My birthday was this past weekend (yay!). Having only just turned 29, it seems somewhat appropriate to reflect a bit on my admittedly short twenty-something life.
Also considering that this was the third birthday I’ve celebrated in my adopted home of Berlin, I figure it deserves a bit more reflection than usual. THREE YEARS HOLY WHAT?! How did that happen?!
Anyways, thinking about my life and my plans and the fact that in less than 12 months from today I’m turning that strangely scary “30,” I figured it was about time I sat down, put pen to the paper and came up with some formidable goals for the next year.
I’m not usually one to make bucket lists, but I do love a good to-do list. So, in that respect, I’ve treated this list of things to do less so as a bucket list and more as a personal guide for me, my life. It’s not all travel stuff (hey! one can’t travel every day, yeah?) but rather the things I’d like to start doing to improve my quality of life (which is already pretty freaking good if I must say so myself).
As in my previous 25 Things To Do Before Turning 25 post, there are really a few categories to this. It’s as much a list of things to do as it is a set of goals to make life better for myself, those around me and just maybe, the world at large.
Here’s what I’ve got. Feel free to chime in: let me know if you think I’m crazy, if you want to do any of the things with me or if you’ve already done them and have some tips. I’m determined to make my 30th year pretty awesome and making these goals public is a good first step to get me on the right path.
In no particular order…
30 Things To Accomplish Before 30
1. Take care of my body
This isn’t just “go to the gym” (ha, like I even would?!) but more along the lines of: start meditating again, try out yoga & see if it’s for me, eat healthier, walk more often and so on and so on. I won’t lie: while I’m not afraid or anxious about growing older, I do want to stay fit and healthy and I’m realizing I can’t rely on my super awesome metabolism forever.
2. Visit Amsterdam
Okay, this one’s kind of silly. Can you believe I’ve lived in Europe for nearly three years and I’ve NEVER (not once!) visited Amsterdam? It’s almost unbelievable considering how hip of a city it’s supposed to be — not to mention the gazillions of tourists who visit every year. This must be rectified and quick! There are only so many stupid things one can do as a tourist before they get too old for it. Amsterdam, I’m coming after you. Be ready.
3. Aprender Español (Learn Spanish)
Yes, I live in Germany (and have no plans to leave), but while my attempts to learn German have been working somewhat successfully, I’ve realized I also need to know some Spanish. My plan is start studying the language more rigorously and I’ve already got some plans in the work to help me achieve this goal. Stay tuned!
4. Take a creative ______ class
I love learning and while I may no longer officially be a student, I think there’s plenty to still be gained in schools. Whether it’s a community school or an online university, there are several skills I want to hone in on this year. I’d love to learn more about taking photos or perhaps a writing course to help achieve more of my professional goals. Maybe even a refresher course on design?
5. Publish an ebook
This blog 404 is just over four years old. In that time I’ve learned a lot about the travel & tourism industry, about blogging & social media and about life in general. Over the past year I’ve started writing professionally for other travel publications online and off, but now I’d like to do something more comprehensive. This is already in the works, actually — but I’m not ready to announce anything just yet!
6. Go on a road trip in Europe
Who doesn’t love a good road trip?! Back in America, despite not owning a car, I managed to squeeze in plenty of road trips. The rush and excitement I feel sitting behind the wheel on an empty road at night (driving fast but not too fast, of course) is something I want to experience here in Europe. Road trip through Germany anyone?
7. Make cheesecake for the first time
Throughout my 20s I’ve finally embraced the kitchen. I love cooking actually. I find it relaxing and enjoyable. It’s one of those things that’s both a science and an art if you manage to pull it all together. And so this year I’d like to learn how to make a cheesecake. I actually have no idea how easy or difficult this might be. But a nice slice of NY style cheesecake sounds pretty good to me right about now.
8. Host a dinner party
This doesn’t have to go along with the cheesecake entry above, but generally speaking, I like hosting the occasional party. With my friends over the years, we’ve had plenty of dinner get-togethers but I’ve never truly hosted my own dinner party.
