Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bucket lists: If you need one, here's how

"It’s not the listing, it’s the doing that’s important. Why not make a list of one thing at a time.
 Do that and then go to the next one,”  ---  Al Bernstein, psychologist and book author.

"The Origins of 'Bucket List'  - WSJ - click here.

How to write a bucket list
- Give yourself time to reflect on your interests, not just destinations.
- Make a one-year goal list but also have a “sometime” list.
- Keep your lists short. It’s the doing that has meaning.
- Mix big and small goals.
- Keep your list financially and physically within reach.

“That’s on my bucket list.”
Cynthia Anderson hears clients say that all the time.
“To be honest, people have always had lists of where they want to go, what they want to see,” Anderson, owner of USA River Cruises Inc., said. “But now, bucket lists are mentioned quite a bit. It’s certainly become a marketing tool for travel publications…I see it all the time.”
Anderson, who books river cruises both in the U.S. and abroad, is inspired by clients who say that “this is on my bucket list, now I’m going to do this.”

So is Nancy Parrott, vice president and general manager at Azumano Travel with offices in Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, Wash.

“There’s quite a variety of ideas on peoples’ lists,” Parrott said. “Someone may want to go on a safari in Uganda to look at gorillas. Someone else might want to visit Iceland.”
The idea of a list has become so popular that Azumano staff give presentations on how to create a bucket list, Parrott said.

A quick Internet search turns up dozens of Web sites devoted to bucket lists – how to write them, suggestions for what might go on your list. There’s even a Web site called where you sign up to compare your list to other peoples’ lists and share comments on successes and failures. The site has 245,130 members who are tracking 3.36 million goals, sharing advice and keeping score.
It’s all about things people want to do or accomplish before they kick the bucket, just like the two characters played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List,” which imbedded the concept in our minds.

While some bucket lists include personal goals related to weight-loss, running a marathon or earning an advanced college degree, most are travel- or event-related. With more baby boomers aging into retirement every day, people -- list in hand -- are out there seeing the world.
But are bucket lists really a good idea?

Vancouver psychologist Al Bernstein has his reservations.

“I wouldn’t put a list of 10 things together because between now and when I finish the list my ideas might change,” Bernstein said. “What I might want to do could change even next year.” It’s not the listing, it’s the doing that’s important, he said.
“Why not make a list of one thing at a time. Do that and then go to the next one,” he said.
On the other hand, Bernstein said that if having a list helps you get things done then making a list may be helpful -- if it’s short and you keep it simple.

List considerations

In addition to psychological issues related to bucket lists, there are financial considerations. Women especially may be tempted to spend money on short-term rewards such as a family vacation to the Baja or a trip to Disney World with the grandkids, say financial planning experts. But if the trip racks up expensive credit card debt and cuts into retirement savings, then a less expensive weekend outing at the beach may be a better option.

Recreation specialist Becky Anderson with the city of Vancouver (Wash.) Parks & Recreation Department says that there’s plenty to do and see in the Pacific Northwest. Her department arranges three or four day-trips and over-night tours a week for seniors, 50 and older year-round. Offerings include music events, gardening classes and museum visits. Some trips cost as little as $25 while more elaborate over-night travel such as an Amtrak round-trip to Leavenworth, Wash. at Christmas time might cost as much a $1,085, she said.

“Traveling, hiking, a beach trip, they all give people something to look forward to,” Anderson said. “We do a hot air balloon trip every year out of Newberg, Ore. Lots of people have that on their buck list.”

My guess is that every county in the U.S. has a similar service for seniors through parks and rec departments.

Baby boomers are stepping away from full-time work and setting out to travel before their knees give out. The travel service for seniors, Road Scholar, already is offering educational excursions to Cuba.  I know someone who just completed a river trip on the Amazon River. Next year, it will be a river cruise in Portugal and Spain.

 How to write a bucket list

So how best to develop your bucket list?  Experts say taking time to think about your interests is a good way to start.

“Let’s say you’ve always been interested in the history of the Titanic,” said Azumano’s Nancy Parrott. “What you may not know is that you can visit its resting place off the coast of Newfoundland by boat as part of a travel package.”

Here’s what Parrott and others suggest in making a bucket list:
- Keep it short.
- Make sure your list fits your physical and financial picture and your lifestyle.
- It’s an evolving process. You can add things to your list or take them off.
- Think outside the box by first considering your interests, not destinations.
- Don’t think of a bucket list as a competitive sport. It’s not about posting it to Facebook but accomplishing something that has meaning for you.

Psychologist Bernstein even objects to the term bucket list.
“These are things we most want to do before we die,” he said. “They are life goals. Saying they are on a bucket list cheapens the intention and the meaning.” A better way to approach it, he said, may be to stop writing your bucket list and start living it.

Helpful Web sites:

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