Create Your Bucket List or Life List Now

By Michael Trickey, author of Finding Home Over 50: Achieving Your Housing Needs and Life List Dreams in Retirement

Establish Your Life List

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.”

                  –Doug Larson 

You are likely familiar with the term “bucket list” or, as I prefer to call it,  “life list”, and may have a vague notion of what is on our own list. Few of us have actually taken the time to sit down and write one out. As an initial step in planning for your retirement years, this article walks you through the steps to formally create your bucket list or life list now. As you do, you will begin to clearly see that the items listed will have a big bearing on where and how you ultimately decide to live.

For instance, what if you want to get a college degree? Can you do this online, or would you need to move to a town with post-secondary schools? What if you want to learn to speak Spanish fluently? You might want to move to Barcelona for a couple of years. Or perhaps you want to become a master fisherman?Maybe you want to move close to an ocean or lake, or live on a houseboat.

While a couple of items for your life list may pop into your mind right away, the next section provides a few suggestions and some questions to help you, along with some websites you can peruse that are devoted to helping people create their life lists. 

Suggestions for Creating Your Life List

Many people and websites talk about a life list as if it is a dream list. In a sense it is, but it goes well beyond that. A life list is a list of dreams that you strive to actually make come true. Think of it as a list of intentions, not simply wishes. The act of writing your list has a powerful impact on your mind; writing your list with emotion and intention magnifies that power many times over.

Do not be afraid to initially write down everything that pops into your mind. Brainstorming will get your mind going, creating a flow. Brainstorming will get your mind going, creating a flow. Capture everything for now, no matter how mundane. Then go back and consider each item and your true intentions to whittle down your list.

When editing your list, you might want to create a personal theme that defines what your life will be` and set goals around it. Ask yourself what you would like your life to look like over the next few years. Establish a vision, and make that your theme. Once you have your theme, you can focus and prioritize your goals.

For each item that stays on your refined list, identify a timeline for achievement. Start with goals for this year and progress outward. Pick at least one item you can do rather quickly, and do something today towards achieving it.

Some items may have no defined timeframe, but setting one helps your subconscious and conscious mind focus. It is like cramming for an exam. When we set deadlines, we are more apt to get things done. Make sure that you factor in required physical endurance and mobility so that you can target to achieve the more strenuous items while younger.

Categorize your list into general areas of life, big and small goals, and include variations of each goal that are more and less difficult.

Some general area of life categories for goals may include:

  1. Personal Development
  2. Learning and Education
  3. Health and Fitness
  4. Travel
  5. Business and Career
  6. Adventure
  7. Food
  8. Financial
  9. Relationship
  10. Fun
  11. Creative
  12. Crazy

As you write items within each life category, make them engaging with action words. Include on your list things you can do for very little money and without needing to travel, as well as those that might be more expensive or extravagant.

For the more involved items, think through progressive levels of challenge, complexity, or achievement. For instance, let’s say you put “attend a professional sporting event” on your list. You might include:

  1. Go to a professional football game at the stadium of my favorite team
  2. Go to a professional football game at the stadium of every team in my favorite team’s division
  3. Go to a playoff game
  4. Go to the Super Bowl

You can do the same sort of tiering with practically anything. Your variations could progress from watching a local theater production to flying to New York and seeing a Broadway musical. You could start with learning a favorite recipe as an easy variation and end with becoming a trained chef as the difficult variation. You get the idea.

Write your list in a personal manner that reflects your personality, interests, idiosyncrasies, and quirks. Go beyond the typical list items. Do not restrict yourself because you are worried about how others will react. Do not leave off items that at first glance may seem to be unachievable. You may not fully achieve some items on the list, but that is okay. There are no bucket list police watching you. If you want to achieve something, then write it down. Remember, the act of doing so sends a powerful message to your brain, and your odds of success instantly go up.

Self-Reflection Questions to Stimulate Ideas for Your Life List

Here are some self-reflection questions that may stimulate your mind for coming up with ideas for your life list.

  1. What person or people would you like to meet?
  2. What places would you like to visit?
  3. What would you like to do while you are at each of the places?
  4. What skillsets would you like to learn?
  5. What challenges would you like to overcome?
  6. Are there life list goals that you have considered but not pursued because you think you would be embarrassed if anyone knew about them?
  7. Is there something that you use, enjoy, or consume that you would like to know how to produce? For instance:
    • Music;
    • Art;
    • Books;
    • Movies;
    • Types of food;
    • Restored classical cars?
  8. What are you doing when you imagine yourself as:
    • Relaxed;
    • Happy;
    • Awestruck;
    • Excited?
  9. Is there anything in your life about which you were once very passionate, but stopped exploring as you grew older?

Some Sources of Ideas for Your Life List

Many websites are devoted to bucket list and life list ideas. For instance, check out:


Or just search for “bucket list” or “life list” using your favorite Internet search tool.

Suggestions for Achieving Items on Your Life List

Make your list official. Pick a format that works for you: pen and paper, word processor, white board and markers, smartphone, or whatever you like. Decorate your background, use fancy print, draw and paste pictures of your goals on it, put the word “Official” at the top, or do whatever you think gives it a feeling of being special. This is your custom, personalized life list.

Once your list is designed and completed to your liking, put it in a prominent place where you will see it every day. It now represents your life, not a side project.

