Five things I want to do before I’m 35 (revisited)

Back in 2009 I wrote a post about career and personal goals, and what I wanted to achieve before I was 35. I made a list of 5 things. They were:

  • See polar bears in the natural habitat
  • Knit myself a jumper that I’ll actually wear
  • Read Herodotus’ The Histories (which has sat unopened on the shelf since 1998)
  • Organise my photos
  • Write another book (which may or may not be about project management)

I turned 35 last week, so this is the moment to see whether or not I achieved those goals.

I have written another book, which was project management-related.

I have organised my photos.

I have not even taken Herodotus off the shelf and I certainly haven’t knitted anything. In fact, I have given up knitting and moved to crochet instead. I am a lot better at it now than I was when I made my first ever scarf, but I haven’t committed to a project as big as a jumper.

I’m not sorry that I’m not wearing handmade clothes or lugging around a 700-page doorstop of a book. I am a teeny bit sorry that I haven’t made it to see those polar bears but I have been to some other lovely places.

I haven’t updated my list, even though I have knocked some items off it. At the time I wrote:

It’s not a project plan, it’s not even a project. It’s life, and that’s far more interesting than any fixed list of tasks.

I still believe that is true, and that’s why I don’t feel the need right now to add more items on. I feel that I’m meeting my personal goals, and I’m certainly meeting my professional goals.

There is still more to life than checking off tasks on a list and as I’m now on the journey to 36 and beyond I’ll just see what else comes my way.


  1. Congratulations on achieving the milestone, Elizabeth!  One of the things I’ve found is that what you achieve in life isn’t as important as how the pursuit of those achievements changes you.  What did you learn in writing that book, and how has it changed you?  How did you feel about looking at all those old photos – happy, wistful, maybe even a bit shocked – and did the act of organizing them change the way you remember the events?

    1. Dave, those are wise words! I learned a lot about the publishing process, and also a lot about how determined I can be to do something if I really set my mind to it. I think that I learned more from writing my second book: namely, that I have a wonderful support network. They had always been there, but when I really needed them during the difficult last weeks of finishing the manuscript, they turned up without me even asking.

      As for the photos, I remembered events that I had forgotten. And I realised that back in the day I was a bit skinnier than I am now…

  2. Happy belated birthday, Elizabeth! 
    And very nice scarf. I can definitely see him wearing it while ice-skating. 

    1. Ice skating? That’s a very ambitious bear. Maybe I should add ice skating to my list of things I want to have a go at.

  3. Happy belated birthday!!  I’m fairly new around here, so it is interesting seeing your “before 35” list and read back to see you had a “before 30” list too.  Love the polar bear idea – My dad was in the Navy so we actually lived on Adak Alaska – but it was an island way out in the Aleutian chain – so no polar bears.

    1. Thank you! It sounds like you must have had an interesting time growing up in Alaska. I much prefer cold places for holidays – Alaska would be a fabulous place to visit so I think I might have to add that to my list of holiday destinations.

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