December 20, 2013

Best Before Date List vs.The Bucket List

Not too long ago a friend told me about an article from blogger Dave Dineen that she thought would catch my attention. In that post from June 2012, Dave wrote about the difference between a bucket list and the concept of a "best before date list." 

We are all familiar with the idea of a bucket list: those things we'd like to accomplish before we "kick the bucket" and die.The 2007 movie made a lot of folks think about their life and their list




Dave has a different take on that concept, one that makes all the sense in the world to me. Instead of a bucket list, he suggests we consider our "best before" date. Think of the date on the jug of milk or carton of eggs. Dave says,

" I’m amazed at how few people seem to recognize — and plan for — the fact that good health doesn’t last forever. Except in rare cases, your life expectancy (how long you’ll live) and your health expectancy (how long your general good health will last) are not the same thing.
Instead, either slowly or suddenly, your health will fade. That sore knee might never fully heal. Your muscles won’t do what they used to. Some parts of your body will wear out. Or you’ll tire more easily.
You may not recognize it, but your body has a best-before date. Maybe your mind does, too. You just don’t know when that date is."

The awareness of the difference between our life expectancy and our health expectancy is  a powerful concept. For almost all of us, he is exactly right. Our bodies will give out well before our time on earth. The years between those two events will not be available for the physical things we have always told ourselves we want to do.

Of course, there are plenty of activities that may be possible between those two  dates. Using our minds, deepening relationships, or helping others are things we can do after our bodies say "No" to the 10k marathon.

But, Dave is simply pointing out the obvious: why wait until we are at death's door for our bucket list to happen? Start now, while we are still before our "best before" date.

Well said, Dave.

The full article is available here: http://brighterlife.ca/2012/06/14/no-bucket-list-for-me/

20 comments:

  1. The concept of understanding we'll never have more energy or health than we do right now, is why we elected to retire and focus on pursuing our dreams we'll before traditional retirement age. For those that may not have that option, there are still the weekends in which to do so.

    It also applies to taking care of ourselves now, not at the proverbial 'later.' Later may not get here.

    Oh, and it's either a 10K or a marathon, but not both combined. :-)

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    1. I immediately thought of you two when I was writing this post. The picture on the elephant confirms it.

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  2. Ain't that the truth. I am coming to realize that fact now. I have a serious case of osteoporosis and all my bones are going to hell. I try not to let that fact get me down but I also realize that some of the things I wanted to do "in the future" just won't happen. Yes, I will continue to have a satisfying retirement doing things that I can do but my wish list is fading away. Kind of sad but that is the reality of life. None of us die healthy....

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    1. I hadn't planned it this way, but the "Gap Years" post and this one kind of fit together. They both have a singular message: if not now, when?

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    2. Absolutely, we cannot take our ability to do things for granted. I love hiking and have been planning on doing lots and lots of it now that I've retired. But my left knee has decided to go arthritic on me and protests loudly whenever I push it. So now it's a hike once a week -- and pay for it with a few days of swollen and painful knee afterwards.

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  3. Carpe diem, of course. In addition, I do feel that some kind of plan-fulness in life is an important part of successful living. Not just work goals, but family, spiritual, and recreational goals. For way too many people, planful living means no more than buying a lottery ticket (or a couple) and then planning what to do with all the money "when they win" (Egads!). I frequent have said that a great retirement calls for meaningful involvements and activities way, way before actual retirement. Cultivation and pursuit of one's bliss(es) starts as early as one chooses, retirement allows for greater time and development of one's joys.

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    1. Your last point is so important. The luckiest ones among us have a passion and a sense of self well before retirement. This stage of life gives us the amazing opportunity to spend more time with those gifts and interests. Can you say banjo?

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  4. your depressing me, Bob..! no, you are right...we're getting back to that "wear out or rust out" thing. Now, about that left knee I tore up in the Navy back in 1979....

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    1. My knees protest most everything any more, with my right ankle not far behind. I try to walk 3 miles a day just to let them know who is still in charge...me!

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  5. So true. The go-go, slow go & no go years come to mind. Many years ago I learned that the future is precarious. So if there's something I want to do, now is the time to get it done. I like the term "planfulness". I do believe that some people die in "good health". There's a difference between dying of poor health and dying because we're just old.

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    1. I read a term recently in a book: "inner-kill." It is the name for the time when you've stopped growing, when you have given up on yourself, or when you find yourself always taking the easy, safe way. That can apply to both our mental and physical selves.

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  6. BTW, Merry Christmas to you and your readers.

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  7. This reminds me of all of our travels with my husbands bad knees. Although we are medically treating them, there has only been limited success. Probably replacement knees in the future. A couple of years back we were in London in the summer, enjoying three days of that wonderful city before embarking on a cruise. Husband was limping and walking slowly around the wonderful sites and I kept asking if he wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. His reply was always the same. "Are you kidding me? I had to pay high season rates to get here in the summer. No way I'm missing one minute of it."

    Crazy about this guy.

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    1. Ann, I have been the same way for years, due to an injury. I can walk but I need to go slowly (to be sure I am walking heel to toe), have a limit and avoid stairs when possible. It used to be that my husband and son would slow down every so often and look back at me. finally we came to an understanding-Im a big girl and know where I am going and they can wait for me when we get to our destinatio. I also refused to miss a minute, just had to go at my own pace.

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  8. I believe it now. I'm healthy and fairly fit, but I can't drive at night any more. That has an impact on winter activities when the days are short. Better get at it!

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    1. I trust you got your fill of sunshine and Vitamin D during your recent trip to Hawaii. Tucson should complete the process!

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  9. I'm sharing this post, Bob. My thanks to you and Dave.
    edz

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  10. I have been busy with the last thing on Dave's list for the last year. As soon as my son is back from his deployment, other things will start to be planned. Three will take some bigger effort: walk Hadrian's wall, tour Turkey and move. There is certainly no time like the present! Thanks for reminding me.
    Merry Christmas Bob!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Janette. Hadrian's Wall, tour Turkey.....very impressive.

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