Last year, about the time my 29th year of life rolled around, I jumped on the 30 Before 30 bandwagon and, you guessed it, I wrote 30 things I hoped to accomplish by the time I was 30. True to form, and true to how I treat every aspect of my life, I ambitiously overachieved and tried to reach for the stars (surprisingly, reaching for the stars was one thing that wasn't on my list, but is something I actually did). Now, here I am, a mere few weeks from the big 3-0 feeling defeated because my goals weren't met. It's a pattern I'm all too familiar with. Wanting so much out of life that you try to set goals that aren't realistic, you know they aren't realistic but you think this one time you might actually accomplish them so you set them anyways, only to be horribly let down into the depths of despair when you don't achieve them, thereby fulfilling nothing but the fact that your intuition was right all along. It's a vicious cycle, I tell you.
While dreams, goals and planning are crucial to running a business, and living life, I've learned that goals and dreams often get tangled up in one big confusing mess. Dreams are the big picture, the destination at the end of the road, the ultimate thing to check off of your bucket list. Goals are the baby steps that get you there. Dreams can be complicated and far-fetched, goals should be simple and realistic. Dreams will inspire you and push you to be a better version of yourself, goals should remind you that you're human and you can only do so much. If used properly, goals should help you eventually achieve your dreams but rarely ever make you feel you feel like you failed or did something wrong.
Keeping all that in mind, I wanted to turn my defeated frown upside down and look at my 30 Before 30 list from a different perspective. Not the perspective of what I did and didn't accomplish, but instead from the perspective of what steps I took in achieving my dreams, what lessons I learned, what things I'm grateful for, and, when all else fails, a bit of humor, because at the end of the day, the biggest lesson of all is learning to laugh- laugh things off, laugh because you're enjoying life, laugh because you see the bright side in a situation, laugh because you're happy. I encourage you all to do the same, if you have similar lists. Stop putting the pressure on yourself to do all these things that you realistically can't and instead enjoy the opportunities and lessons life hands you and remember to always keep looking and moving forward.
1. Visit Hawaii and Alaska to complete visiting all 50 states> Traveling the world is fun, but the world isn't going anywhere (at least for the foreseeable future) so if travel plans change, it's ok. Those places will still be there.
2. Watch 30 classic films> I watched a lot of classic films (they're pretty much my favorite), but I don't know if it was exactly 30. What I do know, is that I enjoyed the quality time I had with my husband during any movie, classic or not, that we watched.
3. Relearn French> This one is forever a work in progress (that has been kicked into high gear because we leave for our trip next week). While it would be nice to be fluent in French (and Italian), the important thing is that I still make time for hobbies that help me to grow and educate myself further.
4. Cook my way through “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”> Considering there are more recipes in this book than there are days in the year, I'm not sure what I was thinking with this lofty goal. I did at least make Beef Bourganogn and I cooked my way through a variety of other dishes, cuisines and locations.
5. Learn to make macarons> Does eating macarons count?! Because I certainly mastered that!
6. Pay off one of my two student loans> This is just a whole other beast of a monster. While it does nothing to help me deal with my stress, dealing with loan companies has definitely strengthened (or maybe just tested?!) my patience.
7. Take even better care of my skin by getting monthly facials> I definitely did not take care of my skin, but I did give myself at home facials, I booked a facial for after our Paris trip, and I've taken better care with what I put in my body and let's face it (no pun intended), good skin starts from the inside out.
8. Start printing off pictures again> Does it count if you draw pictures? Or print them off for other people? Because then I definitely did that!
9. Take photos for things other than just work> The work and personal line has become blurred so I'm not really sure if I took pictures for things other than work, but I do know that I took a lot of pictures.
10. Scrapbook pictures from our travels over the last 5 years> And by scrapbook, we mean organize them in folders on our phones and then look over and reflect on them together right?!
11. Take a spontaneous vacation> We haven't necessarily taken a spontaneous vacation (they're usually planned months in advance) but our spontaneity when it comes to booking them is definitely a solid A+.
12. Ride in a hot air balloon> Well, I rode in a helicopter around NYC and it was kind of epic, so does that count?!
13. Send a handwritten letter once a month> Emails still vie for my attention on this one, but we did send postcards from Italy.
