30 by 30: I Need Help

I think a lot of people, especially as we age, like the idea of goal setting. When you were younger your goals typically focused on getting good grades, and getting some guy or girl to like you. Maybe those are still your goals, but most likely upon getting to college and further, your goals have taken a more meaningful and mature turn.

I'm turning 21 this year, and I'm trying to really get my life in order. I decided that I wanted to create a 30 by 30 or 30 before 30 list. I've seen tons of them around the blogosphere, like this one on Endless Bliss, and I decided 9 years was good enough lead time. I came up with around 14 things, and then began to really struggle. What do I want to accomplish in 9 years? What do I care about enough to take to the next level? What can I reasonably accomplish without putting real life aside for a silly list I wrote at 20? Where do I want to be? What can I put on here that won't feel like wasted space, but a real accomplishment?

There are a few things that seem obvious:
  • Learn Spanish again, this time, to the point of fluency
  • Finish writing a book
  • Get a book published (or have a deal in the works)

There are a few that are maybe a little out there:
  • Begin beekeeping
  • Go to the D23 Expo

But after a while, I started to really struggle to think of things worthy of becoming part of this list. Part of it is due to having had a lot of cool experiences-- holding a human brain, going backstage at two Broadway shows, winning a playwriting competition-- these are all things I've already done, and feel really good about. Not that I'm complaining, but it makes it harder though to think of stuff I'd like to do, maybe because the memories of some high points in my life are blocking new ideas from seeping into my brain.

So I started looking around, cruising for ideas. I hit up bucketlist.net to try to get some inspiration. After all, a 30 by 30 list is basically a mini bucket list with a time limit you actually know about-- which is good for goal setting. It helped a little, but most of the ideas were in several categories of no use for my goal-setting.

  • Something I could literally accomplish tomorrow, without any real effort, and therefore deserves to be on tomorrow's to do list, not a 9 year goals list. "Sing a song for a friend" is not bucket-list worthy in most cases. Unless you have a medical condition or a psychological condition that currently makes this really difficult or impossible, this is a pretty boring thing for a long term goal list.
  • Something very, very strange that I have no desire to do. "Make a blood oath" and "Give a friend a racist gift basket" were ideas posted on the site. I don't even know what a racist gift basket is and I hope I never encounter one.
  • Ridiculous, borderline idiotic things. Apparently "throw a dart at a map of the world and go where it lands" is a pretty common one, but why would you want to do that? What if it lands in the ocean? What if it lands on a war zone? How much is this going to cost you? Should you really take two months to travel to India just to prove a point to yourself, when maybe a better goal might be, "buy my own house" or "put away $10k for retirement"? Other things included "try crack cocaine" (WHY?)
  • Things I just don't think I'll follow through on. Learning to play another instrument, for example, is not something I'm sure I want to commit myself to doing in the next 9 years. A Bucket Lister, maybe, but not an item for my 30 by 30 list.
  • Things I literally don't care about. "Go to a music festival" is a really popular one, but I am totally and completely not interested in this. I like music, but I don't think it's my scene at all. In terms of interest, this is akin to "climb a mountain" where if you want to do it, I see the appeal, but I'm not down at all. 
  • Things I think I'll regret later. I guess this kind of goes along with the ridiculous one, but it's a little different, because I can definitely regret something that doesn't sound all that ridiculous. For example "watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's." It sounds and looks so romantic, but I've lived in New York and asked people about it and it's awful. You can't leave. You can't move. You stand literally all day for like 20 hours. You don't really get to eat. People wear diapers because you can't just leave to pee. WHY WOULD YOU WANT THAT?
  • Things I don't have enough control over to make happen. There are things you have a hand in, and there are things you don't. I think the things you can't reasonably do just by going after it, shouldn't go on your list-- for example, meeting a celebrity. Why waste an item on your 30 by 30 list on something you can't go after?
I don't know, maybe I'm kind of wrecking the fun of the exercise by being so pragmatic about it, but for me, these aren't dreams like with a bucket list-- they're goals. I want to have actually crossed these items off my list and felt good about them. I don't want to turn 30 and either have a list full of things I decided weren't worth doing or have a list of things I've done that mean nothing. So I turn to you, dear audience, for your help.

What are you putting on your 30 before 30 list? Where did you get your ideas?

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  1. I think it's good that you're putting a lot of thought into this. Some people just throw some stuff on a list and don't think anything of it. It took me awhile to come up with 30 things from my list too. Some things I just took from my bucket list because I thought it was very plausible that I would be able to accomplish them before I was 30. Therefore, I could cross it off both my bucket list and my 30 before 30 list. Some ideas for you:

    -- Think of your favorite TV show or movie (or top 5). Do they have a theme park or some significant landmarks that you could go visit?

    -- Traveling is always a good one. If you just have somewhere that you want to travel, that's obviously a good one for the list. You have 9 years to save up for it!

    -- Is there a pet that you would like to have? If not, what's your favorite animal? Maybe meeting that animal or petting or feeding it or swimming with it could be an item for the list.

    -- Is there a big event that you've always wanted to go to? I know you said you're not interested in music festivals, but there are events for all kinds of things - fashion, weddings, technology, even blogging.

    -- You could put something about blogging on your list. Like reaching a certain amount of followers or creating blog business cards. Just something significant that you would like to accomplish for your blog that isn't an overnight task.

    -- Are there any historical places you would like to see? Like Mount Rushmore or anything in Washington, D.C. Or maybe somewhere historical for you, like the hospital you were born in or where your parents got married or something like that.

    -- Is there something you've always wanted to learn but haven't? I know you mentioned Spanish and instruments, but maybe there's something else, like painting or cake decorating or crocheting or something else that you would like to learn.

    -- I know you mentioned writing and publishing a book. Maybe there's some sort of writing seminar or something that you would like to attend that would be significant help for that.

    -- Do you collect anything? You could set a goal for yourself to have a certain number of that thing. I like movies, and I have a ton, so I set a goal to have 500 before I turn 30. (Yikes! That's a lot)

    -- Maybe there's something significant in your area that you've never gone to but would like to, like a festival or a restaurant or a secret supper. That could be good for your list if you can think of anything.

    -- Something you could do on a road trip not to far from where you are. For example, there's this place a few hours away from me that has tree cottages for you to stay in. Something unique like that. If you like outdoorsy stuff, maybe camping or glamping or hiking or something.

    That's all I can think of right now, but I'll keep racking my brain. I used bucketlist.org for inspiration. I don't know how different that is from bucketlist.net. And thanks so much for referencing my list! That's so sweet of you!

    1. Thanks for so many thoughtful ideas!

      I guess part of why it's hard is because I picture the next chunk of my life in New York City, without a car, and scrimping to be able to survive and put money away for retirement. I'm putting over a thousand dollars into a fund for my retirement this year, and I really believe in early investing.

      I like the idea of putting restaurants or other experiences on the list like conferences and stuff. I've always wanted to go to Comic Con! I think I'll put both San Diego and New York Comic Cons on my list!

      Thanks for all the inspiration, including your lovely list.