The Moon
Shoot for the Moon, but it’s not very SMART

Psychologists will tell you that making New Year’s resolutions don’t work. People usually try and change too much, which is unmanageable and ultimately leads to failure, or they don’t make specific enough goals and therefore don’t achieve anything. I trot this out every year when people ask me about resolutions, but while logically I know all this, there’s a little part of me that loves resolutions. I just love fresh starts, fresh pieces of paper, the national New Year mentality. When making goals people often recommend the SMART method. That means goals should be:





Time Bounded

By setting smart goals, you are more likely to achieve them. You can shoot for the moon – it worked for NASA – but most people would look up, realise it’s a really long way and they have no way of getting there, and just go and have a nap instead.


I haven’t set any New Year’s resolutions, I’m going one better. Well, actually 40 better. It’s 4 short years till I turn 40, and I am going down the incredibly cliché route of attempting to do 40 things before I hit the big  4-0. Turns out finding 40 challenges is actually quite hard, so I did a bit of research on the many other lists of Things to Do Before an Arbitrary Date. Travel came up an awful lot, as did doing stupid-assed things like throwing yourself out of a plane. Problem is, a lot of these things cost quite a lot of money, and while I’d love to go on a safari, trek Machu Picchu, and eat at a Michelin starred restaurant, I would also have to add ‘win the lottery’ to the start of my list. So I needed a more realistic list, such as 40 (realistic) things to do before you turn 40. And while I’m no fan of glossy magazine usually I liked Cosmopolitan’s list.


On my list you will find a range of things, some that involve saving up some cash or major presents (just sayin’…), others just involve a bit of effort on my part, things I might not otherwise do without some sort of impetus, like reading a really challenging book, learning to juggle. Some activities are just made for doing with friends, so I am looking for volunteers for busking and karaoke. Do I think I will complete all of these before I am 40? Probably not, but actually that doesn’t matter, because if it gets me trying new things, that’s all that matters. Some might turn out to be unrealistic – I already took off ‘Be a life model’ because it turns out that is actually harder to get into that you’d think, they want actual professional. Preliminary googling suggests I can learn how to back flip or somersault just by watching some videos. We’ll see how that turns out… While 40 things in 4 years seems an intimidating list I am hoping I can combine some, like a road trip, star gazing, sunrise and skinny dipping, that sounds like a trip for DH and I to the Scottish Highlands or similar. And I might want to perfect juggling, somersaulting and steel drums before trying busking.


So, are my goals SMART? Well, most of them are specific (need to scope out that Like Myself one), nearly all of them are measurable (but how will I know if I like myself…?). Each one is achievable on its own, whether all 40 are remains to be seen. Realistic will depend mainly on finances. And they are all time bounded, I have 4 years. Well, 4 years and 4 months. That’s loads of time!


Here’s the really important thing for you, reader – DO NOT JUDGE THE LIST. So you might have done all of those things by 27. Maybe making yourself watch a classic movie is a just an average weekend activity for you. Perhaps just watching a sunrise isn’t enough for you, you want to watch the sunrise over the Serengeti? That’s nice for you. What is a challenge for me may not be a challenge for you, and vice versa. I can already bake the best brownies, I can crochet, I’ve seen the Vatican, and I’ve walked over hot coals. You do yours, I’ll do mine.


Finally, you’ll notice that there are only 37 things on the list. I’ve left myself space to add things in at a later date as I am bound to come up with new ideas.

  1. Hot air balloon flight
  2. Learn to change a tyre
  3. Write something and send it to a publisher
  4. Go skinny dipping
  5. Have a trapeze lesson
  6. Sing in a karaoke bar
  7. Go on a zip wire
  8. See the Northern Lights
  9. Like myself
  10. Learn to juggle
  11. Busking
  12. Have a steel drum lesson
  13. Go star gazing
  14. Abseil down the Eagle Tower
  15. Find a mantra
  16. Have a make-up lesson
  17. Read a classic book that intimidates me
  18. Watch a sunrise
  19. Go on a road trip
  20. Do a new type of exercise class
  21. Go on a silent retreat
  22. Learn a challenging yoga pose (e.g. Pincha Mayuasana)
  23. Make a fancy cake
  24. Get a tattoo
  25. Get promoted
  26. Complete 30 Day Shred
  27. Do a MOOC
  28. Learn to play chess
  29. Learn a piece of origami by heart
  30. Learn to somersault or back flip
  31. Go to a lavender farm
  32. Buy 10 lottery tickets and give them away
  33. Invest in some stock
  34. Watch a classic film
  35. Do a 1000 piece puzzle
  36. Spend a day with just my mum
  37. Go to a restaurant with a cuisine I’ve never tried before
  38. ?
  39. ?
  40. ?


6 thoughts on “40 (SMART) things to do before 40

  1. That’s a lovely idea (and totally doable if I may say). However, I wonder if today’s goals will still be your goals in two or three years. Maybe achieving some of them might change others. Who knows. Please write a blogpost every now and then as I’d like to follow your endeavours.

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