Updating the Bucket List

While I have sometimes called my Seasonal Plans a “bucket list”, they are in reality 3-month action plans. I do have a more traditional bucket list, the things-to-do-before-I-die kind-of-list. There are some things that have been on that list for years. And I’m starting to think I should drop some of them from the list. But then I worry:

Am I dropping some long-held bucket list ideas because I really don’t want to do them? Or is there another fear-based reason?

Is it something I’m just not enthusiastic about anymore, even though it’s been on the list seemingly forever?  Do I keep it on the list just because it’s always been there?  

Is it something I put on the list because it’s expected for “someone like me”?

Is it real fear? Or am I afraid of failure? Afraid of being shown to be incompetent? Do I just need to push out of my comfort zone?


I recognize that I need to stop trying to live old dreams and possibly create new ones. But are some  old dreams still valid.

I need to be honest with myself on my life changes and recent self-discovery that might make a bucket list item simply impossible or just not meaningful anymore.  I’m going to share three bucket list items and see if blogging about them helps me resolve the “should I or should I not drop them?” Are they still meaningful/valid dreams?

  • Buying a scooter – I took the learn to ride a motorcycle class and was absolutely terrified (link post). But I completed the class and now have a license. But the desire to buy a scooter has been significantly minimized by the fear experienced in the early learning curve and the continuing fear of possible injury.   I’m pretty sure this is a drop and not a push through the fear


  • Extensive traveling – Travel shows up all over my bucket list –  number of countries visited goal, various RoadScholar ideas, day trip ideas, National Parks list, a cross-country road trip, and lots of international places that I’ve never seen. And then I feel the fear of this impacting my continuing relationship – Hubby just dislikes travel! Also I’ve realized, I am not looking forward to trip planning. I dislike when things don’t meet my expectations and so often in travel that happens. I wonder if travel is a “should” expectation (so many of our friends are doing it). Lots of conflicting emotions involved in this space. I think travel stays, but perhaps it is modified a bit on extent and execution.


  • Volunteer work – I’ve struggled with finding volunteer work that is both fulfilling and fits the no-long-term commitment feelings I have now. Every time I talk with other retirees about their volunteer work, I wonder if what they do is right for me, too. And usually it’s, “Nope.” But then I worry that I should be volunteering at something similar. I feel like volunteer work in retirement is a societal expectation and one I feel judged on if I’m not engaged in doing it. (Real or not, I feel judged!). So I continue to search for something and it stays on the bucket list for now.

I also need to re-think my “bucket list” in general as well. I will change my perception of it from a “check-list of things to-do-before-I-die”, to (as I have called it in the past) a “personal possibilities list”. It is merely a list of things in one place to consider when I need something to inspire me.  So I will consider opportunities for volunteering and travel as they come.


Do you have a traditional bucket list, and if so, have you dropped a long-term bucket list item? What made you decide to do that?

51 thoughts on “Updating the Bucket List

  1. i struggle with volunteerism also – I see it as a “should-do” also. I have volunteered so much in my past and look forward to more me-time in my retirement (in the next 2 years). I also recently crossed some travel activities off – they are too strenuous to consider any more. I enjoy hearing how others’ bucket lists have evolved.


    1. The “should do” is something I struggle with a lot! Right now, everyone is jumping back into traveling and I just want to stay put in our new location for a bit. And I feel like I’m doing something wrong for not planning a trip!


  2. To be honest I am not a fan of bucket lists. I do of course, have ideas of what I might like to do or achieve at this ‘late stage’ of life.

    However, the messy years of transition to retirement (aged 64-67) which then morphed into the rare cancer diagnosis no-one saw coming at 67 and continued to be treated and have surgeries etc have made me FAR more grateful now for the ‘iittle’ things like getting out each day for coffee and seeing someone for morning tea.

    Dropping the should from the retirement list is mandatory. “We” both did our fair share of volunteer work and whilst I remain a volunteer Ambassador for head and neck cancer awareness, neither of us could continue in organisations run by petty and not well-trained paid employees.

