For several weeks, I’ve been working on, delaying, inching toward, and now finally sharing this post. It is the distillation and commitment of my 40 for 40 list – the 40 things I want to do before my 40th birthday later this year. It is inspired by an episode of the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth (Liz) Craft where they encouraged their listeners to commit to their own happiness projects. For the podcast, it was about committing to 18 goals in 2018 but because 40 is a big year, I more than doubled the goal to a sweet 40!
At one point, I had well over 150 items on my list. Because I’ve never been good at moderation or settling, I always end up with gigantic lists that I can never complete and always leave me feeling disappointed. It doesn’t matter that I finished 10 chores in a weekend because my list will have always been for 30 or more. I rationally know that I do this but have never been able to break the habit. The same held true for this exercise so I ended up spending quite a lot of time sitting with, scrutinizing, and slowly wittling down the list to a final 40. It was a good exercise as it forced me to think about how much I cared about something, the level of effort it would take to complete, and how that all stacked up against the other items. I can say now, with confidence, that I feel good about this list and that I have a good chance of completing it.
The list is a combination of self-improvement, career, creativity, practical needs, and relationship goals. I’m giving myself until the end of 2018 to complete the list. Some of the goals began last year when I first began thinking about this project and others have yet to begin. Some are about growth and challenging myself and others are about crossing off longstanding back burner projects – if for no other reason than piece of mind. Some are big and some are small. Some are hard work and some are easy fun. I like the balance of all the above both because I think it will keep things interesting and because I think it’ll make it likelier to succeed. I tried to make each a quantifiable goal – nothing too ambiguous – and nothing too monolithic that it would be impossible to finish in time.
I’ll check in time-to-time to provide an update – and some external accountability. If you’ve ever done a similar project, I’d love to hear what you found worked best for you.
40 for 40 List
In no particular order.
- Explore Seattle and Washington State. Complete at least two trips outside Seattle, try 10 new restaurants, and explore 10 new neighborhood shops. In progress
- Create a 2018 memory box. Keep the tradition going by creating an annual keepsake collection. In progress
- Send handmade holiday cards. Recommit to a past tradition by sending handmade cards to friends and family.
- Post to tinsel + trim monthly. Post at least one new item to the blog every month for 12 consecutive months. In progress
- Practice illustration and graphic pattern design. Sketch pattern ideas every day for a month.
- Learn how to use Glowforge. My office recently got a Glowforge and I want to make at least three projects with it.
- Practice fabric dying. I’ve already been working with Shibori and this summer and fall I’ll be taking classes on natural fabric dying. In progress
- Make punch needle piece. Last year, I took a class with Rose Pearlman through Purl Soho. My goal now is to finish a piece to hang on the wall. In progress
- Freshen outdoor living. I have a long wish list of patio improvements. For this goal, I want to finish at least five of them.
- Freshen indoor living. Same as above; I have a long wish list of home sprucing and want to finish at least five of them this year. In progress
- Organize contacts. My contact records are all over the place. This goal is to consolidate and update them. In progress
- Update passwords. I’m guilty of using the same passwords for years. This year I aim to update them all in order to keep my accounts secure. In progress
- Create a budget. I’m pretty good about saving but I haven’t set a budget in over a year. This goal is about looking for ways to be more financially responsible.
- Write a will. A back burner goal that is long over due.
- Rollover 401Ks Another long over due goal.
- Organize digital files. Similar to my contacts, my files are in great disarray and this goal aims to get them in a more secure state.
- Improve backup plan. Related to #16, this is about having a smart backup plan for all my treasured digital photos and files.
- Reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues. I’ve never been strong at staying in regular contact with those for whom I care about most. This goal aims to not let so much time pass between touch points. In progress
- Always send birthday greetings. Related to #18, this goal is about celebrating friends and family. In progress
- Launch women in technology quotes website. A passion project that aggregates the wisdom of women leaders in the technology sector. In progress
- Update resume. Another project that often gets neglected but is always good to have current no matter your immediate career plans.
- Write and publish three articles. Work on developing my professional voice and perspective through writing.
- Learn Sketch. An industry standard for design, I have fallen behind while focused on managerial responsibilities. This is goal is a good opportunity to rebuild my design muscle while learning a new tool.
- Update portfolio. Related to #21, it’s always good to have this current regardless of whether you’re actively job hunting. As a manager, I have a new challenge around how best to frame my work these past few years.
- Submit two conference proposals. I don’t love public speaking but I always push myself to do at least one presentation a year. I can’t control if I get selected but I can submit proposals.
- Practice direct communication. I’ve become increasingly direct in recent years but I recognize I have more work to do. This goal doesn’t have concrete criteria beyond a general commitment to make it a daily practice. In progress
- Stop apologizing. Specifically, this is related to apologizing for delayed email responses. I have a lot on my plate and can’t always reply quickly. I need to avoid the trap of starting every response with an apology.
- Track food. Log all food intake for 30 consecutive days to form a new habit around mindful consumption. In progress
- Maintain nightly skin care routine. I’m good about my morning routine but tend to lapse at night. The goal here is to follow my night routine for 30 consecutive days in the hopes of forming a lasting habit. In progress
- Try acupuncture. Explore the benefits of acupuncture by completing at least 12 sessions. In progress
- Try fencing. Explore ways of releasing stress while getting exercise through fencing. Complete at least the beginner training series. In progress
- Walk to work once a week. Walk to work at least once a week for 12 consecutive weeks. In progress
- Practice meditation. Explore the health benefits of meditation by practicing for 30 consecutive days. In progress
- Practice yoga. Explore the health benefits of slow yoga by practicing at least once a week for 12 consecutive weeks. In progress
- Get a health checkup. Terrible, I know, but I haven’t been to the doctor in nearly 18 months.
- Workout. Complete at least 50 workout sessions. Currently, I’m doing circuit training twice a week in the mornings. In progress
- Floss. Floss nightly for 30 consecutive nights.
- Practice daily gratitude. Take time to reflect on each day, what went well, and who helped make the day brighter. Practice for 30 consecutive days.
- Volunteer. Volunteer with a local non-profit for at least 16 hours.
- Journal. Write in journal daily for 30 consecutive days.