Today is my half birthday! Birthdays and I have a love-hate relationship. When I was younger, my birthday was one of my favorite days of the year. It was a holiday I got to enjoy all for myself. Birthdays were always fun as a kid. I can’t remember a single year that I didn’t celebrate growing another year older with my closest friends and family.
But the more birthdays I had, the less I enjoyed them. Thinking of things to ask for got harder. My family, bless their hearts, would never accept “I don’t need anything,” as an answer for a birthday gift. And each year I was faced with the realization that getting older is inevitable. If you’ve seen me, you know I don’t look anything close to 30, or even 28-and-a-half for that matter. I’m still regularly ID-ed when I order a drink, or even sometimes when I buy tickets for a rated-R movie. People have been telling me all my life that not looking my age is a blessing and that I will be grateful about it when I’m older. But the older I get, the more I wish I was the age I actually look.
Related reading: 27 Life Lessons Learned on my Husband’s 27th Birthday
In recent years, I’ve been having an on-and-off quarter life crisis. Days go by where I feel completely content with where I’m at in life. Other days, like the last week or so, I feel stir-crazy. I’ve never been one to sit still for long. I joke that if I could be a student forever, I would because I love to learn. I love to travel and grow and challenge myself to be better. And when I don’t see a lot of growth occurring, I feel stagnant. In my head, that translates into regression. There is no middle ground for me. If I’m not moving forward, I’m going backwards.
And thus, as you can imagine, perfectionism is a daily battle for me. I have wrestled with whether or not I wanted to write up a 30 by 30 bucket list or not because on some level, having a list of 30 things I want to achieve in 18 months seems like it could perpetuate the cycle. At the same time, setting goals for myself is how I know I’m growing.
Related Reading: Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison
I tried to keep these things in mind as I created my 30 by 30 bucket list. For the next 18 months of my life, I want to accomplish many things, but I also want to be realistic about my capabilities. Goals are meant to be achieved, so I’m choosing to not set myself up for failure. I’m setting realistic, measurable goals on my bucket list so that I feel good about checking them off, and so that I know for sure I accomplished what I set out to do.
For my 30 by 30 bucket list, I chose to think about my values, namely growth, connection, and authenticity. I want the next 18 months of my life to be about challenging myself to live by the values that are most important to me. Without further ado, here is my 30 by 30 bucket list.
30 by 30 Bucket List: 18 Months of Growth, Connection and Authenticity
1. Finish a journal cover to cover
I’ve been a stationery nerd for as long as I can remember. But I’ve never finished a journal cover to cover! I get angry and afraid of my feelings and abandon notebooks. Between now and my 30th birthday, I plan to finish a journal cover to cover.
2. Conquer a Fear
I’m so afraid. All the time. If I’m not anxious about one thing, I’m anxious about another. Lately, my biggest fear has been about health concerns and dying. I plan on doing one thing that will help me conquer my fear of death by looking it in the face.
3. Go on a hike alone
It seems backwards being an introvert, but I really don’t like to do things alone. But hiking is one place where I feel very connected with myself. I want to take a hike alone and do some self-reflection.
4. Practice self-love
I have a few ideas on how I plan to achieve this goal, but I didn’t want to narrow it down just yet. Self-esteem has always been a struggle for me. I want to do one nice thing for myself to practice some self-love in the next 18 months.
5. Pass up an opportunity to be angry
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten angrier. If I’m being honest, I will find any excuse to be angry, whether it be something worthy of anger or not. I plan to set aside my feelings of anger and practice love and understanding instead.
6. Run a Half Marathon
Earlier this year, I signed up for a half marathon right around my birthday. But that meant training in the winter and I absolutely hate the cold, let alone running in it. Between now and the time that I turn 30, I want to finally run a half marathon.
7. Visit Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale is the only national park in Michigan. It’s also home to two wolves, the last two remaining from their pack. The National Parks Service was talking last year about introducing 20-30 new wolves into the park. I’ve always felt connected to wolves. This is a trip I’ve wanted to take for several years, but the island is remote. I’ve made many excuses as to why we can’t go, when in reality I’m stopping myself from experiencing something I know I’ll grow from. I plan to finally visit the island.
8. Save $1000
Since my husband and I got engaged, we have had one large expense after the next. Our wedding, of course, was pricey. But then my husband was in a car accident and we had to buy a new car for him. We bought a house. We bought a dog. We have car problems and have to take money from our savings. In the last two years, we haven’t been able to save as much as I wanted to. I want to show myself that we can manage our money effectively by saving $1000.
9. Publish something
Before I entered the psychology field, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to publish poetry, actually. I’ve written many poems and have had ideas about novels, but never took on the projects. By the time I turn 30, I want to be able to call myself a published author.
10. Take on a home project and finish it
This is another goal where I am trying to prove to myself that I can muster the motivation even when I don’t feel like it. We’ve been living in our house for over a year and have not taken on a big project yet. I want to finally push myself to take on a project even when it seems daunting.
