What I Learned From Making a 30 By 30 List

A few days before my 28th birthday I decided to create a 30 By 30 list, or a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 30. I had seen one of my friends keep posting on Facebook about her 30 by 30 goals. She happened to live in New Zealand, so I was especially inspired by her photos from her trip scuba diving and other exploration adventures around the other side of the world. So, I decided to make my own list.

The most research I did before creating my list consisted of Googling others’ lists and essentially using the ideas I came across that sounded interesting or fun or challenging. This might be why I ended up editing my list close to 50 times before I turned 30. Well, that and a lot changes in a matter of two years.

At the point of making the list, I had taken a few goal setting workshops or classes. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t really think of these in terms of “goals” to achieve as much as I just thought of them as things I wanted to do. Basically I just didn’t put as much planning or intention into this list as I could have.

Regardless of that, I still learned a ton! It was an incredible experience and truly eye-opening for me. Here are the top three things I learned:

  1. I really can do anything I set my mind to
  2. There will always be circumstances that are outside of your control. Finding a detour to achieve your goal is often necessary. Having the flexibility to adapt to a change in circumstances is one of the key assets you need to achieve your long-term goals.
  3. The goals that scared me the most were the “easiest” to accomplish, only because I was most passionate about them and most determined to accomplish them.

The top 3 accomplishments I am most proud of from this list:

  1. Running a 5K: I actually ran 3 the first summer after I had started training.
  2. Learning More About Wine: Before I started working on this goal, I only knew what I liked and didn’t like. I didn’t know anything more about wine than “white”, “red”, “delicious”, and “ew”. Now I know more than enough to choose a decent bottle in any price range, make recommendations to friends (or even strangers in the store), and enjoy every wine for what it has to offer (even if it isn’t my “favorite”).
  3. Getting and Using a Passport: This was a huge goal and a huge accomplishment. Accomplishing this taught me that I am the only person responsible for making my dreams come true, and I am more than capable of doing so.

With the goal-setting training I’ve had since, I’ve realized more and more that I should be far more intentional with any lists I make in the future. So, my 35 By 35 list (that has been under development for a few months already) is going to be far more purposeful. Here are the steps I’m going to take:

  1. Define my values, priorities, and personal vision of “success”
  2. Define my 10 Year Goals
  3. Define what steps I need to achieve the 10 Year Goals
  4. Create an outline for my goals categorizing them by my values and priorities
  5. Fill the list based on milestones in reaching my 10 Year Goals, and also goals that will lead me to live the life I’ve always dreamed of living.
  6. Don’t sweat them. The purpose of doing this is to chart the map for where I am heading. How I get there, the journey, is the fun part. The list will change, my priorities and values with shift as I learn more about myself and overcome whatever obstacles will arise.


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