Writing Your Bucket List: Living a More Joy-Filled Life

A few year’s ago Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman starred in a movie with the same title. It’s a fun flick about two fellows who go on a road trip with a wish list of thing they wanted to do before they “kicked the bucket” and passed on.

At the beginning of this year I started writing my bucket list, including special dreams I want to accomplish in the coming years. So far I’ve identified travel, relationship experiences, personal aspirations, professional goals, helping others, plus really FUN stuff!

Here are three of my international trip examples—Greece, Italy, and Costa Rica. In January I joined the Road Scholar program to learn more about interesting travel opportunities for folks like me who are age 55+. (Other groups are good, too.) I also renewed my passport.

I’m enjoying the process, as I put each item into my bucket with care. This means no impulsive additions as I identify what resonates with my spirit . . . not chasing other people’s dreams. (Occasionally I will edit the list, adding or subtracting items as life changes.) ALSO, I know I’ll need to allocate certain resources to achieve what I want to do. These may include: money, time, research, negotiating skills (as in working out family events), etc.

My list is more than a collection of annual “big grin goals.” In addition to some short-term activities, it includes several aspirations that will take longer to realize.

I’m telling friends and family about what’s on my bucket list, when appropriate, especially if they might be involved in certain activities. Indeed, after sharing with a friend that I wanted to take a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, she expressed interest in doing the same. We’ve now signed on to do this as part of a group trip later in the spring. Hey! This bucket list process really works!

I invite you to consider creating your own bucket list, which can result in more joy and satisfaction for you, too. If you decide to participate in this exercise, what’s going on your list?

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About the author

Kathleen Rehl, Ph.D., CFP®

Kathleen M. Rehl, Ph.D., Certified Financial Planner® has assisted individuals with life-centered, comprehensive financial planning in her “fee-only” practice at Rehl Financial Advisors since 1996. She is a Registered Investment Advisor, serving as a trusted guide and fiduciary.

Frequently invited to speak on the topic of widows and their financial issues at national and regional events, Kathleen has also been published in many sources and quoted in publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Money, and Consumer Reports. She was named as one of the country’s 100 great financial planners by Mutual Funds magazine.

Kathleen’s world changed forever when her husband and business partner died of cancer in 2007. Then five weeks later her widowed mother also passed. It was from her personal grief experiences that Kathleen’s life purpose evolved—helping other widows to be more self-confident, knowledgeable and secure about their money matters. She is passionate about empowering her “widowed sisters” to take control of their financial future.

Her loss motivated Kathleen to publish Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows. This guidebook helps widows stabilize their new financial situation, avoid making big mistakes and make progress in their changed life. New widows, especially, are in such a fragile emotional state, vulnerable to acting on inaccurate, or even worse, unethical advice provided by untrustworthy sources. She presents information in an easy-to-understand manner, along with issues of the heart, to help widows face their very different life ahead. This unique book includes a beautiful format, helping to heal a woman's soul while focusing on money issues.

The March 2011 issue of "Your Guide to a Richer Retirement," a newsletter produced by Kiplinger's Retirement Report, recommends Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows. U.S. News and World Report also featured the book in a special story.

Widows transitioning into their new financial life may use this book on their own or with the guidance of a professional. It may be given as a gift to a family member or friend who is widowed. Some organizations using the guidebook are: many U.S. Army posts; the national ELCA Foundation; hospice services; community support groups; funeral homes and congregations.

One Comment

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  • I just feel like I have lost the joy feeling. It just seems like things I used to enjoy and be excited about just arent anything anymore. I have a terrible relationship with my husband. He has tried and talked about committing suicide so many times I am just ready to say go ahead because I am tired of hearing about it.
    We have been married 32 yr and have 4 children that are grown. I feel like this has been heald over me so for long that now I just dont care. But along with this I have just started to notice that things that I loved to do or go to I just have no desire to do or care. I recently was diagnosed with RA and before this I was extremely busy person. Over the past few mnths I have been working with a Dr to get my meds figured out with the RA. Can you help me figure this out. My husband and I are going to marriage counseling and it is helping with our relationship but I just have been realistic that my problem is the JOY in my life.

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