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Gillian Leithman
The Wellness Coach

Gillian Leithman is a Certified Retirement Coach and has conducted workshops and seminars for some of Canada 's premiere business and organizations.

Gillian Leithman, MSc

What is on your bucket list for 2009?

For many of us the start of a new year is usually synonymous with New Years' resolutions.

Well, what if this year you resolve to make a bucket list? A comprehensive list of all those things you want to do before you well, kick the bucket!

Death sucks. But dying with unfulfilled dreams bites. Especially if we have the health, wealth and freedom to pursue those things that we have always wanted to accomplish.

In the movie, The Bucket List , Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman learn that they have very little time left to live. So, they set off on a journey to see the world, jump from planes, and climb a few mountains. Along the way they form a tight bond, while experiencing the pleasure of adventure and the sheer joy of living.

There is quite an extensive body of research behind this concept called the bucket list - which is also referred to as a life list . According to some of the world's foremost authorities on the subject, compiling a list of all the things we wish to accomplish can actually make us happier . Dr. Michael B. Frisch of Baylor University explains that listing our goals helps us to clarify our priorities.

And prioritizing those things that we want to accomplish in this lifetime is one of the central tenets of planning for retirement.

As you near retirement and focus on this next stage of life, I want you to start thinking about how you want to spend your time.

A successful and happy retirement requires planning.

If you need inspiration you should listen to Randy Pausch's. Pausch was a young professor at Carnegie Mellon where every year a professor is asked to give a lecture on what wisdom they would impart to their students if this really was to be their last lecture. Sadly, it was the last lecture Pausch ever gave. as he was battling pancreatic cancer. His lecture is about living life and the pursuit of childhood dreams. You will be moved by his story.

And here's some advice from the retirement experts:

Start now!

If you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro , then start researching what that entails. How fit do you have to be, how long is the trip, do you need to train?

If you plan on making your woodworking hobby into a business once you retire, look into what you need to do in order to establish a business. What government documents do you need, will you have a website, will you upload pictures of your artifacts to eBay or will you sell them locally?

Or, perhaps you don't want to or cannot afford to retire, but you want to work elsewhere. Well, what skills do you need to land that dream job? Investigate it now. There are plenty of employers here in Canada and the United States that have won awards for their policies of attracting and retaining a 50 plus workforce. Check them out!

And here's the thing- your bucket list does not need to be as exotic as traveling to the far corners of the Earth- your list may include visiting your aunt who you have not seen in years, or spending more time with family and friends, or volunteering at the local YMCA.

When you plan for life after work, you have something exciting to retire to.

This year I challenge you to start thinking about how you want to spend your time in retirement.

Start small. Make a bucket list of 5 things you want to accomplish this year.

And don't wait until retirement to start pursuing such passions.

In my research on retirement, I have found (as countless other academics have found) that we tend to regret the things that we didn't do . Not the things that we did pursue but did not work out as planned or anticipated.

Wise words to live by!

Don't wait- none of us know how much time we have on this planet.

I have been fortunate to have seen the pyramids, climb Mount Everest, travel to the Promised Land and see the Taj Mahal and this year, I have finally placed Tibet on my bucket list- it has been a destination that I have longed to visit for several years now.

What is on your bucket list for 2009?

I wish you a happy, healthy and successful 2009.

To your retirement success!