    What ever you do, do it for YOU!!
    Denyse #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denyse, Thanks for that realignment.. and you are absolutely right… do it for Me. But after so many years of doing it for others and/or meeting expectations, it is so easy to slide away from that. I need constant reminders!


  3. Oh, what a pity your hubbie dislikes travel when you feel you’d like to do more. What about travelling by yourself or with others? My hubbie and I do lots of travelling together but we also take separate trips too which is also lovely. He goes on golfing trips with ‘the boys’ and I go to different places with friends or occasionally by myself. We both actually love a bit of away space to concentrate on our own particular interests. As for bucket lists, I always have a myriad of things I’d like to do or achieve which I often list (keeps me focussed) but if I died tomorrow, there’s nothing I feel I’ve left undone. Oh, maybe one – get a manuscript published, but there’s still time. Hope you get it sorted out in a way that makes you happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am looking into travel with some women friends… all of whom also have non-travel hubbies. I’d be the new person into the group and I know they don’t want to get too big a group… so we’ll see. I’m not a good travel alone person, but might consider something like RoadScholar or a women-only travel group in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are lots of options. Heaps of single people travel on small group tours and there are lots of special interest trips. I did a photography trip by myself joining a small group which was terrific. There was one couple and then 5 people travelling by themselves. It was great.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Some dreams do die hard. I keep hanging onto the book writing dream but I am not really even sure why! Not sure it is really that important any more. Not sure why I even wanted to write a book. Was it the book or the idea of being an author?

    Maybe you could begin renting scooters on your revamped, reconsidered places to which you want to travel. I would like to try riding one just for the experience.

    I completely agree on the volunteering. People – other retirees especially, in my experience – think we all need to volunteer to be fulfilled. And to give back. I have tried several volunteer gigs and each one of them has left me feeling worse, emptier, less fulfilled and more frustrated. Maybe I haven’t found the right volunteer position. But I am not sure I am interested in pursuing it any longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, I’m confident that if you want to write a book, you will. The question, like you said, is why you have that dream! For me, it was a combination of sharing my thinking beyond the blogging and being able to say I did it… I’m a published author. I don’t know if there’s another book in me… but I know that it’s easier and easier to self-publish these days. Not sell, but publish.

      As far as the scooter… I rode one after I got my license and it was still scary. The rentals would be even worse – at least when I did it on my own, I was in full gear (helmet). Most rental places are here-you-go – no helmet, no instruction…. you get hurt, you’re on your own. It’s just too scary for me to be in control of turning and stopping and not skidding out.

      I agree with your perspective on volunteering. I was chatting with someone just the other evening and she said the same thing – the volunteer experience she did left her feeling rained and unhappy. I hear all the “research” but then wonder about it when I hear real people. However, I’m going to keep that one open. Maybe something will come along that does feel fulfilling!

      Hope things are looking up for you right now… just breath in and out. I do believe the “right thing” will come to be… you might not think it is right at first, but it will be.


  5. I don’t have a bucket list per se, but there are things my husband and I have talked about doing. We’d like to get to Hawaii (he’s never been there), travel to various baseball parks (we even bought a book to log everything about each visit), and generally, just see the good ole USA. I have traveled a couple of times to Europe and while I would like to go again, it’s not my top priority. I do sometimes feel others think I should want to do more of that. I agree the planning is a pain. And I find, when others come back from their trips, you only hear about the negatives once you sit down and really talk about the trip. Most people think others are having all this fun and feel they’re missing out. I’m Ok missing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to laugh about the negatives people talk about! It was that way on our trip to Iceland last year. But I have to say, there are other trips where all I could talk about was the amazing things we saw/did. Maybe I should compare the differences to identify which will be those few trips we will take. We spent most of our working years traveling in the US – I had a goal to visit all 50 states… and I’ve done that now. There’s a few things I still want to see in the good ole USA though… so I know there will be some travel in the future. What’s on your list BTW?


