Thursday, July 17, 2014

Strike That. Reverse.

Ever since my birthday I've been kicking around the idea of doing a “Thirty by 30” project over the next year. I like the idea of having some middle-term goals to work towards and lists and even numbers are appealing to me. But having a “What do I hope to accomplish in life?” conversation with myself is distinctly unappealing for probably obvious reasons: the odds of my getting married before 30 are pretty slim, and the chances of my having a kid before 30 are days away from being a biological impossibility. It's very depressing to think about, so I tend to try not to. And this idea stayed just an idea.

But last Sunday I went to a fireside where I had the epiphany was prompted by the Spirit to stop focusing so much on things I cannot control and spend some time improving areas that I do. (Side note: The Church is true, guys.) I started making a list that night, but it turns out that thirty things is a LOT of things, so I started Googling some other lists for ideas. And as I looked I was struck by how many goals other people made that I've already accomplished. And how many dreams other people had that I've already fulfilled. And I felt a little bit of the worry about the future dissipate in the wake of a strong feeling of gratitude for the life I've already lived so far. So instead of a “Thirty by 30” list, I started working in reverse and made a list called “Twenty-nine by 29”. Twenty-nine popular accomplishments that I've already achieved -- some I was already proud of, and some I had never thought of before as noteworthy:

1. Fly on a plane
2. Buy a car
3. Move away from home
4. Go to college
5. Go to grad school
6. Get a passport
7. Travel to a foreign country
8. Live in a foreign country
9. Pay off credit card debt
10. Run a half marathon
11. Fall in love
12. Survive a heartbreak and come out stronger
13. Go skinny dipping
14. Get a real job
15. Quit a real job
16. Touch a snake. Voluntarily.
17. Sing karaoke. In public. While sober.
18. Win a championship
19. Live alone
20. Climb to the top of a mountain
21. Sleep on the beach
22. Hold a spider. Voluntarily.
23. Win a contest
24. Get something published
25. Volunteer
26. Learn a foreign language
27. Go on an epic road trip
28. Present at a conference
29. Hold a Guinness World record

I am actually working on my “Thirty by 30” list now, to help me progress into the uncertain future, but I keep this list to remind me of the past that gifted me my present. And at the end of the day, I wouldn't return it for anything in the world.