11. Take a class alone
As I said before, I struggle to do things alone. In the next 18 months, I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and take a class alone. The goal would be to connect with people I don’t know.
I love volunteering but I never do it anymore. I want to be able to connect with people about something we are all passionate about while serving my community.
13. Pay it forward
I always love to read articles about people who started paying for the person in line behind them and how that one gesture led to a full day of people paying for each other. I love the idea of anonymously being able to connect with someone and make them feel appreciated. In the next 18 months, I plan to pay it forward.
14. Donate blood
Donating blood has been on my to-do list since I was old enough to do so. For whatever reason, every time I tried to donate blood, I was turned away. Either I visited a foreign country too recently, I was too anemic, I was underweight, or I wasn’t able to produce enough blood. By the time I’m 30, I plan to finally help someone by donating blood.
15. Join a book club
I love reading and I have been in several book clubs throughout the years. But I’ve never made it a priority. I plan to join a book club and connect with people over our love for reading.
16. Make a new friend
Making friends is hard. I love having friends, but the idea of putting myself out there and meeting new people is challenging for me. I want to make and keep a new friend within the next 18 months.
17. Connect with an old friend
With that being said, I also want to connect with an old friend. I have so many great people in my life that I never see or talk to anymore. I’d like to rekindle an old friendship.
18. Visit a far away friend
Not only have I lived in three different states, I have also had numerous friends move away. I have friends all over the country that don’t get to see often. I plan to visit at least one friend who lives over three hours away.
19. Meet my neighbors
When I was growing up, I was close to all my neighbors. When we bought our house, I felt frustrated that our neighbors did not welcome us into our new home. (Here’s a perfect example how I will choose to be angry when anger is unnecessary.) I realized that I have just as much of a responsibility to meet them as they have to meet me. I plan to meet my neighbors in the next 18 months.
20. Learn something new about my husband
David and I have been together for 8.5 years this month. Sometimes it feels like we know everything there is to know about one another. But I know that is definitely not the case! I’d love to learn something new about him and connect over it.
21. Research an opinion that differs from mine
The world has become so polarized. I know I’m also not immune to holding on so tightly to my own beliefs that I forget that other belief systems can be just as valid as my own. I want to lay aside my pride and research an opinion that is different than my own.
22. Make myself a promise and keep it
Integrity is about being honest and having a strong set of morals to fall back on. So when I break promises to myself, I learn to doubt my own abilities and even my character. I plan to keep a promise to myself in the next 18 months.
23. Find my superpower
My friend Sheila over at In Search of Sheila recently did a blogging workshop in which she talked about finding your superpower. It occurred to me that I don’t know what my superpower actually is. And trying to force myself into a superpower that I don’t actually have is about as inauthentic as it gets. I want to find out what my greatest strength is.
24. Accept responsibility for a mistake
This is something I’ve been challenging myself on for a while now. Admitting that I am wrong is really hard for me. It’s connected to my perfectionism and deep-seated sense of shame when I make a mistake. To be more authentic in the next year and a half, I will admit that I was wrong with my head held high.
25. Cry in front of someone other than my husband
You may not believe this, but it can be hard for me to be vulnerable, especially in person. In blogland, I feel a sense of safety knowing that I’m hidden behind a screen. Few people see me at my most vulnerable. I plan to challenge myself to be vulnerable and cry in front of someone, rather than stuffing those feelings inside.
26. Stand up for an unpopular opinion
There is so much injustice in this world, and more than ever, it’s hard to stand up for what’s right. My fear of being attacked sadly prevents me for standing up for what’s right. I want to challenge myself to stand up for my beliefs even when it’s unpopular.
27. Say no
There’s a reason there wasn’t a blog post on Monday even though I wanted to post on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am challenging myself to say “no” more when I need to. I love to help people and rarely turn down an opportunity to do so. But then there are times where I feel completely overwhelmed with the amount of responsibilities that I have and I can only blame myself. I want to set some limits and say no.
28. Embrace an imperfection
Sometimes it’s easier to fake it ’til ya make it. But that’s not very authentic. I have imperfections that I either try to hide or pretend don’t bother me because I worry what people may think if they knew that I was self-conscious. Not only do I want to be more authentic about my imperfections, I want to embrace them too. Imperfections are what make people unique.
29. Express my true feelings when I’m feeling uncomfortable
Since it’s honesty hour here at The Light Owl, I will admit that it’s hard for me to tell someone when I’m feeling uncomfortable. Whether it’s something as simple as kicking someone out of my house when they’ve overstayed their welcome to admitting that my feelings were hurt, I want to be more open about how I feel.
30. Give myself grace
Last but certainly not least, I want to practice grace and forgiveness toward myself for not being able to do it all. Trying to force myself into this perfect mold that I’ve created is certainly not working. When I can’t do it all, I plan to give myself a break. It’s real. It’s authentic. And it’s going to be okay.
What’s on your 30 by 30 bucket list? Is there anything from my list that you’re planning to add to yours? Let me know in the comments!
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