The official list should only include the items you intend to make reality. Set tests for what stays on the official list and what does not. For instance, for each item, ask yourself:

  1. Am I doing this because I want to experience it, or simply because I want to say I have done it?
  2. Will I realistically invest the amount of time, money, and energy this will require to make this happen?
  3. Can I picture this happening within my overall lifestyle plan?
  4. Can I become fully invested—heart, soul, mind, and body—in accomplishing this?

Set aside time each week to work on achieving something on your life list. For instance, dedicate two hours every Wednesday evening to either planning or doing something on your list. Make a call, check on pricing, figure out needed training, equipment, or travel documents, or do something that moves you towards your goals. As you go along, add expected costs for each item. Use rough ideas initially, and then refine the figures. Take the time to make progress.

Track your progress to hold yourself accountable, stay on track, see the big picture, and keep yourself motivated. Cross off items when you achieve them. This has a rewarding and motivating effect. Do not worry if you do not accomplish everything on the list. Knocking off a large number of items on the list is still going to mean you have greatly enriched your life.

It is a good idea to surround yourself with others who are actively pursuing their own life lists due to a concept that social psychologists call social contagion. If you spend time with people trying to achieve their lists, you will feed off of their excitement and willpower to achieve your own. You can share ideas for items to put on your life lists, and give each other inspiration.

Your life list is not a write-it-once-and-it-is-done list; it is a living, breathing document. Keep it up-to-date. At some point you may lose interest in an item, or you may realize the effort is not worth the payoff. Cross it off the list. Do not feel guilty for doing this. Reluctance to prune items will make the list less relevant to you and may cause you to abandon it. Keep the list fresh and meaningful to you at all times. Just like you can prune items, you can add new items at any time. You may discover something else you want to do while pursuing another list item. Your life list peer group may inspire you to add another item. Keep filling your list with new items, taking care that when you add an item, you really intend to do it, and set a timeframe.

Enjoy the journey of accomplishing things on the list. It is not just achieving each item that matters – it is also the process of doing so.

About the Author Uncategorized

Michael Trickey will speak about retirement planning at your event

Michael Trickey is author of two books. The first is geared toward first-time homebuyers, and the second toward retirees and soon-to-be retirees. Both books address topics of real estate and financial planning, and latter also addresses retirement planning and achieving life list goals.

The books are entitled:

1. Finding Home: Everything You Need to Know – And Do – For Home Buying Success

2. Finding Home – Over 50: Achieving Your Housing Needs and Life List Dreams in Retirement

Michael is a CPA, and an expert in residential real estate finance transactions. With 40 years of experience in the field, he can help those in your audience to handle real estate and financial planning, management, and retirement issues.

With regard to topics in his second book, Michael will come on your show or event and talk about preparing for retirement. The primary focus will be on how retirees and soon-to-be-retirees can align their housing choices and their life list dreams to achieve a more satisfying and comfortable life in their senior years.

Michael wrote Finding Home Over 50 to help his readers through the entire retirement planning process. He breaks the myriad of steps into bite-sized tasks.

Michael can speak to your audience about:
1. Assessing their retirement readiness from the standpoint of job, aging parents, children living at home, health, and other factors
2. Seriously considering what they would like to accomplish in their remaining years, and how and why to create and maintain a life list of goals
3. Assessing their expected remaining life, what it will cost to live each year in retirement, and total remaining lifetime financial needs
4. Preparing a current balance sheet to determine the financial foundation starting point
5. Analyzing future expected earnings, expenses, and cash flows from drawing down assets
6. Creating plans for decreasing expenses and increases cash inflows
7. Analyzing other strategic actions prior to retirement to improve the financial foundation:
a. Contributions to retirement plans
b. Acquiring long-term care insurance
c. Managing whole life insurance
d. Maintaining adequate property and other insurance to protect against biggest risks
e. Avoiding large one-time expenses
f. Keeping a diversified investment portfolio
g. Avoiding the need to sell assets in a down market
h. Looking for investments that pay dividends and interest
i. Potentially buying an annuity
j. Taking advantage of senior discounts
k. Getting rid of possessions in an orderly fashion
l. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan
M. Making planned charitable contributions while making income against with tax deductions can be taken
n. Considering a reverse mortgage
8. Discussing how to create a formal retirement plan
9. Discussing strategies for maximizing benefits from Social Security, Medicare, Pensions, and other retirement plans
10. Discussing strategies and techniques for decluttering and making money while doing so.
11. Discussing the meaning of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), how to assess the the capability to perform them, and how to interpret the results
12. Discussing independent living, semi-independent living, assisted living, and nursing home options, meanings, and costs
13. Discussing how to decide where to live, from state to city to neighborhood to home, in a manner that maximizes retirement goals
14. Discussing what modifications and home features facilitate being able to live independently and age in place
15. Discussing the meaning of home healthcare and home care, and how to make use of them both to independently age in place.
16. Exploring neighborhoods and homes
17. Discussing the ins and outs of reverse mortgages
11. How to organize estate documents, and what do they need to gather.
12. Getting their mortgage loan
13. Inspections and pre-closing preparations
14. Closing on their home
15. Things to do before moving
16. Moving in and securing their home

Please send inquiries to:

Michael W. Trickey, CPA
553 Capital Drive, Lake Zurich, IL 60047
847-540-6554 x204
Websites:, and
Twitter accounts: @trickeytweet, @FindingHomeBook Facebook Account: MichaelTrickeyAuthor LinkedIn: Michael-Trickey-a137197