Imagine the Possibilities

This blog talks about creating a Life Possibilities List that will become your source of inspiration – to help bring clarity to what you want in your life (Life Plan), to create a daily/weekly/monthly plan, and/or to look to when you need a little push out of boredom.  In the Retirement Transition Process of Reflect, Imagine, Assess, Activate and Refine, this is Imagine!
This Possibilities List is more than just a honey-do task list of cleaning out the basement and going to those places you always wanted to visit, although those things are on it as well.  Years ago while exploring creating a bucket list, I realized a good list is more than the “100 things to do before I die”.  While those things are great to have on the list, this possibilities list should also include elements of who you want to be and skills/talents you want to develop.
There are many “life list” approaches (books/websites) that are quite helpful.  I’m sharing exercises I felt worked best for me – a range of brain stimulating tasks and various sources of inspiration. As you go through these, don’t make excuses to not put something on the list – no buts, or don’t know how’s.  I do know that you will unconsciously filter things that just really have no interest for you. (I just do not want to jump out of a plane, ever. It is not on my list.)  My goal for my first list was 150 items.   My current list has more as I’ve been inspired by others lists.
After you have your list, you can do a few things with it. In my Retirement Transition process, I use it to choose activities that match my Life Vision statement (interests, strengths, values and life domains I want to focus on).  You can use it to look for patterns to create a “big plan” idea that might link multiple possibilities.  Here’s a real example from my Possibilities List: researching and planning trips + African Safari + wildlife spotting + luxury vacation + cross the equator + visit 25 new countries + time with hubby = plan an African Safari trip with Tauck adventures for our 25th anniversary.  You can also use it to create a vision board (visual collage of the life you want to have this year). Or define some grand goals; “50 states by the time I am 50” was a grand goal earlier in my life (completed!).

Best Approaches:
Mind Mapping JOY – What activities bring you joy today? What makes you lose track of time when you are engaged in it? What do you spend time doing when you can do anything? What activities brought you joy in the past? What old hobbies do you want to re-ignite?

Resolving Concerns. What activities might help in some of your personal concern areas?
– Activities that will get me physically fit – Do you want to get your body in shape? Change your eating habits? What are some physical pursuits you’ve always thought about trying? Learn to play a sport?
– Activities that will create connection – Do you want to reconnect with friends you might have not had time for? Spend more time with family? Create new friendships?
– Activities that will stimulate my brain/personal development — What have you dreamed about trying/studying? What have people suggested you try?
— Need to work?  Whether for emotional or financial reasons, you might have identified a need to produce an income stream from part-time work. Here’s some ideas for turning interest or expertise into income:
–  Be the Expert (capitalize on your work experience and contacts) – consultant, coach, mentor, adjunct professor, on-line instructor, recruiter, speaker, corporate trainer, professional organization administrator, writer (publish books), create & sell digital downloads/training.

– Small Business Creation for day-to-day needs/services – dog walker, driver, organizer, personal shopper, tax prep, personal concierge, personal chef, business support services, home stager, proof reader, website developer, home companion

– Part-time jobs where time = money – freelance writing, photographer, seasonal work (summer camps, parks, stores), retail in passion area (fashion, home improvement, gardening, cooking, home decor), fitness instructor (yoga, zumba)

– Buy into Franchise/License a Program – independent sales consultant, life coach

–  New Career (require new skills or certification) – performer (musician, actor, comedian), mediator, teacher, health care worker/practitioner, realtor, minister, financial advisor, lawyer

Additional fun brainstorm activities: 