9. Send a postcard from every trip I take
Back when I was traveling around the world in 2010, I reliably sent off a postcard to my Grandma from every country. Once I settled in Berlin, that tradition slowed down to a full stop and now I’m lucky if I even manage to walk into a souvenir shop to buy a postcard!
As a surprisingly frequent receiver of postcards, I know the joy that it brings and I’m going to start this up again. Friends — make sure I’ve got your address!
10. Plant a tree
I’m fairly certain I’ve planted a few trees in my life, but the last one must’ve been when I was 12. I shouldn’t go through my 20s without ever planting a tree. It just seems like something I could accomplish every decade and this one is ending fast! Plus, you know: the environment and all that.
11. Have a morning routine
This is something an adult would do, right?
12. Turn off the Internet
Metaphorically speaking, of course. I’m long overdue for a digital detox. Maybe it’d just be turning off Facebook for a few days, or maybe it could be an entire trip where I don’t bring my computer, where I don’t use Twitter, where the Internet (for me) is off. The thought of this isn’t scary for me, but it does seem rather challenging.
13. Learn the art of cocktail-making
I once owned a cocktail shaker and a set of martini glasses. That was a fun year.
14. Jump more often (and get better at it!)
In college one year, during my summer off, I decided it would be a good goal to hula hoop regularly. My friends made fun of me for it, but on my first day of summer I went to Wal-Mart and bought a hula hoop. Best investment ever! And though I haven’t picked one up in a while, something I can do no matter where I am in the world is jump. Full disclosure here: I’m a terrible jumper!
15. Take a spontaneous trip
While I’m a master at booking last-minute tickets, it’s usually for a trip that I’ve meticulously planned. I can just be sometimes slow (ie, lazy) on the “purchase a plane ticket” part of travel planning. Backpacking around the world, I was a full-fledged expert at taking spontaneous trips.
I started traveling with an itinerary and then quickly threw it out the window, buying plane tickets and arranging visas weeks or sometimes days before I’d show up on a brand new continent. I’ve lost a lot of that since settling in Berlin so I’d love to recapture it for a trip or two. Book a last-minute plane ticket, show up in a new city and just go from there. It’s refreshing to feel lost every once in a while.
16. See more live music & concerts
Music was once a big part of my life. I was practically addicted to the Ticketmaster website, buying concert tickets every week. I’ve lost touch with quite a few of my favorite bands, but I’m starting to get back into it again…
17. Attend more unusual & creative performances
Earlier this month, in London, I learned about quite a few independent shows & performances. There was something called Naked Boys Reading which just sounded too good to be true. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to attend, but I know there must be equally quirky events happening in other cities around the world. Things like spoken word performances, Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School and Berlin’s own “Berlin Under 30” are just the kind of events I should be attending more often for inspiration, for fun and just because—well, why not?!
18. Read _____
I’ve intentionally left this blank. There was one semester in college where I made a commitment to myself to read Moby Dick. It’s an epic story and one loooong book, one recommended to me by my high school English teacher. It had sat on my list of books to read for years before I finally decided to purchase a copy and see what happened.
I spent nearly two weeks devouring the story, reading large chunks at night until I finished. And you know what? It was fantastic. I haven’t decided which epic book I want to read this year, but I’m certainly open to suggestions.
19. Decorate my bedroom
Despite telling myself repeatedly that I’ve made Berlin my home, I’ve still managed to keep a safe distance from any sort of serious commitment. It’s time I actually put something up on the walls and made this place my home. I love the feeling of coming home to something (or someone), so this is an important step in solidifying my relationships here in Berlin.
20. Try a fast / meditate
Part of being healthier, perhaps, but I’ve also been fascinated with the idea of a fast for a few years now. I’m not in it as a dieting method but rather a spiritual, meditative experience. Alternatively, there’s always something like a silent yoga retreat. But shutting up just sounds really difficult.
