- Written by Terry Turner
Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator
Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).Read More
- Edited ByLamia Chowdhury
Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.Read More
- Financially Reviewed ByStephen Kates, CFP®
Stephen Kates, CFP®
Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and Founder of Clocktower Financial Consulting
Stephen Kates is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and personal finance expert with over a decade of experience working with individuals and families who need help with their finances. With experience as a financial advisor for two of the largest financial firms in the country, Stephen has worked with hundreds of clients to build comprehensive financial plans to grow and protect their wealth.Read More
- Published: May 22, 2023
- Updated: October 20, 2023
- 8 min read time
- This page features 6 Cited Research Articles
The symbolic meaning behind a bucket list is the tangible recognition of mortality, according to Stanford Medicine. A retirement bucket list allows you to reflect on what matters most – from your personal values and identity, to important life milestones and experiences that you want to have before a certain time in your life.
Linda Chavez, the founder and CEO of Seniors Life Insurance Finder, offered insight on the importance of creating a retirement bucket list.
“A bucket list is an important tool for seniors to help them stay motivated and enjoy life as they age. Bucket lists offer seniors the opportunity to set meaningful goals, challenge themselves, and look back on accomplishments with pride.”
“Completing a bucket list can also provide a sense of purpose and encourage seniors to reflect on their life experiences in meaningful ways.” Chavez told RetireGuide.
Instead of a generalized retirement bucket list, RetireGuide compiled multiple tiers of retirement bucket list ideas to fit your individual lifestyle.
There are six retirement buckets in total, each with a different overall retirement goal, such as social connection during retirement or focusing on your own personal interests. Every road to retirement looks different and our bucket lists can help you find fulfillment in your golden years.
That being said, you can choose goals from different buckets if you have multiple retirement goals.
Setting aspirational retirement goals can make the planning for retirement easier when you have activities and events to look forward to. Maintaining your health up to and into retirement is an important part of a robust retirement. When you have planned adequately, you can confidently spend money on your chosen splurges. As a relative of mine is fond of saying, “If I don’t fly first class, then my children will!"
- Social Life
- If you’re looking to widen your social circle and deepen connections, this bucket list is for you.
- Personal Interests
- This bucket list is intended for you to add new skills to your tool belt, like learning a new instrument or language.
- Travel and Adventure
- If you’ve bulked up your retirement investments and are ready to splurge on unique travel destinations, consider adding these adventures to your retirement itinerary.
- Giving Back and Community Involvement
- This bucket is for those looking to volunteer, donate or participate in community events.
- Outdoor Lovers
- This bucket list has a blend of green thumb goals you can accomplish in your own backyard and must-see travel spots for nature lovers.
- Legacy and Life Reflection
- This bucket is best for those interested in leaving a legacy, writing a memoir, creating a family history tree or completing a significant personal project.
Bucket List Ideas Based on Your Social Life
The bucket list below is based on your social life. It’s best for those prioritizing friendships, relationships and community bonding throughout their golden years. If you want new friends to accompany you, consider using online platforms like Meetup or Senior Planet Community.
According to the National Library of Medicine, frequently going to social outings can be an effective treatment for older adults with anxiety and depression, and can improve their overall quality of life. If you feel socially isolated at times, adding one of the bucket list ideas below could improve your mental health.Social Life Ideas
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- Attend a concert or festival with friends.
- Join a social club or group based on your interests.
- Take a class or workshop on a topic you're interested in.
- Host a dinner party or potluck with friends and acquaintances.
- Start a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
- Try online dating or join a dating app.
- Attend a book club or writing group.
- Take a weekend trip with your friends.
- Join a recreational sports league or a pick-up game.
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Bucket List Ideas Based on Your Personal Interests
It’s important to continue developing your personal interests and learn new things in retirement. According to Harvard Health Publishing, practicing a new and challenging activity is good for building and maintaining your cognitive skills.Personal Interest Ideas
- Learn a new language and visit a country where that language is spoken.
- Learn how to bind books.
- Take cooking classes and prepare new dishes.
- Make a diorama out of your collectibles.
- Learn how to play a musical instrument.
- Take up a new hobby like painting, pottery or woodworking.
- Read classic novels or watch critically-acclaimed movies from different eras or cultures.
- Attend art shows, theater productions or musical performances.
- Take a dance class.
- Join a fitness class, like yoga or Pilates.
- Try a new outdoor activity like hiking, camping or skiing.
- Attend a cultural festival or event.
Bucket List Ideas Based on Travel and Adventure
Traveling can have a positive impact on your mental health by reducing stress while increasing creativity and productivity, according to the Mental Health Association in Delaware.
If you’re feeling stressed and unmotivated, adding some fun travel options to your retirement bucket list can improve your quality of life.
You can take a road trip, go on a cruise or visit unique landmarks like the ones listed below.Travel and Adventure Ideas
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- Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat with otherworldly landscapes.