      1. We were just talking about that. Our list includes Hawaii, New England in the fall, Washington DC and Washington State, Route 66. All could include side trips to the Grand Canyon, baseball parks, and visits to relatives. In addition, we hope to snowbird in Florida for three months. We need to prioritize and lay out a plan or the time will pass us by!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rt 66 is a definite on my list! And the Grand Canyon for hubby (I’ve been). We are doing the snowbird again this year… maybe one we are settled in one place I will re-start travel planning – hubby said he might be interested in travel again! I adored Washington State and I grew up in the NorthEast so saw many fall weekends – my first go-back-to state would be southern Utah!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean Pat. When I was made redundant I had a few things I wanted to do but after nearly 3 years I have dropped a few of them. I thought I’d love to be a marriage celebrant but the longer time went on I decided I didn’t want to pay all that money to do a course and then be possibly tied down. I have since removed it from my list and feel lighter for doing so. I volunteer with Rotary and that when and if I can, no real ties, as we travel a lot I do what I can when I can. I’m involved in lots of community groups too and give my time and expertise when I can and I like it that way. #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Pat, I love the idea of a personal possibilities list. I am also going through some changes of heart. I don’t feel the need to do the things that others are doing, so no social pressure in that way, but I often wonder if they have found something beneficial that I am just missing. So I am not taking up golf anytime soon, but I wonder if there is something I would like in golf if I gave it a better shot. I do want to be a bit more social although I am completely content at home. I don’t want to ever feel lonely.

    As for you possible drop items…

    What drew you to want a scooter? What would it give you that you don’t already have? I have no desire for a scooter, but my husband does. He can’t tell me why he wants one!

    Travel- could you compromise and do a little travel with friends? Maybe your husband would like travel more if he had more choice and could pick the type of travel that would suit him? My husband likes to travel, but he also wants a nap every day and a much slower pace than I do. I just do things myself while he relaxes in the hotel or B and B! Maybe a river cruise type of thing where you don’t have to do all the organizing?

    As for volunteering, I think it is about finding the right fit and not doing it just for the sake of doing it. I have tried volunteering with an organization this year and I like the people involved but I am not sure it is the right fit. We’ll see. I think you have to care deeply about the cause!

    Good luck with your possibilities list!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michele – A Personal Possibilities List is one of the things I encourage in my book. Sometimes I feel a bit like “physician, heal thyself” by not doing what I’ve encouraged in my own book!

      Anyway, the scooter thing was totally the vision of flitting down the road looking super cute with my hair flying behind me…. a vision of freedom. Yeah, no helmet, looking cute… not a lot of reality in that. But the sense of freedom… that’s something I can think more on. Maybe that’s your husband’s unarticulated need as well.

      On travel, I am exploring the do-it-with friends approach. Hubby would never say he wanted to go anywhere, but when I do plan things, I’m pretty comfortable with his preferences – lots of walking, no fancy stuff, minimize crowd exposure. I think we will travel again, it will just be a lot less than my “bucket list” would have indicated.

      I’m staying open to volunteer stuff. I took a class in grant writing this past summer to see if that would lead to something, since writing is a skill I do have! Unfortunately grant writing is really more about organizing, aka cat-herding. And it has a 30% success rate. Can you image the negative hit my Imposter Syndrome Psyche would take with a 70% failure rate?

      Ah well, I will continue to be open to possibilities – volunteering, travel buddies, and more.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m not a fan of bucket lists – I feel they set me up for disappointment. And TBH there’s not really very much that I pressingly want to do. I’ll travel some more – probably a bit further down the track when we have less commitments and more $$, I may or may not ever work again, I’m thinking of changing where I volunteer. That’s about it – I’m just loving the whole Unbusy concept and the Slow movement and the idea that we can be satisfied with so much less than society shoves in our faces. I’m glad you’ve had a look at yours and made some realistic adjustments – that’s what life at this age and stage is all about IMHO.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know I love my lists. 🙂 But this was a fun topic to gain perspective from so many folks… about being flexible, about feeling OK to give up dream, about realizing when reality isn’t the same as the vision, and even about celebrating what items I have checked off. Volunteering and travel are still hot buttons for me though and I’ll keep working through them.


