Using your reverse bucket list to create your best retirement

old age, leisure, retirement and people concept - happy senior woman with coffee and notebook dreaming at street cafe

Image: dolgachov/

The bucket list concept—things you want to do before you kick the bucket— is well known. Your reverse bucket list comes from what you’ve already done.

I found the concept in a tweet and post from Denise Taylor, who I follow. Denise is a 50+ coach and she suggests the following:

To create your own reverse bucket list, look back over your life and answer these questions:

What are you proud of? 

What have you accomplished? 

What was challenging or scary . . . but you did it anyway?

That’s a fascinating way to reflect on your life. What comes to mind for you? As you reflect on each of these, there should be warm thoughts because these are achievements. Your achievements.

‘Completing this can help you feel positive for all the things you have done,’ says Denise, ‘and is useful to refer to when you need a boost.’

And you can also use this information as you look forward—as you consider your retirement. There are two ways these questions can help with retirement planning.

1. To help understand what you take into retirement

What are you proud of? It may not be a what, but a who—your family, for instance. How can you demonstrate that to them.

Then again, it may be an award you received. It may be a sporting achievement. Or something else. Can you use these to open doors to other adventures that you’ll have time to follow up on?

What have you accomplished? Are you able to use things such as work skills/ academic achievements/ hobbies—add your other accomplishments here—in your retirement?

What was challenging or scary . . . but you did it anyway? Bungy jumping may not make the list again—after a certain age, there are certain things that should not be tried. Perhaps the big point is to realise that you took a risk back then—or on those occasions—and overcame your fear. You can bring that attitude into retirement.

2. As a guide for your retirement

This is taking these questions and putting them in the future tense.

What are you proud of? What is it that you would like to be proud of doing in your retirement. It’s worth recognising that you could be retired for 20-30 years. That’s time enough to do many things you could be proud of.

What have you accomplished? What is it you want to accomplish in your retirement years? What immediately comes to mind? Staying healthy? Starting a new hobby? Travel?

What was challenging or scary . . . but you did it anyway? How will you challenge yourself? When will you give that speech? Do a public performance on a musical instrument? Display your art? Or what is it that scares you?

Of course, if you want to keep these questions in the past tense, imagine you’re on your death bed thinking back on your retirement. What is it you want to have achieved in these three areas?

Your retirement may be like a fresh start in life, but it’s also a continuation. Denise Taylor may have helped you find another way to think about what you’ll want achieve in your retirement.


Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of

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Category: Attitude, Planning, Purpose

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