A new friend from work told me turning 30 was hard for her and how creating a list of things she wanted to accomplish before her birthday really helped her cope. I didn’t really have the same feelings about turning 30, but I was looking for any distraction from myself so started making a list.
I told my brother and sister-in-law about it the night after I finished writing it. My brother was determined to cross something off my list right then and there, despite it being his birthday dinner. We finished eating a fantastic lobster dinner, and then promptly shot-gunned a beer. 29 to go!
My friends were no longer dragging my ass out of bed, but planning with me and helping cross things off my list. My best friend dropped off “the easiest plant to keep alive ever” when she saw I had keep a plant alive for 6 months on my list. I was barely able to keep that thing green, and I don’t actually think it grew at all, but I didn’t kill it! My other friend, a teacher, signed me up to help out with field trips for her class when I said I wanted to volunteer with kids.
I got a call from my best friend from University who is now living out west. She wanted to help and wanted me to come out to visit her, a trip I had been promising for 3 years. We planned out what we could cross off and the next day I booked my flights. Two weeks that included multi-day hikes, a week of camping with zero cell reception, and climbing a mountain.
And then something started to happen. I felt myself opening up more. I started doing things that weren’t even on my list.
When asked by an almost stranger if I would go to a concert because they had an extra ticket, I agreed. I entered a bowling tournament despite not having bowled since my 10th birthday.
Not only did asking become easier, but doing became easier too. If someone wanted to join me, great! If not, I suddenly wasn’t afraid to venture on my own, as it was something I needed to get done whether I had company or not.
I asked a boy I was talking to on online if he wanted to go skydiving on our first date, even though we had never met.
I flew across the country to see Monty Crue in concert.
I hiked to the top of a mountain in the middle of the night just to watch the sunrise.
I had done the resolution thing to no avail. “Lose 15 pounds”, “Get into shape”, “Give up caffeine”. I was never able to accomplish any of them because I lacked the motivation to do them. I like drinking coffee, and hate going to the gym. The only reason why I ever made those my resolutions in the first place was because I thought I should. I never actually wanted to do them when I thought about it.
With my 30 Things list, I was very specific and it was all things I really WANTED to do. It made planning for those things almost as fun as crossing them off. And crossing them off the most fulfilling thing I had ever done.
So, how did it change my life?
I stopped settling. I no longer gave the time to things that I didn’t absolutely want to say yes to. It was either 100% “Fuck yes!”or it was no.
I ultimately left that job that wasn’t challenging. I stopped dating boys I didn’t really care about, just used to fill my days.
I started focusing on spending time with my family and friends and I started to travel. I picked up my camera again, a long forgotten hobby. I planned out my free time to do things I wanted to do.
The truth is, I never finished my list. I got to 27. But I am more than okay with that.
I am proud of myself and had the best year of my life, ultimately accomplishing what I had set out to accomplish. To get out of my comfort zone and start saying yes to myself before anything else.
And now, I am no longer working off a list, but following my heart. Fully and completely, for the first time ever.