  9. Hi Pat, the life list for me is a continual drop and add that evolves as I do. I used to have romantic notions of flitting around town on a Vespa, but finally ruled that out as too dangerous. We love traveling and are always making plans to travel, but that is now. Who knows how the next five years might change that.Florida has a ton of options for “senior travel” that you might want to look into when you get down here. Volunteer work is something I have always done in spurts – two years of this, six months of that. I am taking a break right now, with NO regrets. Lots of food for thought this morning. Thanks for sharing on #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, I’m sensing a lot of us have had that “flitting around on a vespa looking super-cute” vision! Interestingly that vision never has me wearing a helmet, which I’d always wear… vision versus reality – Hah. I like your approach to volunteering… and I have done a couple of things in the past 2 years like that. Maybe I’m just being hard on myself – vision versus reality again! Thanks for that insight!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I can relate about the volunteering, Pat. This has been on my new year’s resolution list for two years now, and I’ve failed miserably. It’s not that there aren’t needy organizations locally that could use some assistance. Rather, none of them unfortunately speak to me in any meaningful way other than my contributing to them financially (which I do). So the pursuit continues, albeit at a slower pace than I should have allowed at this point. I do wish you well on finding your own comfort zone with all the bucket list items. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marty, I think I’m coming to realize that my best volunteer work is as a check-writer. 🙂 At least at the moment. Maybe things will evolve… maybe it will stay like that. Accepting it will stay like that is hard since there’s all the “research” that says how important volunteer work is – for a healthy and long life. Which is why I’m keeping it on the list and being open to possibilities beyond the check-writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Staying flexible is key, which is true mentally as well as physically. I much prefer personal possibilities to bucket lists… it sounds more positive and fun.

    Scooter: I agree with dumping the scooter idea. I admit that I love those cute little pastel scooters I see zooming around, but I think they are way too dangerous (at least where I live). Better to stay all in one piece so you can enjoy your other possibilities.

    Travel: I know it’s not for everyone, and won’t be something I will want to do forever but even a few days away in a new and interesting place makes me happy. Also, I love to take photos and new vistas are inspiring. I see lots of women traveling with each other – divorces, never married, husband doesn’t like to travel… whatever. They always look like they are having so much fun together.

    Volunteering: I haven’t found the right fit for me yet either (although, I admit, I haven’t looked that hard). Maybe one of these days…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, It is always empowering to me when others “admit” the same things – the struggle to find the right volunteer work, giving up the scooter dream. I think it alleviates any shame I feel for being a “failure”…. I’m not the only one. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve made a mental note of things I might like to add to my bucket list however your post has spurred me onto consider writing these down! I find your thoughts on volunteering interesting as I think it’s so important to find the right type of volunteer work for you! You can read my volunteering blog here as well as some other thoughts around retirement, I’d welcome any comments: https://itsthetimeofyourlife.com/2019/10/14/volunteering/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link on volunteering! I’ve really wanted my volunteer work to be about connecting with others who had similar interests & possibly making new friends and also feeling like I’m making an impact. All 3 things I’ve tried failed to do that. I’m still open and will continue to explore. Right now, my best “volunteer work” seems to be check-writing. 🙂

      And yes, I encourage you to add to your own “personal possibilities list”. It’s a great way to keep track of all those “that sounds so cool” things you hear or read about.


  13. Hi, Pat – Once again, you ask very deep and meaningful questions here. I believe it is perfectly natural for items to come off of our bucket lists, no matter how long-held the dream. The good thing is that removed items can always come back onto our lists if our situations (or our desires) change again. I believe that our Bucket LIsts should be dynamic, flexible and free of societal-expectations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, Free of societal-expectations is such a hard one for me… but I continue to work on it. I am realizing that giving up a few of the long-held dreams means recognizing that I am just not ever going to be the person I wanted to be when that dream was created. That can be hard to acknowledge too.


