Writing Your Post-Retirement Checklist

Sure, you’ve always wanted to learn French or take your grandchildren to see the house you were born in. But time has always gotten in the way. So often, we have so many things on our “have to” list that we completely disregard our “want to” list.

Retirement is the perfect stage in life to check off all of those “want to’s!” And writing down a checklist of all of the things you want to do after retirement is the perfect place to start.


Include big things and small things.

Some of the things on your list should be things you’ve only dreamed about up to this point in your life. A trip to Ireland. Writing a book. Setting a personal athletic record. But some of the items on your list should be small, too. Things that you can accomplish in a day or an afternoon. These things could include watching an entire TV series that you love, visiting a local tourist attraction that you haven’t ever been to, or writing a letter to an old friend. Big or small, what you put on your list is important.


Share your list with others.

One of the big perks of writing a list out rather than keeping an ongoing one in your head is that other people can keep you accountable. If you tell someone about your goals, you are more likely to keep the momentum to achieve them. And if your friends and family know what you want to accomplish, they can help cheer you on and give you positive reinforcement when you take a step in the right direction.

Sharing your list is also a nice way for you to share more about yourself with children and grandchildren. Perhaps you want to try amateur photography but never told your children that you loved snapping photos as a teenager. They will learn more about you while you are learning all of the wonderful things that you can achieve when you put your mind to it.


Make time for your list.

We know that this won’t be the first list that you’re making. And we also know that there is a good chance that you didn’t complete everything on lists from years ago. Nothing will ever get done if you don’t make the time to do it. Retirement opens up a huge chunk of your schedule that was filled with going to work from (for most) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. You now have the time to focus on achieving goals and making memories that you didn’t have time for when life was busier.

One trap to not fall into is having so much time that you always think you can “do it later.” To avoid this, add weekly goals that will get you closer to checking something off. For instance, if your goal is to learn French, you could look up local conversation clubs one week, and then try one out the next week. Setting these small goals will help keep you productive… even if your productivity is all in the name of fun!


Focus on the good you’re doing.

Making lists is good for you. And we have this article from Psychology Today to back us up. List-making helps you work through problems, prioritize what is important in your life, reduces stress, and help you outline needed steps in order to get something accomplished. In retirement, some people feel a loss of control that comes with a loss of self, which appears after they no longer identify themselves by their career. List making can help you get some of that feeling of control back, so that you can start to enjoy your retirement rather than wondering what to do with all of your free time.