21. Write more often in a journal
Again, this was something I once did quite regularly when backpacking around the world. I’ve got a stack of Moleskine journals filled with way-too-personal stories and secret tales from my travels. It was always a cathartic experience—writing down my thoughts (crazy or not) in a journal.
I’m sure it helped keep me sane when my life was in a bit of a shambles. It’s a different skill than writing on a computer and one I could certainly use more practice in.
22. Explore my own city
It can be totally liberating to rediscover where you live. Berlin is big and there’s still a lot more to see here.
23. Practice photography skills
I already touched on this above, but photography has become a secret little passion of mine. Don’t tell my father, though. He always tried to get me interested in photography as a kid and I would have none of it. Nowadays it’s something I really enjoy despite the fact that I have so much to learn.
24. Take weekends off
This might seem strange coming from a freelancer like myself, but something I’ve learned this past year is the importance of free time. When I had a corporate job, weekends and week nights were often completely free.
I didn’t have much to worry about and could use my time outside of work doing whatever I pleased. Now as a freelancer, there’s this constant stress and pressure to keep working, to get shit done. This snarky article on Gothamist just hits the point home for me: I need to build weekends and free time back into my routine.
25. Use my hands more often
I’m no handyman but I do think there’s a certain level of skill we should all have in this field. The art of making homemade gifts, DIY projects and, in general, just being more tactile. My world has increasingly moved online and I need to recapture the physical. Related: hugs!
26. Buy more souvenirs (for myself and for others)
Bringing back gifts from a trip is one of the small pleasures of travel. Nearly everyone does it (including me!) but sometimes I forget to bring back something for my friends and the people that matter most to me. The souvenirs I do buy tend to be of the more original variety.
(I really embrace the same type of “souvenir philosophy” as Kristin from Souvenir Finder). When I’m out buying postcards to send I’ll just have to start picking up the odd souvenir here and there.
27. Read more news (but don’t get stuck in it)
I’ve touched on this point sporadically here on the blog but it’s one I feel quite passionate about. I know there are plenty of folks out there who find the news frustrating and depressing, one-sided and uninspiring, but I feel quite the contrary.
This stems from my desire to be more aware of the world we live in. When reading the news and discovering what’s happening in foreign places it can and does spur action. Whether it’s reading The Economist magazine more often or just following the news of the day, being more aware this year should help me with my more altruistic goals in life.
28. Take a trip to visit someone I know
There are lots of reasons why we travel, but one of my favorites is to visit friends and people I know. Living in Europe I’ve lost touch with more than a few friends back home in America.
And as my circles expand and I meet people from even more faraway places I think it’s important to travel more regularly to keep those positive connections with friends and family around the world.
29. Give a talk or presentation
Oh god. Even the thought of this frightens me. As I grow older and more experienced I’ve realized that I actually know quite a bit about what I’m talking about. It’s just usually I’m talking about it with a few friends or acquaintances around a table in a bar.
Professionally it would make sense to push the boundary further and actually present what I know to a larger audience. Maybe this will be the year?
30. Do 30 days of SOMETHING!
Here’s the big one. This idea came about after spending far too much time on Reddit and YouTube, watching other bloggers and other late-night internet-dwellers putting forth public life goals.
Something I’d love to do is commit to making a change in my habits for 30 days, for one month—the 30 day challenge as it’s called. There are a lot of options here: no fapping, writing every day, taking a picture every day or maybe something else entirely. The point is to start a new habit and see if it’s worth keeping to.
* * *
Putting this list up made feel a bit vulnerable. I’ve shared a lot of information about myself here, even if it doesn’t look like it. These things are a sampling of my goals in life, my philosophies, my thoughts and my passions. I’ve put it all out there now. Let’s see what happens.
You can continue to follow the journey by subscribing for email updates when I publish new content. And please feel welcome to share your own goals and/or tips below in the comments.