  14. I have a 15 items in the next 15 years. First on the list was old house (city or country?). Well we did it and now have spent most of our disposable time and income on it!
    Helisking is still on it but think I’m going to go cat skiing this year for my 60th and that will be a good substitute. The west coast trek is coming up in a year or two as is the Yukon. So I think our one big project really did sap time and money for many others. But we love our rural life and the house has become a wonderful home so we wouldn’t trade it.
    I “grew” out of wanting to do piano lessons. So it’s off the list. I have “golf lessons” on it but honestly it’s because my other half is a golfer. I’d rather go hiking or read a book or go for a swim. I find it a frustrating game and too time consuming. I feel like it’s an expectation that I golf when we both retire but I’m not sure I will.
    So it all does change as we age and circumstances change. I guess it’s important to look at it and think back to who we were when we wrote it and reflect on if that’s still who we are and what we want today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bernie, I had a similar suggestion (Via my FB post) from friends who had their 30 by 30 and 40 by 40 lists. I might look at a 10 in the next 10. I should have added into this post I did check off quite a few bucket list items since retirement…. or maybe that’s another post! I also like your “grow out of” phrase and will use it in the future. Hubby and I did tennis lessons a few years back because we just couldn’t face golf, but wanted to learn how to “resort”. Neither of us became an avid tennis player. I think our next “sport” is shuffleboard! Seriously, there’s a huge club in St Petersburg; it’s a big deal down there. I will continue to reflect on who I am today as I relook at my possibilities list and decide what my 10 in next 10 might be.


  15. I have a bucket list that sits behind my 101 things to do in 1001 days. I’m constantly changing it although there have been some things that have taken longer than they should to drop off the list because I’ve felt that they “should” be there, that the bucket list isn’t complete without them. It’s taken me to realise that I actually don’t want to do it to strike a line through it and own that. (Hello running 10km…I’m looking at you!) Seriously though, it should represent you and your growth – and that is an ever-changing thing, as indeed it should be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, Love it… a bucket list would not be complete without a few shoulds! OK, that’s not what you said, but it’s such a true statement. Of course, I never, ever had running a 10Km on my bucket list. I’ve always joked that my pre-nup agreement said “I will not run”. I married a runner, many of my friends are runners, I hate to run. Give me a nice long walk, even up and down some hills, but not a run. I’m curious, what else was on your bucket list that now has a strike-through?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. aaaah that would be telling…. Walking up Mt Tongariro (NZ) is one though… After doing Milford Track and struggling with the Mackinnon Pass I immediately removed anything else that had a mountain in the middle of it. And I so agree with you re the running these days – we pass so many each morning while we’re walking and I’m sure I look happier than they do!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Pat,
    Now that I am into this whole third age thing, I am recognizing that it will likely change as we are living it. No apologies needed by any of us. Lives change, circumstances change, and priorities change. And that is OK. And the fact that these ideas continue to shift indicates that we are still growing and learning and finding out what is important to us IN THIS MOMENT.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nancy, I love how you said this! I’ve been thinking a lot about being more in the moment! And yeah, still growing, still understanding my true self. Live change for sure… and my life is about to have a major shift. Time for some brand new bucket list items perhaps!


  17. Hi Pat! I so appreciate your honesty with addressing these issues. I’m betting that a LOT of us ask ourselves the same questions so you are helping to make that easier. Of course I’m not yet retired so I don’t have quite the same questions–yet–but maybe they will? And funny how I do have thoughts about each of the items you mentioned.

    #1 Buying a scooter. Been there, got the license. Hurt myself. Decided a bicycle was all I needed 🙂 Although I am REALLY tempted with the new motorized assist bicycles for those hilly areas!