14. Always make sure that my nails and brows are tidy> Check please!
15. Learn to let go of things I can’t control, negativity, and self-doubt> A big work in progress, but I have made major progress and progress is better than perfection.
16. Continue to grow and expand the RC brand> This statement leaves a lot of room for, well, anything, and is a perfect example of where I tried to set a goal but it came out as a dream. As far as goals are concerned, I've checked a lot off. As far as the overall RC dream is concerned, though, I'm still traveling down that road.
17. Go on a fancy date with Mr. RC to Per Se> We didn't make it to Per Se, but we did go on dates, and at the end of the day, that's what matters, that we still want to go on dates with each other, not where we go on them.
18. Buy myself a new handbag> I did actually accomplish this one. However, even if I hadn't, the lesson here is to remember to spoil yourself, even if it's as simple as buying yourself a special latte or taking a bubble bath.
19. Take myself out for lunch or coffee (I have a weird fear of dining alone)> I did do this. Twice. I'm still terrified by it. Lesson: Do things that terrify you. They will make you grow and become a better person....I think.
20. Read all the books on this list> Not sure what "this list" is because I somehow forgot to link to it, but I definitely didn't do much book reading. I've made a new list on my Kindle, to tackle this year, and I now schedule in 5 minute breaks for reading throughout the day. I said it before, and I'll say it again, the important takeaway is take time to take care of yourself, even if it's something simple and small.
21. Volunteer on a monthly basis (at the very minimum, but would like to do more)> I'm not sure why this one is so hard for me to accomplish as I grew up volunteering and always enjoyed it. However, volunteering or not, the important thing is to remember to be kind, loving and helpful no matter what. Of course, helping in a soup kitchen is great, but the little things (like giving up your subway seat, surprising someone with flowers, holding the door, etc) are just as important, too.
22. Get a frenchie (woof! woof!)> We did not do this. We did, however, watch our friend's frenchie which led us to realizing just how small our apartment really is. So we'll be sticking to taking care of our street cat friends for the immediate future...
23. Become more active in our church community> We haven't gotten more involved with our community, but the Mr. and I have spent more time praying together every day and as far as I'm concerned that counts. I hope God counts it, too...
24. Try a food I’ve never tried before (maybe escargot?! ewwww)> I eat so many things at so many events I'd like to think I tried something new, but nothing comes to mind. However, I did try lots of new restaurants. Takeaway: try, try, try again.
25. Other travel goals for the year- Italy, Iceland, Ireland, Prince of Edward Island> One, who do I think I am? Someone with a private plane?! Because I don't know how else I thought I was getting to these places (plus Hawaii and Alaska). Two, we did make it to Italy (finally!). Three> never stop exploring (even if it's just in your backyard)!
26. Learn to manage my stress> HA! That's a funny one! I have started a few practices (Hi, yoga!) that seem to help a bit, but otherwise, alls I have to say is if you can't manage it, learn to laugh at it (or something), because it will drive you insane!
27. Get my work/life balance under control> Well, look at me, cracking two jokes in a row! Is there even such a thing anymore?! I don't know if there is, but I do know, if you find something you love, make it your job and work/life balance won't feel like such a balancing act.
28. Go to the top of the Empire State Building> I did not climb it, but I did see it from new heights (Hi, helicopter!) and I'd say that's kind of the same thing. Lesson: Reach for new heights in new ways.
29. Treat my Mom and brother to something special> I'd like to think I did this, even though it wasn't exactly the special I had in mind. At the end of the day, though, just treat your loved ones with love and never take them for granted. In today's world, that's incredibly rare, which means it's also incredibly special.
30. Enter 30 without any fear or regrets> The key to this is being able to live in the moment, learn from the past and take those life experiences and lessons and apply them to the future. I know this and yet I still struggle with it. Obviously, I'll keep you updated on this one come March 11th. I'm guessing I might still have some fears, but seeing as I'll be ushering in my birthday in the sight of the Eiffel tower it seems far fetched to think that I will have regrets.
Do you have a 30 Before 30 (or similar) list? Do you find that you've actually accomplished things on the list, or do you find yourself frustrated by it?