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30×30: 30 things I’m proud I did before I turned 30

I like lists. I find them motivating and easy to understand. It’s a structure to limit and highlight, whether they be daily to-do lists or curated honors or resolutions — both personal and professional. I also like somewhat arbitrary milestones to serve as an opportunity to review my progress to the goals I have. It’s the same reason why I celebrated my 10,000th day alive.

Here’s another. I turn 30 this week and have used that as a reason to feel good about what I’ve done so far.

Years ago, a friend of mine who produced an early web show I was a part of a decade ago (hi Ryan Noggle!) pitched the idea of an online travel show called 30×30, which was meant to highlight 30 big, visual experiences Americans ought to accomplish before hitting that age. It was inspired somewhat by the ‘life to do list’ I’ve maintained since I an early teen. While that 30×30 list we created together was helpful, many of the those experiences were more focused on being visual. It also was relatively generic.

So last year after I turned 29, I appraised what I had done and what I wanted to do before I turned 30. So while I try to keep most of my personal goals off this site, now that I’m about to turn 30, I wanted to bring together some of the larger accomplishments, both personal and professional, that I’m most proud of. In large part, it’s an assessment on how me at 20 years would view me now at 30 years.

So here are 30 things I’m proud I did before I turned 30.

  1. Completed (movement on) my original Life To Do List — When I was 13, I made a list of 26 items I wanted to do with my life. Before I turned 30, I made movement on them all.
  2. Build a real business — Though it’s still very small, crossing $1 million in  2015 revenue and delivering impact, I’ve never been prouder of Technically Media, with employees and profit and impact, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. (thanks team, including cofounder BJK, who took the above photo)
  3. Pay off my student loans — No student debt!
  4. Buy a house — I bought one on my own and then one with SACM. Properly investing in a neighborhood thrills me.
  5. Consistently Volunteer  — I’ve joined a pair of nonprofit boards, including the Workshop School and Coded by Kids.
  6. Be more generous — I’ve made it an annual ritual to donate to nonprofits I love. I’ve opened up my wallet more when other people are involved too. Yeah, I’ve bought a few rounds in my day. But I’ve also tried to be open with my time.
  7. Make my community better — Whatever that community is, I try to ask myself: how is this helping the community I’m a part of? From my neighborhood, my city, my industry, my business, and the like, I want to do better by those around me. I believe that I am a net positive in the places I take part.
  8. Go car-less — I always wanted to live without dependency on one. For the last two years I’ve done that.
  9. Be a mentor — I like to see myself as a fledgling mentor to a pair of younger people, whom I greatly respect, a role I cherish mightily. People have helped me a great deal and I hope to do the same.
  10. Travel abroad annually — I’ve made a commitment to go abroad at least once a year every year I can afford it, which has been each year since 2010.
  11. Take annual road trips — I’ve taken one road trip a year with a friend (hi Michael Butler!) for the last 10 years. These are some of my favorite memories.
  12. Do acts of journalism — In college I became enraptured by journalism culture and am proud to have done some real work and built a company to contribute to the craft. I was proud of my early open data coverage in particular.
  13. Write a novel — This past November I completed #NaNoWriMo.
  14. Get published for creative fiction — I’ve earned a few modest inclusions.
  15. Visit as many continents as possible — I still need to visit Australia and Antarctica, but I’ve otherwise gotten to develop some understanding of other places.
  16. Go on a European backpacking trip — I did the thing in 2008 for nearly two months with my closest college buddy. We made it a podcast, of course. (thanks Sean Blanda!)
  17. Get married– Not originally planned as an early goal but it happened and it’s challenging and rewarding like few things are (thanks SACM!).
  18. Be financially stable — I was always infatuated with being independent in this way, even as a teenager. With a personal budget, retirement savings and comfort with other basics, I’ve been truly, deeply on my own since college.
  19. Speak publicly regularly — I’ve always loved contributing to public discourse.
  20. Manage a real budget — Thanks to work, I’ve learned plenty.
  21. Develop sales experience — I’ve handled major negotiations.
  22. Be on a 30 under 30 list — Hey thanks Daily News!
  23. Be a regular at a bar — The Pen and Pencil Club knows me by name.
  24. Go Bull Running — Done! One of the most thrilling moments of my life.
  25. Perform Stand Up Comedy — Done! One of the forms of public speaking that still gets me nervous.
  26. Hitchhike — Done! Some of my favorite stories come from those earlier experiences.
  27. Be a storyteller — I’ve kept Story Shuffle active for five years.
  28. Become an adult — From buying better clothes, to cooking new meals monthly, to swearing less, to understanding the complicated world, to simply trying to be more dependable, I’m proud of how much effort I’ve put in to trying to be an adult. It sounds so inevitable but I’ve tried to make a conscious effort.
  29. Appreciate the good stuff — I’m thankful of lots of things, but I’ve also made it a specific goal to better understand things like whiskey, coffee and craft beer. I am privileged. Thank you life.
  30. Get better — I aggressively aim to become a better person each year. I use annual resolutions to pursue experience and am not satisfied. I use jealousy as a tool to seek out how I want to improve. By writing and posting and sharing, I put a lot of pressure on myself to stay motivated. So now that I’m 30, I’m far from done.

I’m not satisfied. But I’ve been making it a point to reflect and take moments to celebrate. I am proud. But there’s more to do.

Here’s to my next 30 years.

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