Why I Won’t Say “No”

Right now, I’m doing that thing that everyone is doing this time of year: microanalysis of all the things I did wrong in 2016 and thinking about how to get myself right. Eating better, exercising more, saving money…how many of you packed a healthy lunch from home today? Hmmmmm??? Yeah, I thought so.

When it comes to my bucket list, I have a firm rule that doing less of something has no place on my goal list. I’ve been googling “Bucket Lists” for final inspiration and so many of them say, “No sugar for 30 days,” or “Only cash for 30 days” or “No phone for a day” and on and on. Sure, I get it; these are definitely habits that can improve one’s quality of life. Frankly, I’m on that no sugar kick right now (although going without my phone sounds like torture) – no judgment on cutting out cupcakes.

However, for me a bucket list is about doing more, not less. (Even years back when this blog was about couponing, my goal was to indulge more on less money).

The idea behind my goals is that it pushes me to try, learn, or see something new; to challenge myself to something fun or nearly impossible. To say, “This year, I’m going to deprive myself of a lot of things and it’s going to be awesome” sounds ridiculous -right? You can’t break a habit without replacing it with something more worthwhile – it just doesn’t work.

Don’t believe me? Read this book.


I’m not trying to bag on anyone’s healthy lifestyle goals, I’m just saying that it’s likely that you’ll be miserable on day six because you haven’t had a cheeseburger or you’re sore from your new spin class or you already screwed up and bought pair of designer shoes. HOWEVER, you can deflect that misery if you also create for a goal that coincides with something you’re truly looking forward to.

I feel like we say no to things all day (at least I do). It’s reallyREALLY hard to have willpower when you’re constantly thinking about the things you can’t have or can’t do. Where is the fun in that? I don’t know about you, but I’m not here to say I didn’t do things in life; I’m here to do all the things.

Well, maybe not everything. I have no interest in learning the bagpipes. You get what I mean.

Today I spent some time looking at my goals from years past, and I can see a real evolution – they are getting bigger, more wordly, more weird (ok, they’ve always been weird).

So if you’re reading, I suggest that while you go easy on the chocolate, you also think about what you can do to enrich your life. It might make those heroin-like sugar withdrawal symptoms less painful.

(Also, if you’re kicking the sugar, I found this graphic that you can try. From experience, it won’t help you at all. You will still feel like you want to crawl in a hole and die at the end of the week. Stick with it – you’ll feel stronger in the end).


Tomorrow – I’ll publish my 2017 list. Probably.

The failures of 2016

Do you know that I have now been bucket list blogging for five full years? And as of today, I have checked off 84 goals (and I’ll add a couple more by the end of the year). But before I take my standing ovation, I’m going to talk about this year’s failures.

Every January, when I publish my list, a lot of thinking goes into each item. Is it realistically doable? Is it going to be fun enough? Do I have enough time? And while there is a certain level of expected failure, this year had more than usual.

For instance, I never got a swim coach and obviously didn’t meet my swim goal of 1-mile in under 30 minutes. Last year, as my knee was continuing to bug me, I had grandiose plans of becoming a swimmer. When I’m on the spin bike at Nike, I’m overlooking their olympic-size pool, watching the swimmers…but the idea of changing into a suit combined being all wet and cold afterwards was too complicated for me. I love running because you only need a pair of shoes and some headphones – it’s easy, and there are few excuses.

So ok, swimming is OUT.

Let’s talk about fishing. Ooooohhhhhhh lost dreams. I knew that catching a fish with my bare hands was ridiculous, and I’ve not given up on this one, but with ice fishing I’ve had trouble identifying a lake frozen enough in the Pacific Northwest. We are a warm, mild climate and despite our recent snow storms, even the lakes on Mt Hood are not frozen like the ones I see on Youtube in Minnesota. We don’t ice skate or play hockey on our lakes over here. So it’s not to say ice fishing won’t happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.

How about my Friday the 13th tattoo? Did you know that in Portland, where tattoo shops line every corner, you can walk into a shop on any Friday the 13th and get a tattoo for something like $30. This year, I was super excited to get a spontaneously cheap tattoo but it happened to fall on the same day that I returned from a week-long Outdoor School with 30 middle school students. REGARDLESS, I jumped in the shower the minute I got home and started calling shops…but by lunch time their slots for the whole day were already filled up.

Also, after two years, I’ve given up on the piano. I just don’t have the time. Nor do I particularly feel the pull to spend a night on Sauvie’s Island. If someone wants to rent a yurt with me next year, let me know.

As for the “grow a mini-garden”, it sounded all well and good in January when I was expected a summer of leisure, tending to my tomatoes. Then I ended up teaching two classes at the university and couldn’t even remember to water my potted plants. NEXT!

Failure is inevitably part of any goal. If it’s not challenging, or doesn’t have risk of failure, it’s not a good enough goal. I can accept that this year almost 30% of my goals didn’t get crossed off, either because of circumstances or just sheer laziness, but the good news is that there is the other 60% of cool things I did do. Hel-lo, I ran in Barcelona! I took a ferry to a Hawaiian island! I paddle boarded in the Mediterranean! I ran a race with inmates at the state prison! It was a wild year.

These failures are important to reflect on as I’m finalizing my 2017 list…I ask myself, Is it fun enough? Do I have enough time? Is it realistic? And the cycle repeats itself.

So tell me – what else should I try to do? What are your goals?