    #2 I LOVE to travel and planning is part of the process. I’m lucky my husband does too but he still works so I have to balance that and the finances that come along with it. BUT…if he didn’t want to I would find a friend who wanted to travel and try that out. You can practice with weekends away and then perhaps go from there. There are also more and more travel companies for women that are getting good reviews. I would be interested in those if Thom’s wasn’t a traveler.

    #3 Volunteering. Absolutely every thing i have read about this topic reminds me that it is beneficial for us mentally and physically. I get that it isn’t always easy to find a fit…but I think perfectionism might suggest that there is a “perfect” fit and if you can’t find it…don’t bother. But if my experience and reading mean anything…jus DO IT. If you like to read, go to the library. If you like pets, go to an animal shelter, if you like hiking and being outdoors…go to a park or nature center. Just 2 little hours a week is supposed to make a HUGE difference in our own mind, body and emotions.

    Do I have my own list? Yep. And while I don’t do the 3 month or seasonal thing, I do think it is so important to look ahead. Thanks for the reminder! ~Kathy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, I had a LOL moment… did I mention somewhere that hubby bought me an electric bike since he realized I was never going to get the scooter? Seriously. I’ve only used it a couple of times, but it’s really nice on the hills! And it feels like a bicycle… going a bit faster than usual, but still a bicycle. (And yes, I wear a helmet on the bike!).

      I’ve reached out to a couple of women (In Florida) who travel together as their husband’s don’t like to travel. I think they are planning a trip to Peru. I know they do not want their group to get too big, but maybe that will be an option for me. If not, I will look into other things… especially once we are settled in one location and not doing a “1000 mile road trip” every couple of months.

      And volunteer work… I will continue to explore. Again, with the move, there’s going to be a start-up curve. I’ve seen the data. Right now, I’ve stuck with the 2 things I’ve engaged in here in Cinci. (it’s more like 3 hours a month).


  18. I don’t have a tangible bucket list at this point, Pat. Right now I am consumed with my major move across the country in 2020. But I should give this some thought!

    Travel – I love it but realize it’s not for everyone. The more you do it the easier it gets, in terms of trip planning, packing. When I travel, I deliberately underschedule, to leave plenty of room for spontaneity and sudden changes of plans. I also go with low expectations (just one or two must-sees per trip) and every trip is a delight, as a result. I’ve never regretted travel – I’ve only regretted not being able to do more of it and not being able to do more when I was younger.

    However, when I began to travel I used to start every trip with high anxiety – looking around (and already missing) my cozy home, thinking “why I am doing this again?!?!” That doesn’t happen to me anymore. 🙂

    So if you feel you’d like to travel more Pat, I’d suggest starting out with something small – like a weekend away to some place new, or 5 day trip.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, I traveled extensively when I worked. Hubby stayed home, managing the home front. I guess I’ve seen travel get more and more challenging through the years – more lines, more crowds wherever you go, less politeness, more expensive. I’m not writing it off completely, but I am pulling back on my personal expectations. And with our own move, no big travel planned at all in 2020! (Except for those little 1000 mile jaunts between current homes).

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Having been a motor claims manager in the UK for years, I can tell you that the motorcyclist always comes off worst. Why jeopardise the rest of your retirement? I feel that having done the course you can tick the box and feel happy to let that one go.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I totally agree with letting go of travel in retirement!! It definitely felt “supposed to do” rather than I want to. Totally agree that the stress of planning/packing/traveling often wasn’t worth the sites. I’ve decided to reject Rick Steve’s.😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to hear about others who have let go of the travel in retirement… I have no role models for this choice. Everyone I know IRL who is retired is constantly planning their next trip. Almost all my blogging buddies as well execute big and small travel plans. It was interesting that when my hubby read this post, and with our planned move, said “Maybe we will travel a bit more when we’re settled in Florida.”! I think it’s his compromise to the move. And maybe “a bit” will be a good amount.

      Liked by 1 person

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