As we turn the pages of our calendar with each birthday, we’re reminded that another year has passed, we’re another year older and our bodies innately continue the rhythm of natural aging with or without our approval.
For most of us, each new year brings with it a list of goals we’d like to cross off our list within a specific period of time.
Our lists can be specific or assumed and start early in life. High schoolers usually have some type of graduation plan in place by age 18. By age 21 most young adults are trying to make career decisions in hopes to get started early on the “right” financial path for their future.
From there, the clock keeps ticking.
Marriage? Starting a family?
The biological clock.
For women who want children, the biological clock can feel like Cruella de Vil looming over your shoulder. Fertility can decline by a certain age and the pressure of getting married and having children by your 30’s – 40’s can feel like a race against time.
And then there are the empty nesters.
Those of us with no children at home who are either retired or are planning to retire soon.
For many of us in this midlife age group, we can find ourselves thinking more about who we are outside of our families and who we might be outside of our jobs when we’re ready to retire.
Of course self-introspection can happen at any age or stage in our lives but those of us entering our 40’s, 50’s and beyond can often find ourselves in a time of transition.
Closing chapters in our lives and hopefully opening new doors.
More curious about what was and what can still be.
I call this the Wonder Years.
Some refer to this as a midlife crisis.
I prefer to see it as a reckoning…or an awakening.
An awareness of past disappointments, regrets or choices that could use healing or reframing. Maybe a time to renegotiate and make peace with the expectations of what we thought was supposed to have happened in our lives that didn’t. Gracefully letting go of what was not meant for us.
And maybe it’s about reshaping our roles and identities to fit new chapters in our lives with clearer visions of our own personal desires.
All great stuff!!!
And as we continue to explore what it is we really want and begin to realize that our mortality is real ( yikes ) many of us begin the list…
The Bucket List.
The biological clock for seniors. What some believe is the Holy Grail.
The magical list of all the things we’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have Time for and because we’re at that certain age it has to be done before Time runs out.
Eeek!!! So much pressure.
And this pressure can include how to answer some of the questions people might ask about this infamous Bucket List.
What exotic plans do you have on your Bucket List?
What countries are you planning to visit?
What’s the wildest thing you have planned now that you’re retired?
Uhmmm…How do you answer these questions?
Maybe all I want is a simpler life…maybe I just want to do more nature walks or more visits to the beach or just sit in my backyard with my second cup of coffee and wonder.
Early in my retirement, I admit I used to feel judged and somewhat ashamed that my bucket list was so simple as compared to others…maybe not as Hollywood-ized and exciting as others wanted it to be. I even wondered if there was something called Bucket List Shaming which could be defined as the disappointment you feel from others when your list is simpler than what you think they had hoped it would be.
But I’ve long moved past these feelings of shame and am much more understanding that people can often ask well meaning but awkward questions. Maybe it’s just that we sometimes feel the need to impose our fantasies and expectations on others…opinions on what we think should be done at various milestones in our lives.
But why wait until retirement to start a bucket list?
Do what you love when you can.
Stop watching the clock.
As our lives shift, our lists may shift as well but don’t miss out on what you can be doing now because you’re waiting for circumstances to be lined up perfectly or for a certain age. This can keep you in a holding pattern while the clock ticks on.
As cliche-ish as this sounds make the most out of life NOW regardless of your age. Bring meaning, fulfillment and happiness to the time you do have.
“Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.”
Thanks for reading,
M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood