movie Back to the Future, where Michael J. Fox travels back in time and meets his parents during their high school years. Well, time travel in the DeLorean only worked in the movie, but wouldn’t it be fun to revisit some of your past? Or maybe to learn more about your heritage?
Here are a few things you can add to your back-to-the-future bucket list:
- Study your genealogy.
- Contact a childhood friend.
- Go back to where you and your spouse honeymooned.
- Write a journal about where you grew up or your childhood memories.
- Attend high school reunions.
- Review your high school yearbook and fulfill a dream you had back then.
- Create a family tree.
- Visit the place where your family is from (perhaps overseas).
Learn a New Skill
We all know the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you’re not a dog! If I’ve learned nothing else from the many amazing residents of Aegis Living, it’s that you’re never too old to learn! What things did you always wish you knew how to do, but never had time to do?
Here are just a few new things you can learn:
- Take cooking classes.
- Learn a new language.
- Learn how to knit or crochet and make baby blankets to donate to the local hospital.
- Learn how to grow vegetables.
- Learn a new sport or game.
- Learn how to juggle (balls, not your schedule).
- Learn magic tricks.
- Take art classes at your local community college.
This list could go on and on!
One final word for those of you who might be caregivers to a loved one: If your loved one isn’t able (physically, emotionally, or financially) to check off the items on their bucket list, get creative! If Mom’s dream is to dine on the Champs-Élysées, but she can’t handle the trip to Paris, maybe get dressed up and take her to a nice French restaurant. Or plan an afternoon of wine and cheese or French pastries and French music in the background. Speak with a French accent! With just a little imagination, you can whisk your mom off to Paris without leaving town.
So what are you waiting for? Give it some thought, then come up with your list. Write it down and keep adding to it. Then live your life with purpose and have fun checking off the items on your bucket list!
Until next time Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!