The 2016 Bucket List Review

A lot of people are all, “Screw you, 2016!” but for me it was a pretty excellent year. I traveled a lot, finally got the job I’ve been searching for, and even learned how to shoot a basketball. I already wrote about my failures so now it’s time to reflect on the successes.

Here’s the final tally:

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The Hardest Goal: Finding a New Job

A year ago, I made a firm decision to find a new job at the end of the school year. My work environment was a toxic waste zone. There were sleepless nights, food binges, and a cloud of stress that muddled into my precious me-time. That job (and that boss) had to go. Using my Passion Planner, I made a clear plan to not only find a new job, but also get through the rest of my contract without having another “Fred Meyer Incident.” Work was often miserable (though I was told that I did a great job of faking happiness) and the saddest part is that I got used to that misery – I almost thought it was my new normal. As always, it was a bit scary to take a new job where the description was so vague, but what’s that saying? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable? That’s my mantra.

Today, I have a job that’s super fun and challenging, with super smart(!) teammates, and the kind of freedom and autonomy that I flourish in. It was, by far, the most grueling goal of the year.

The Most Surprising Goal: Learn to Dribble and Shoot a Basketball

I seriously can’t believe that I learned how to accurately shoot a basketball! I know I’m kind of a jock, but no one had ever taught me. Holding a basketball felt foreign, like, “What is this strange object you have handed me?” After my first lesson with Thor, I still had massive doubts. Coming in at 5’0″ tall, shooting a basketball was near impossible! But I stuck with it, practiced regularly, and earlier this month I made 43 out of 50 consecutive free throws. I can make free throws with my eyes closed! Can I shoot from other areas of the court? Meh, not so much. Can I shoot while moving? Hell no. But I’m fascinated with my new skill, and this year I hope to keep practicing.

The Most Exciting Goal: Run an Oregon State Penitentiary 5k

Running laps in the prison yard with 100 inmates while the DJ was blasting 50 Cent was a pretty exciting moment of the year. On one hand, I had sensory overload – there were so many things to look at: prison tats, guard towers, barbed wire, and even a mini-golf course.  On the other hand, there were some chill moments, like sharing gatorade and bananas while chatting with the inmates post-race. Now that my knee is back in shape, I can’t wait to run with them again.

The Most Memorable Goal Moment: Go Paddleboarding in the Ocean

Thor and I had a mixed paddleboard experience in Hawaii over spring break, but later in the summer when I accompanied my students to Greece, I had another opportunity to play in the ocean, or really the sea. We were hot, dirty, and tired when our bus rolled into Tholo, but immediately hit the pristine beach across the street from our hotel. After playing in the water with the kids, I paid 8 euro to spontaneously rent a paddleboard and explore the Grecian waters. I paddled pretty far out, near the ancient sea cliffs, and thought, This is my life! 


All the other goals that I crossed off have good memories, as well, but these are the standouts of the year.

After five years of bucket list blogging, I’m starting to feel pretty seasoned about the whole thing. The process of drafting goals is not a random list that I create in an hour – it’s crafted the whole year beforehand. Once I make my goals official, I have to calendar them out, allocate resources, and set deadlines (obviously, I’m a natural project manager). They don’t all come to fruition, but they lend opportunities and experiences that probably wouldn’t have come my way otherwise.

I’m still pretty bummed that I didn’t learn to catch a fish with my bare hands (almost paid a guy $10 at a sushi restaurant to let me stick my hands in the koi pond, though), but overall it was a pretty stellar year.

I’ll be rolling out my 2017 list within a couple days, and you can bet there are some ringers involved.


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