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40 Before 40

40 Before 40

I’ve never been obsessed with my age, other than the obvious milestones of turning 16 and being able to drive, or turning 21 and having my first legal drink. Turning 30 didn’t make me feel old or make me question my life choices, and neither will (I hope) turning 40.

But first comes turning 39. This actually happened on Sunday, and while I feel exactly the same as I did the day before, the approaching milestone birthday has made me think about my goals, hopes and even some concerns that I’m growing complacent in my life.

I know life can change in the briefest of moments and I never want to take anything for granted. I want to continue to learn and grow and take on exciting new challenges, and that’s why I’ve come up with a list I’m calling 40 Before 40!

40 things I want to do, learn, try or accomplish before my next birthday. As you’ll see (if you make it through the list) some are BIG and some border on mundane. Call it my “bucket/personal growth/wish/to-do list“. The only thing they all have in common is my dedication to crossing them off before I turn the big 4-0.

And what happens if there’s something I don’t finish before my next birthday? Why, I’ll just keep going easy on myself of course!



  1. Take an international trip alone. It can be anywhere, as long as it requires my passport! I’ve traveled quite a bit internationally, but always with someone else. And I’ve traveled alone domestically, mostly for work. Taking a trip abroad alone sounds exciting and a bit scary, and a challenge I’m ready for!
  2. Take Spanish lessons. The benefits of speaking a least a little Spanish are obvious, especially since I’d like to start traveling in South and Central America more in the coming years.  Done!
  3. Learn a new sport. Will it be scuba? Will it be pickleball? Stay tuned to find out (even I don’t know yet!)
  4. Get in shape! This one is a little personal, and I’m not going to share the specifics of how many inches or lbs I’d like to lose. Instead let’s just say I want to be in the best shape of my life!
  5. Organize all 7 closets at home. An exciting goal, right? Well for me it is. I’m happier when I’m well organized, but since moving most of my closets have remained in a state of nightmarish messiness, and it ends now! (Or, within the next 12 months, haha)
  6. Run a race. Something I’ve never done, but I’ve always thought would be fun! I’m thinking a 10k maybe?
  7. Foster at least 10 animals. Although I’ve fostered dozens and dozens of dogs in my adult life, I’ve “only” fostered 6 since I moved and began volunteering with Dumb Friends League. My goal for the next year is a 66% increase!
  8. Learn to install my own lighting fixtures. My ex-husband and I remodeled two homes together, but honestly he did most of the labor (I was more into the design aspect). Since buying my townhouse I’ve had to take on a lot more of the projects myself, like swapping out outlets and such.The next logical step is replacing the 4 ceiling lights that are totally dated and have to go.
  9. Climb two more 14ers (doubling my current count!). This one is pretty self-explanatory. Climbing 14ers is hard and amazing and I want to climb more!
  10. Take a really long hike alone. Probably not a 14er (have you ever seen a 14er trail with no one else on it??), but a long challenging hike alone sounds like the perfect opportunity for introspection.
  11. Volunteer with humans. No clue what organization I’ll volunteer with, but I’m thinking something along the lines of teaching basic computer skills to folks trying to get back into or jumpstart their careers… homeless or elderly? This one will take some research.
  12. Create a log of all the books I’ve read (as an adult). Oh boy, this one is going to be a challenge, but it’s something I’d love to have. Sounds like a great winter project right?
  13. Read at least 4 books per month. I’m a pretty voracious reader, so this shouldn’t be hard.
  14. Read every book by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters (that I haven’t already). I’m an 18th Century British Fiction nerd and I don’t care who knows it! Charlotte Bronte wrote my all time favorite novel (Jane Eyre), but Jane Austen is also a favorite. I’ve read most of their major works, but there are still a few gaps I can fill in.
  15. Learn to crochet. I already know how to knit, but I’d really like to learn to crochet as well. This has actually been on my list for a while.
  16. Finish downstairs remodel completely. I busted my @ss with painting before I left for Iceland, but when I got back… I got complacent. Time to finish!
  17. Make 5 new friends. As we get older it’s so easy to settle in with the friends we already have, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I have more (and better) girlfriends now than I’ve ever had in my life and I love that, but my guy friends are awesome too. I want to continue to build on that momentum and add more, interesting, friends!
  18. Go river rafting in Colorado. Each spring when the Colorado rivers start to rage, I say I’m going to do it… so I guess this is The Year. I’ve been on the Snake River in Wyoming, and the Green River in Utah, but neither were exactly “rapids”, and that’s what I want to try.
  19. Do something that scares me. I don’t know what yet, so this one will stay open.
  20. Paint all my pets. I already painted Cooper, so now it’s Sally and Teddy’s turn- along with as many past furry family members as I can get done. I’m envisioning all the canvases organized on the staircase wall at home, so I see them multiple times a day.
  21. Hang art in my house. Call it adulting if you will, but I’ve lived here almost 2 years, and it’s time to decorate – and not just with my pet portraits either.
  22. Take my yoga practice to the next level. Every time I read a post by Angie on her yoga practice I’m reminded of how important it used to be to me. There were a few things that took me away from it- a repeatedly broken foot, perceiving myself as being “too busy”, etc- but I’d like to at least make an effort to explore yoga again.
  23. Create a more aggressive financial independence plan. I’m fortunate enough to be one of those nerds who started contributing to her 401(k) in her early 20’s, and am well on the way to early “retirement” (which, if you’re a PF blog/podcast nerd like I am, you know actually just means financial independence), but I’d like to pin down a more aggressive plan that will give me that independence sooner. This is important to me because it would allow me the freedom to choose a job I love, without worrying about the salary. Done!
  24. Transform my bedroom into comforting oasis. When I bought my townhouse I purposely took the smaller bedroom as the master because it has an exposed brick wall, and I loved that. I had an image in my mind of cozy afternoons spent napping, or evenings reading with candles burning, all while surrounded by tranquil beauty. Time to make that happen!
  25. Rededicate myself to TWV? This blog is incredibly important to me, but I’ll be the first to admit I’ve let it slide. I want to get back to posting meaningful content on a regular basis, and taking on more exciting projects!
  26. Visit at least 2 more museums. Denver has tons of great museums, and I’ve been to exactly 2 of them. I’m going to at least double that number.  Done!
  27. Write my will. My mom actually mentioned this while we were having lunch the other day, and it feels important. Mostly because I need to make sure that if something were to happen, the dogs are taken care of, but also because this is a good opportunity to think about which charities I want to include.
  28. Visit my family in Atlanta. I have all this wonderful family on my dad’s side, who I reconnected with at his funeral. Many of them live in /around Atlanta and I have a standing invite to visit, so it’s time to take them up on that.
  29. Take a road trip. Where, when and with whom are all TBD, but I love road trips and I haven’t taken on in years. My most epic to-date was when I was 21, and my step-brother and his at-the-time gf and I drove from NH to San Diego after I finished undergrad. Luckily that was before cell phones had cameras in them 😉
  30. Try to have a more positive outlook on Sundays and Mondays. I don’t walk around complaining about it, but I definitely find myself with a case of “The Smondays” most weeks. It’s silly and it’s a waste of time and of my life and I want to be more positive!
  31. Visit a farm animal sanctuary. I’ve visited wild animal and big cat sanctuaries (The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO being my hands-down fave!), but never one for farm animals. As a vegan, this is something that I need to rectify ASAP.
  32. Enjoy my yard and fire pit on a regular basis. I spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time and money making my little yard cute and comfortable (outdoor couches, a fire pit, landscaping) but I often forget to take the time to enjoy it.
  33. Meet my neighbors. I know one of my neighbors. And only because SHE made the effort to introduce herself.
  34. Get over my “fear” of baking. I say that I can’t bake, but this isn’t actually true. There are cake recipes on this blog! Still, I feel that I’m not very good at it, and I’d like to get past that perception.
  35. Keep monthly mileage on my car below 500 (6k annual). My car only has ~40k miles on it which is pretty good, considering it’s a 2012. And since I plan to keep it forever (or as long as possible), putting fewer miles on it just seems smart. A big part of this will be motivating myself to take the bus back and forth to work every day.
  36. Ride my bike more. I want to ride it more for fun (both on my local paved trails and in the mountains), but also as a way to support #36. I think it would be fun to ride my bike for more errands, or back and forth to my mom’s house, rather than driving all the time. Plus, it gives me more exercise!
  37. Practice eating only when I’m actually hungry. Yes, I realize this is a first world problem, but it’s still important to me. I’m one of those people who eats my feelings, who eats mindlessly, and who will eat something just because it’s there. It’s not healthy, and I think it lowers my overall enjoyment of food, so I’m going to work on only eating when I’m hungry.
  38. Hike Devil’s Causeway (and live to tell about it!)At 11,800 feet and just four feet wide in places – with sheer drops of several hundred feet on either side…” this sounds like a frightening yet AWESOME hike! I’ve wanted to do it for years but no one was brave enough to go with me. Maybe one of my new friends will, or maybe it’s the hike I do alone!?
  39. Watch more classic films, and become knowledgeable about the genre. I’ve always liked the well known classics that I’ve seen (Casablanca, Mommie Dearest, etc) but as I’ve been listening to this great podcast (You Must Remember This) I’m learning to much more, and being introduced to such a wider variety of classics than I ever realized existed. I think this would be a really cool topic to be knowledgeable about- plus it puts “watching movies” on my list haha
  40. TBD. Because who knows what the next 12 months will bring?







