When I was 23 and a half-ish, I made a list of 25 things I wanted to do/accomplish by the time I turned 25. It was the end of the summer of 2013, I was still pretty fresh out of university, and I was super motivated by the fact that I had recently discovered bullet journaling and that pens were on sale because back to school sales are the actual best sales (think about it — not only is stationary and pens and computers/tech etc. on sale, but so are, like, half the things you need around your house because #collegedorms).
Here’s a little pic of my list…spoiler: I didn’t finish all 25!
BUT, I did check off quite a number of them – which was great! I knew when I wrote the list that I would not be able to do all 25 things – I purposefully had things on there that I knew I probably wouldn’t do, but threw on for kicks. However, interestingly enough i didn’t do some of the things I totally thought I would (scrapbooking through 2005, learning Greek), , but I did accomplish things that I didn’t think I would actually do (memorizing Philippians and getting 50 views on a blog post).
I bring this up because I find that when I tell people I did this, they are amazed that someone would put that much thought into themselves and being 25. And as I share that I’m looking towards 30 they are still surprised that someone “so young” would be thinking about that.
Here are 5 things I learned when I was reflecting on my 25 by 25 list and making my 30 by 30:
1. I am not a big dreamer!
So here’s a confession…half the things on my list were things I already knew I was going to do. For example, I already had a trip to Europe in the works, and I had already bought tickets to see Relient K in concert — I knew those things were going to happen. And run 5km? Honestly, I knew I could probably do it if I got back into running? Then I started Crossfit and while it was a great fitness goal at the time, I realized that I am capable of so so much more than simply cardio, even if the cardio thing is safer. This is true in my life as well – I’m not a huge risk taker, and I don’t often think of big lofty dreams to attain – they’re usually teeny tiny ones that like, maybe involve me sticking my little toe outside of my comfort zone. Which is ok because they’re more achievable in the short-term, but they’re safe. I need other dreamers and pushers in my life to encourage me to try harder and new things, and to push me to do more and better instead of staying in my little box.
2. Tangible goals are easier to know you’ve accomplished them, but sometimes abstract goals are more realistic
I wanted to lose weight when I was 23-and-a-half-ish. So it was on my list. I didn’t lose the amount on my list…But I did start eating better and working out. I couldn’t really check it off, despite my best intentions. In fact it was one of the most discouraging things to not be able to check off. A more abstract goal like “make healthy lifestyle choices into habits”, while super ambiguous, would have been a more achievable and realistic goal, particularly when it was involving something that required me to drastically change a lot of my regular habits (eating, sleeping, water intake, exercise, etc.). One of my changes for my 30 by 30 list is to leave a few open-ended goals to give myself space to blow it out of the water/just make some progress on it. And it allows me room to grow and develop the goals over the next 4.5 years because things can change! (I still have some very quantifiable things, don’t worry).
3. Setting goals makes you actually get stuff done
I wrote “do a mohawk on my left foot” (I meant a 3 turn in my head, though…skating fan fail), and to be honest if I hadn’t I would not have skated at all any winter. But it was and I did. Quite often! Having something to work towards gave me the extra boost I needed to do certain things. You can’t do a mohawk OR 3 turn unless you’re comfortable on your skates, and you won’t be able to do that unless you skate! Same thing with running – I had to start doing other things so that I could someday be able to run 5k (like, um, running period?). Setting long-term goals can be a step towards setting short-term ones, and maybe it’s the work breakdown structure lover inside of me, but I think it helps us be better stewards of our time and push us towards greater success to have small things we are able to accomplish!
4. Goals and you can change, and that’s ok!
Part of why I never finished my full list is because I, quite honestly, stopped caring about some of the things on my list. I was super into scrapbooking for a long time … but I haven’t been for a long time now, too! That isn’t to say I won’t get back into it, but I’m not going to beat myself up over not doing a certain creative thing when I did other creative things instead, like getting way more into journal making and hand lettering. I even dabbled in painting again. And as I’ve mentioned, I did Crossfit, and now doing a bunch of push ups in a row or being able to do a pull up is way more motivating of a goal than running a long distance. But that could change in 3 years. And that’s ok. I am not less of a list-making-and-achieving-enneagram-6 if I change my mind and accomplish something of equal value to me.
5. Time caps make you realize things
In Crossfit there are time caps on a lot of workouts which are awesome because then you have a. a goal, and b. a salvation point when you get to stop working. In life we don’t really have time caps unless they are self-imposed. We all have them – even if you’re reading this saying “lol Christy I just live my life I don’t have time caps for achievements” I say “uh, yes you probably do, if you think about it.” Anyway … after a crossfit workout time-cap I usually lay there sweating for a while, and then when my brain turns on again I think about how it went, how I feel about it, and what, if anything, I would do differently next time. These are the types of pause-time caps I think we should be taking moments to have. Without them we may not realize that we actually don’t care if we scrapbook our entire lives but we REALLY DO care about learning Greek.
And they teach us that our moments are precious. I found that having this list encouraged me to “take life by the horns” as it were, and try to do things – which is against my lazy tendencies and more in line with living a fulfilling and abundant life. It’s not about getting caught up in the grind, but more about walking through each day with grace and expectancy that there are good things and there is hope in that day.
As I think towards my 30th birthday – which is 4 and a half years away right now – I am still tweaking my list (I had it made shortly after I turned 25 but I, as a not-big-dreamer, have really struggled with thinking of 5-year worthy goals). And so, I have decided to post my 30 by 30 list on an alternate page here. Some of them are blank – yes. But I have no idea what I want 30 to look like, save that when I get there I hope I can say that I lived the last 5 years, and be proud of the successes and mistakes that got me there.