For my post today, I thought I’d do something a bit different. My birthday is coming up, and each year I make a list of things that I want to experience over the course of the year. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and I originally got the idea from another blog. (I’m fairly certain that it was from A Beautiful Mess: abeautifulmess.com).
So here’s the idea..
When I was 29, I created a list “30 Things to Do Before 30.” The following year, you update your number so it becomes “31 Things to Do Before 31.” And so on and so forth. I really enjoy this exercise for a few reasons:
1. It helps keep you from becoming complacent. If you feel like you do everything well then you’re probably not challenging yourself. Essentially, my yearly list is 30+ things that prove I suck at stuff. But that’s the beauty of it….By making time to try new things, I’m giving myself permission to not be perfect. For example, I spent a lazy afternoon this past year making homemade marshmallows for my girlfriend, Kris. She loves marshmallows. After all was said and done, I proudly marked it off my list as we dumped my masterpiece into the garbage. We had a blast.
2. It is a way to give focus to your interests. There are so many things that I want to do in life, but I always seem to find myself doing the same things over and over again out of habit. Dinner and a movie is easy, but it can really feel like I’m just phoning it in. Having a list of new experiences makes it easy for me to find simple ways to break out of my comfort zone. If I have a free day, I can just look at my list and have a number of ideas to keep things exciting. This list was the reason that I got the brilliant idea to go to the indoor trampoline park for my 30th birthday party. As I entered this new decade of my life, I wanted something that wasn’t too “grown-up,” and it was perfect. If you’ve ever thought of doing something, but werent’ sure because you thought it seemed intimidating or felt like you were “too old,” “too out of shape,” or “too whatever,” put it on your list! You never know until you try.
3. Sometimes, it just works. Generally speaking, I fumble my way through my experiences hoping not to injure or make a fool of myself. But occasionally, I find a way to make my life easier, more fun, and better through experimentation. Probably one of the simplest goals that I had was simply to “wear a dress.” That’s it. So easy, but it was something that felt really awkward for me. So I forced myself to get one to wear to work one day. LIFE CHANGING! Getting ready for work has never been so easy.
I don’t look at this exercise as another set of things that I SHOULD do, but instead just think of it as a fun way to experiment with things that I WANT to do. Fill your list with simple things that can be tried and crossed off instead of long-range goals. The idea is to stay open to experience, not feel like you have to get your PhD in physics, lose 100 lbs., and run your first marathon (unless that’s your thing). To be honest, I’m lucky if I ever do even 10 of the items on my list, but I figure it’s more than I would have done otherwise. Some items get carried over to the following year and some items get dropped because they no longer interest me.
The point is, I finally got around to going to a ballet (several now that I’ve started), taking barre classes, fixing a broken process at work, trying some DIY recipes, and volunteering my time to a worthy cause. Of course, I’ve also failed to become fluent in French, finish reading “Watership Down,” and I’m still too much of a sissy to ride a horse. But maybe I’ll have better luck this year.
I recommend adding experiences from a variety of areas to your list. For instance, spread them out across personal style, career, intellectual pursuits, and play. A few of my top ones for the coming year are:
1. Take a certification course
2. Buy a nice, structured bag (because at some point you have to be a grownup)
3. Rock some floral Doc Martens (because you never want to grow up completely)
4. Go play paintball
5. Travel someplace new
What about you? I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know what new things you want to try!