  • Go back and look at older journals, older life/bucket lists , older to-do lists (if you have them). What did you like to do, want to do? Or ask family and /or old friends – What did I always want to do?
  • Go to the bookstore and select 5 books/magazines on things you’ve never done (check the books for Dummies section). What are they? You might even buy them and explore! If nothing else, what sections in the bookstore did you drift to?
  • Who’s lifestyles do you/ have you admired? What about them would you like to replicate in yours? I love A’s food adventurism, K’s devotion to exercise, M’s search for wearable yet trendy fashion, C’s active stay-cation mindset summers.
  • If you were to create a TV documentary or TV special or blog, what would it be about?
  • List your 5-10 Imaginary Lives. If you could pick 5-10 other lives to live, what would they be? The list is endless – do not be sensible – pick at least 5 that would be fun & exciting. To get you started, here’s some I have seen on other’s lists: screenwriter, tour guide, realtor, sailor, pilot, teacher, mountain climber, kite flyer, lawyer, car racer, B&B owner, bird watcher, chess champion, paid musician, martial arts black belt(er), park ranger, massage therapist, interior designer, health coach, nutritionist, cowboy, golf coach, actor, dancer, architecture buff, knitter, published writer, preacher, photographer, board member, start-up advisor, house restorer, antique dealer, standup comedian, mediator, landscaper, artist, life coach, financial advisor, travel writer, chef, magician, yoga teacher, marathoner, dog trainer, fitness instructor.
  • What are the 25 destinations you have always wanted to visit (locally, domestically, internationally), the 25 things you always wanted to learn to do, the 25 things you want to experience (foods to eat, people to meet, events to attend, books to read)
  • What is your “metro list” – the total stay-cation/ learn your city list – museums, boutiques, shows, festival, parks, restaurants, neighborhoods, outdoor art, etc.
  • Fill in the blanks: Someday I would love to try _________. If money were no object, I would try __________. If I knew I could be successful/competent at it, I would ____________.
  • Look at other people’s lists! Steal & reapply. What does it spark for you? Does something make you say “wow, isn’t that cool?”

Some of the ideas that have appeared on Possibilities Lists I have seen (and some from mine!):

create my family tree have my palm read or tarot mentor a start-up
join a book club learn to fly a plane take a photography class
create a dinner club volunteer at the bird sanctuary watch the top 100 classic movies
volunteer as an usher improve social media literacy eat more healthy
learn to play piano bicycle regualry write a blog
create an LLC and network for projects try all the top restaurants in town take cooking classes
learn to play chess hot air balloon ride spend time gardening
design a house get regular massage create support network of friends
regularly go to farmers markets go to art galleries Machu Picchu
go to theater regularly plan big trip each year, including researching cross country in an RV
RoadScholar on architecture or  geology create a place where “everybody knows my name” See the northern lights
cross the equator Italy African Safari – wildlife spotting
Ireland Walking Vacation regular nature walks/hikes crossword puzzle daily
house declutter study mythology and mysticism have outfit designed/hand made
plan and execute a stay-cation summer train my dog to be therapy dog work in community garden
Visit all 57 National parks take astronomy course become an antique dealer
Become an AARP Tax volunteer meditation retreat create and execute 100 books to read list
Explore Meet Ups Take painting lessons Jump out of a plane

So what are the 150 Possibilities on your list?

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5 thoughts on “Imagine the Possibilities

  1. Thanks Pat. I would say do all you can now! My husbands diagnosis of parkinsons came four years after he retired and only four months after I retired! One never knows. Take up knitting. A scarf is a good way to start. Visit a knit shop, most will teach you and have groups to knit with others. I love knitting even if I only have time to do one row. Have two sweaters and a pair of boot cuffs in process now!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As always, Pat, you are very generous in sharing what you’ve learned. Thank you! You have given me a great deal of insights and information to consider. I’m not as far along as you are; I’m grateful you’re leading the way. Bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah – I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughtful comments on my blog and appreciate that I have caught your interest. Likewise, I find your blog very thought provoking. As you know I am a newbie at this but loved reading all of the things that you had on your list of possibilities. My list doesn’t come close to matching yours but I am still uber excited about all the cool things I want to do and try to do! We’re heading to a colder climate in the near future so I want inside and outside things; active and not so active things – just a great variety so that I don’t fall into a rut! Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Possibilities change as we age and health presents its challenges. My husband has Parkinsons and I am his caregiver. We often speak that we are glad we traveled when we did. Memorable trips include San Francisco, London UK, Cornwall, Ireland, cruise to Grand Cayman.

    Now travel is more limited due to walking and balance issues, so we invent an active at-home life of quilting, sewing, knitting, and chip carving.

    We are free to be very active in our church. They are extended family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, thanks for your insight. I do know that my list is still heavy on the active elements, as I hope both my husband and I have quite a few years of high activity left in us. I know however how hopeful that can be – my dad had a massive stroke when he was in his mid 60’s which severely limited him. This was one of the big reasons I took an early retirement – to be able to live while my body was still able.

      I am glad you have the extended family of your church around you. You’re the second person in a couple of days that mentioned quilting and knitting to me…. I will definitely add both to MY possibilities list. I have always loved quilts and have a couple from my husband’s grandmother. It might be a fun thing to try out this coming winter when below zero weather means everyone is limited in walking!

      Liked by 1 person

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