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{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Ann November 1, 2016, 12:20 pm

    I love this idea! I’d like to do something similar before my next birthday.

    • Barb November 2, 2016, 9:34 am

      You should!

  • Katie November 2, 2016, 8:06 am

    I’m so proud of you for taking on all these challenges. It looks like you’re going to have a GREAT year! 🙂

    • Barb November 2, 2016, 9:34 am

      Thank Katie- I think it’s going to be challenging but fun!

  • Angie November 6, 2016, 10:16 am

    First of all, happy birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day and it sounds like this is going to be an intentional year. I can’t wait to follow your journey as you begin crossing these amazing goals off your list.

    PS-for #20, paint your dogs, I immediately thought of you physically painting the dogs themselves, as in applying paint to the dogs! I guess that’s because I once colored my childhood dog with scented markers because she stunk.

    • Barb November 10, 2016, 4:58 pm

      Thanks Angie- and that’s HILARIOUS!

  • Jennifer November 21, 2016, 2:27 pm

    Wow that is a looong list! I am getting overwhelmed myself. XD I hope you blog about your progress. Can I recommend checking out Bringing Up Baby and It Happened One Night as classics you should check out? They are two of my favorite films, and are still really funny!

    • Barb November 22, 2016, 8:27 am

      Thank you SO MUCH for the recommendations! 🙂

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