5 Goal-Getting Moves To Make Your Retirement Bucket List A Reality

5 minute read

Grab your bucket list, because we’re talking big retirement goals. The start of a New Year is a prime time to revisit your pre-existing goals, and make new ones, particularly for the next phase of your life. Julie Morgenstern, the New York Times bestselling author of six books, routinely coaches her clients on how to achieve those goals successfully. She sat down with Jean Chatzky on a recent episode of Your Money Map to talk about setting goals for your next chapter in life, how to figure out what you want on your bucket list, and how to make it all come to life. Here are 5 goal-getting moves you should start making right now.

Retirement Bucket List Move #1: Approach it From the “Inside Out”

Morgenstern has built her practice – and written the best-sellers, “Organizing from the Inside Out” and “Time Management from the Inside Out” – around this premise. She dispels the notion that there are certain tips and tricks that will magically erase your clutter or unblock your calendar. Instead, she says you have to understand yourself and the psychological factors that are standing between you and success. Why can’t you let go of the things that you feel you should have and should do, in order to clear the way for what you really want? (For the record, that means not just knowing what it is you want – but also giving yourself permission to want it.) “With my clients, I can see when they come upon what they want; they are very full of life and light. You light up when you imagine the path you want,” she says. “Then they start to think, ‘I should do this,’ and they tighten up and the stress comes back.”

Retirement Bucket List Move #2: Understand How Life Has Shifted

Before the pandemic, many of us approached life as a list of things that needed to be checked off as quickly and efficiently as possible. But when the world came to a halt, that became impossible, Morgenstern says. The surprising – and wonderful – result was that it instilled a great deal of patience in people. “Nothing moved fast enough for quite some time,” she said. “The pandemic was an exercise in patience, and coming out of it, people are approaching their goals in a much more realistic, focused, patient way.” They’re not just more willing to slow down and wait for the people around them, they’re also giving that sort of grace to themselves. Specifically, she sees evidence of this in New Year’s resolutions. In years past, when people hadn’t begun exercising or dieting or budgeting (or whatever they’d resolved to tackle) by around the second week of January, they’d just give up. But now, they’re giving themselves more time to get started. This, she says, is a good thing.

WATCH Your Money Map: making your retirement bucket list a reality

Julie Morgenstern joined Jean Chatzky for an episode of Your Money Map to discuss goals and the best methods to reaching your goals on January 25, 2023.

Retirement Bucket List Move #3: Narrow Your List

Research has shown that when it comes to willpower, individuals only have a certain amount. This is why you shouldn’t diet when you’re trying to trim your budget and vice versa; you’re more likely to be successful when you’re approaching a single goal at a time. Anecdotally, Morgenstern is seeing that happen. “People are picking one, two or maybe three things they want to tackle – not six.” The reality is, unless you really are one of the verse jumpers from the Academy Award-nominated, “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” (mind-bending, if you haven’t seen it), you’re better off taking things one at a time.

Retirement Bucket List Move #4: Set Some Priorities

Just as it helps to have fewer items on your bucket list, it’s also important to put them in some sort of order. This is key to keeping your mental state in check and reducing financial stress. With inflation higher than we’ve seen in decades, even wealthy people are surprised by how much things cost, Morgenstern notes. “[The current economy] actually makes it easier for people to talk about money and to talk about conserving money.” Thankfully, it also makes it easier for them to talk about how to make their money go the distance. In other words, how to provide enough protected lifetime income so that you can enjoy your life today, 10 years from now, and decades into the future. Figuring out what’s most important on your retirement bucket list allows you to work with your financial advisor to make those things happen – and cut the non-essentials loose.

Retirement Bucket List Move #5: Get Some Help

The world of coaching has exploded over the past decade. Now there aren’t just life coaches and money coaches, there’s also a burgeoning industry of retirement coaches, people who work with pre- and new retirees to help them figure out what this next phase of life will look like. It’s a route to consider taking if you find yourself at a loss for what your retirement life may entail. In one notable instance, Morgenstern notes, she worked with a senior executive who was retiring from a job in the pharmaceutical industry. The woman was trying to figure out how she was going to fill her days, and, originally, she thought she would look for a position on a corporate board. Why? “Because she was just trying to fill her time with something that looked like work.”  Thankfully, with Morgenstern’s help, she embarked on a thought process that opened her mind to other potential ways to fill her day. With a mind shift, she was able to happily embrace allotting time to staying healthy, volunteering, and pursuing new hobbies. Today, her coach notes: “She is living a joyous life.”


To make sure you have enough protected income to achieve your goals and check-off your bucket list, go to Check Off the Basics. And click here for more great Alliance resources, free tools and guides to plan for the life you want in retirement.

Stay informed with the latest updates on protected income planning.