- Petra, an ancient city carved into pink sandstone cliffs.
- Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, with towering sandstone pillars that inspired landscapes in the hit movie, Avatar.
- Socotra, a remote island with unique flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth.
- Cappadocia, known for its fairy chimneys, ancient cave dwellings and hot air balloon rides.
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, a stunning lagoon filled with icebergs and surrounded by glaciers.
- Raja Ampat, a group of islands with some of the world's most diverse coral reefs and marine life.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park, a series of interconnected lakes and waterfalls that create a stunning natural wonderland.
- Easter Island, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean known for its mysterious giant stone statues called Moai.
- Banff National Park, a beautiful park filled with crystal-clear lakes, soaring mountains and abundant wildlife.
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Bucket List Ideas Based on Giving Back and Community Involvement
Volunteering and giving back to your community can help you battle loneliness by rekindling your sense of purpose and human connection.
According to the Institute for Health Care Policy & Innovation, a recent study showed a third of individuals 50 to 80 years old reported feelings of loneliness and isolation, or that they even go a week or more without socializing with anyone outside their household. Some of these bucket list ideas can help improve your personal fulfillment and connection with others in retirement.Giving Back and Community Involvement Ideas
- Volunteer Regularly
- Americorps, a federal agency for national service and volunteerism, has an online tool to help you find volunteer opportunities near you.
- Become a Mentor
- Help a young person achieve their goals by offering guidance and support. You can use Mentor National’s tool to help connect you with someone to begin your mentorship.
- Organize a Neighborhood Clean-Up
- Gather your community to clean up a local park, beach or street.
- Donate Blood or Plasma
- Make a difference in your community by donating blood or plasma.
- Start a Community Garden
- Create a green space with your neighbors and grow fresh produce to donate to a local food bank.
- Participate in a Charity Walk or Run
- Join an event that raises funds for a cause you care about.
- Teach a Class
- Share your expertise by teaching a class at a local community center or school.
- Adopt or Foster a Pet
- Provide a loving home for a rescued pet from a shelter.
Bucket List Ideas Based on Outdoor Lovers
A breath of fresh air and greenery can provide you with many mental and physical benefits, according to the West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center. Just 15 minutes of sunlight can provide your daily dose of vitamin C, which lessens the risk of osteoporosis, cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
If any of the ideas listed below sound enticing to you, consider adding them to your retirement bucket list.Ideas for Outdoor Lovers
- Plant a tree in your yard and watch it grow for years to come.
- Go on a camping trip at a nearby national park.
- Create a garden that's dedicated to a particular theme, such as a butterfly garden or a herb garden.
- Convert your grass yard into an eco-friendly oasis with native plants and flowers.
- Learn to paddle board or kayak.
- Volunteer at a plant nursery.
- Go on a hike to see mountain views or a waterfall.
- Start a backyard garden with fresh produce.
- Go on a fishing trip.
- Go stargazing on a night with shooting stars or for a scheduled comet sighting.
Bucket List Ideas Based on Legacy and Life Reflection
Leaving a legacy and reflecting upon your accomplishments is an important part of growing older. While skydiving and travel are always fun bucket list items, reminiscing on the mark you’ve left on this world and its future may be just as important for you.Legacy and Life Reflection IdeasHow To Tell Your Life Story in 6 Simple Steps
- Create a time capsule for future generations to open.
- Visit your ancestral homeland.
- Create a trust fund to help pay for your grandchildren's college tuition.
- Write a memoir of your life experiences.
- Ensure generational wealth by opening a Roth IRA for your grandchildren.
- Leave a charitable legacy to a cause that’s important to you.
- Create a family history tree to document your lineage.
- Complete a significant life project, like fixing up a car.
- Create a family recipe book.
Editor Malori Malone contributed to this article.Advertisement
Connect With a Financial Advisor InstantlyLast Modified: October 20, 2023
6 Cited Research Articles
- Institute for Health Care Policy & Innovation. (2023, March 13). On Pandemic’s Third Anniversary, Loneliness and Isolation Are Down, but Still High, Among Older Adults. Retrieved from https://ihpi.umich.edu/news/pandemics-third-anniversary-loneliness-and-isolation-are-down-still-high-among-older-adults
- Mental Health Association in Delaware. (2022, August 1). The Impact of Travel on Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.mhainde.org/the-impact-of-travel-on-mental-health/
- National Library of Medicine. (2022, June 27). Improving Mental Health and Social Participation Outcomes in Older Adults With Depression and Anxiety: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9236237/
- West Hartford Health& Rehabilitation Center. (2022, May 20). Why Older Adults Should Spend Time Outdoors. Retrieved from https://westhartfordhealth.com/news/senior-health/spend-time-outdoors/
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2021, February 15). Train Your Brain. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/train-your-brain
- National Institute on Aging. (2021, January 14). Loneliness and Social Isolation — Tips for Staying Connected. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/loneliness-and-social-isolation-tips-staying-connected
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