While in college, I made a “Bucket List.”
Being 21 years old at the time, the scope of my list was a little limited and a lot self-centered.
It included things like travel to Europe, get a body piercing, and learn to sail. I’ve been to France, Italy, and Greece. My body piercings were taken out almost as soon as I put them in. And I still haven’t learned how to sail. Besides that, my list has been mostly fulfilled.
Now that I’ve turned forty (eeek!), I find myself reflecting on that list, and other similar ‘bucket-type’ lists. There’s “30 adventures to have Before 30,” or “40 Life Lessons You Learn Before 40.” “29 things to do while in your 20’s” and (my personal favorite), “40 ways that 40 is in new 30.” (Barf sounds.)
People have been encouraging me that 40 is great! Life starts after 40! You stop caring what other people think at 40! You have yourself figured out at 40! 40 is the new 30 (whatever that means – 40 is still 40, and a hard pill to swallow).
I think we need to rethink this whole “before” list idea. Why put limits on ourselves? Why rush to fulfill some arbitrary timeline that Cosmopolitan magazine set for us?
People are individuals. And people’s lives are individual. There’s no timeline anymore.
There’s no one keeping track. Forty-somethings have children, or start new careers, or become grandparents, or get their doctorates. What if we all stopped making lists of all the things to do before we reach some point (or the end point) and start opening ourselves up to the possibilities of what we can do after.
What can I do after today? After my next birthday? After my next milestone, or goal, or accomplishment?
So I asked myself, “What’s next?”
And here it is. My personal After list.
40 Things I’m going to do AFTER I turn 40
1. Learn to sail.
It is, after all, the only thing left from my 21-year-old goals list. Might as well keep it.
2. Stop limiting myself.
3. Let my hair go natural.
I encountered a young 20-something hipster a little while back who had paid enormous amounts of money to put grey and silver highlight streaks into her hair. Apparently aging is fashionable now. Good thing I get my silver highlights for free.
4. Give myself permission.
To do those things I always thought I needed approval for.
France, Italy, Greece, and the Egyptians pyramids are knocked off the list. Time to add Germany, London, Ireland, and New York City to my must-see places.
Here it is.
7. Speak up.
In all the ways I’ve been silent.
8. Present my ideas.
The worst thing people can do is reject them. And now I realize that I won’t die if I experience a little rejection.
9. Apply for everything.
You can’t regret the opportunities you didn’t even try.
10. Put my name in the hat.
StorySlam – even the name just sounds like something you want to be a part of. The Moth is an amazing thing where ordinary people tell extraordinary tales. And I have some doozies.
11. Play with my kids.
12. Build forts.
13. Let go of the mom I thought I would be.
Before kids, I had this picture of me as a Pinterest-pinning, home-cooking, all-natural, no-screen-time, baked-treats-and-roast-on-Sundays kind of mom. I cried the first time I gave my daughter formula. But guess what? Nothing happened. Now, my kids eat sugar and non-organic food. They watch Disney. I order pizza. And they are still doing fine, growing, and living happily.
14. Go camping, even if it’s just in the backyard.
15. Take my kids on roadtrips.
No further explanation is needed. Something happens to turn all your previous priorities right on their head when you have kids. I hope you can experience the life-changing, world-disrupting wonderful, heartwrenching power of having children.
16. Get another dog.
For those priorities above.
17. Use paper plates.
I consider myself a sudo-liberal. I care about the environment enough to recycle. I want our country to have open borders. But I’m also a working mom. Who likes to write on the weekends. And has a messy house, and has to figure out dinner every night, and has to walk the dog, and feed the cat, and clean the bathroom, and keep up with laundry, and wash the dishes, and occasionally work late, and, and, and . . .
So, sorry globe. We’re adding to the trash, diminishing our stress, and eating off paper products for now. See #4 for my excuse.
18. Date my husband.
We have family time with all four of us. Then my daughter and I have girl time while my husband and son have boy time. Then there’s daddy-daughter time and mommy-son time, and writing alone time for me and fishing alone time for my husband. And – whoops! We forgot couple time. It’s hard when you’re a working parent to purposefully leave your kids behind, again. But it’s important. Our family, our household, and our lives run smoother when the two of us can get out and date each just like we did when we met and couldn’t keep our hands off of each other.
19. Try out new careers.
Like blogger, for instance. Who knows what else? In the spirit of #9, I’m leaving doors open.
20. Leave projects undone, books unread, resolutions unresolved.
I am a little OCD when it comes to finishing things. For most of my life, I have made it a point not to start something unless I know for certain I will be successful at finishing it. And if I start something and it begins to get hard to finish, I won’t give myself permission to give up on it (thus, #4 again). So, instead of trudging through that novel that I really don’t like, or hitting my head up against a wall with a project that just doesn’t work, or refusing to start something unless garaunteed success, I’m going to leave things alone.
21. Forgive myself.
22. Befriend failure.
23. Stop scrolling and start using.
Social media (being from Gen X) is still a little bit of a strange world to me. I feel as though I am a naturalized immigrant citizen in the world of social media. I’m not a native, and I’m not really a foreigner. I’m somewhere in between. Which is why the concept of using social media to further my goals was foreign to me until I started blogging. All of a sudden Facebook became a place to promote myself instead of where my family engages in silent drama.
24. Play more piano and guitar.
They were my first loves, after all.
For retirement, kids’ college, everything I’ll need money for in #5.
26. Update my house.
Instead of moving to a new one, I want to make the house I live in into my dream home.
27. Get at least 1,000 followers.
Can you help?? Send this post to ten friends!
28. Publish at least one non-fiction book.
Publish. Not just write.
29. Write my memiors.
Apart from the above non-fiction book. Write, maybe publish.
30. Get paid speaking gigs.
31. Speak at a TED event.
32. Move more.
Things don’t move the way they did when I was 23. But the only way to fix that – more moving.
33. Be brave.
34. Make Sundays sacred.
When I was growing up, Sunday was the sabbath. We wore dresses (boys wore ties) to church and then stayed inside the house in our best church clothes. All. Day. We couldn’t watch TV, play in the backyard, go to a friend’s house, or even change out of our dresses. I (shocker) was not the dress-wearing type so I didn’t take well to these Sundays. As soon as I left that religion and was out on my own, I used Sundays to do all of those things I could never do before. Now, even though we are not regular church-goers and I usually spend Sundays in pj’s rather than “church clothes,” I realize the beauty of ‘Sabbath.’ Sundays have, by default and because of football season, become family days. It’s the days we make french toast, stay in our pj’s and build forts. It’s the days we are just the four of us with no agenda or schedule. They’re sacred.
35. Miss opportunities.
It’s OK if you’re confused. #9 is the exact opposite of this. While I do want to put myself out there more, I also have to realize my limits. I can’t do it all. So there will be things, opportunities that I will need to let go.
36. Get up early.
Oh, how sweet those days I could sleep until 9:00 AM on a weekend. Might as well, get up at 5:00 on a Saturday and get stuff done with my writing instead of laying in bed complaining.
37. Get business and marketing savvy.
38. Increase my internet presence.
See my blog post here
40. Start a school.
Because, why not?