43 Things

Posted on Aug 25, 2011 in Life, the Universe, and Everything | 0 comments

There’s a website called 43 Things, and I’ve always been sort of infatuated with the notion of it. Highlights from their FAQs:

“People have known for years that making a list of goals is the best way to achieve them. But most of us never get around to making a list. 43 Things is great for that! Make a list on 43 Things and see what changes happen in your life. Best of all it’s a way of connecting with other enthusiasts interested in everything from “watching a space shuttle launch” to “grow my own vegetables”. So the next time someone asks you, “what do you do?” you can answer with confidence, “I am doing 43 things!”[…] We think 43 is the right number of things for a busy person to try to do. Why not more? It’s too much. Why not less? You can do less, but it is still called 43 Things […] Other people often have great ideas. You can get inspiration from others. Adopt a goal as your own or set up your own goals from scratch. Either way, 43 Things can help you document your success, share information, and make progress on what matters to you most.”

I like goal setting. I am a lover of to do lists and I have always had very specific aspirations (mostly to do with being a professional musician and/or being a doctor, only the latter it appears I’ll actually achieve. I’m perfectly fine with that). Most of all I love trying the things that mean a lot to other people and letting those things shape my own life (like vegetarianism?).

I have been a member of 43 Things since December 2006, and in that time every time I’ve logged on (roughly once a year) I’ve been surprised that I got to check something off my list. Even if I forget my specific list of goals, it appears I’m still subconsciously in pursuit of them.

My list isn’t 43 things long, but when I logged in today, this is what I had on my list:

1. Become a doctor – very much in progress
2. Match into an emergency medicine residency – so far looking likely.
3. Be a first name author on a scientific article in a high impact journal – recently got a first author in European Journal of Applied Physiology, not quite high impact but still really exciting. This one stays on the list, though.
4. Run a 5k in 21 Minutes – not currently in the works, but still one day.
5. Do 40 push-ups in two minutes – I’m around 10 right now, a few more months of yoga perhaps?
6. Own an Architecturally Fascinating Beach House with a view of the Ocean – like the houses along Hampton Beach in NH. My favorite one has a giant tower on top of it with a conservatory-type room. Mine would also have model trains running through the walls. Financially this will probably never be viable (unless I build a house near a crappy beach?).
7. Go on a cruise – preferably down the Danube. I would settle for the Carribean if I had to. Mostly this is an act of rebellion, since my parents are firm believers that cruises are boring and there are more interesting ways to be a tourist. I’m inclined to agree.
8. Own a pet pig – pigs are as, if not more, intelligent than dogs, they don’t shed, they don’t bark, and they eat anything! Also, I really want to see my conservative neighbors’ faces when they see me walking a pig. Too irresponsible for pet ownership right now, plus I work 12 hour shifts from time to time and I’m not a fan of animal neglect.
9. Bungee jump – stands strong on the list. The real question is why haven’t I done it yet?
10. Write a novel – still waiting for the story to come to me.
11. Learn to play the fiddle – important to distinguish from being a violinist, I’d like to be a fiddler. My dad plays the concertina in Irish music sessions. In my experienced opinion, it’s a horrible instrument. The fiddle is less terrible-sounding (depending on the player), and looks similarly fun.
12. Go on a road trip with no predetermined destination – Still need to find the time and a group of people willing to go. But then again, who says it has to be a long trip? In my ideal world I would do an annual destination-free road trip.
13. Own a car that doesn’t use gasoline – petroleum fuels are the root of all evil? And also I just think it’s cool. I’ve always had a fondness for Porsches. Without the hideous orange stripe, of course. Also, I thought it would be a good idea to put a wind turbine on top of the car to recharge it. My sister’s boyfriend says this is a stupid idea (something about physics).
14. Live in a house that operates “off the grid” – Just because it would be cool. And environmentally friendly, I suppose.
15. Turn someone’s life around – this is hard to define. I think I’ve influenced people for the better, but I don’t have a clear cut example of having a personal hand in changing someone’s life entirely. Nor do I think that one person alone can actually turn a person’s life around, it takes a support network. I think what I’ve already done, and continue to do, is enough anyway. Yet I can’t bring myself to take it off the list.
16. Hike the Appalachian Trail – waiting until the moment and the motivation is right, but I plan to do it Bill Bryson style.
17. Fly first class – this is just plain ridiculous, but it still stands.
18. Donate bone marrow – I can’t donate blood, but I can donate marrow. I’m in the registry, but the probably of actually matching someone is pretty low.
19. Learn to play the guitar – recently bought my first guitar. Not much progress beyond that.
20. Learn to fly a plane – waiting for a higher income before this is practical.
21. Perfect my Chinese – by perfect I mean get to the level where my German is – complete comfort conversing. There’s little hope of me ever blending in anyway.
22. Do a pull-up – I know it probably seems silly that I can’t do this, but I really want to. For the first time in my life I’m actually getting really close, though.

Things I’ve Done: 

  1. Weigh 135 pounds – got there in February of 2011 from 155 pounds. Also it was by accident and largely related to the stress of medical school. Not really an achievement to be proud of.
  2. Finish college with a GPA of 3.75 or better
  3. Learn to play the Cello – studied the instrument for a year 2009-2010, still not good at it but semi-proficient and satisfied with that.
  4. Volunteer time in a third world country – I would prefer that I had written “developing country” when I set this goal, but regardless I taught English in rural China for three months and it was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life.
  5. Get my hearing fixed – I grew up deaf in one ear. I had an implant in August 2008 to try and restore some of my hearing. It was a moderate success and also fairly life-changing.
  6. Learn Chinese – studied it for three years in college. I was able to get by traveling in China after the first year of study, but haven’t been back since and have forgotten a lot of it.
  7. Get an undergrad degree
  8. Have a surprise party thrown for me – 20th birthday party, thanks friends!
  9. Eat Sushi – hard to believe this was ever a life goal as now it is a regular occurrence.
  10. Visit California
  11. Get my EMT certification – hard to believe that was 6 years ago!
  12. Skydive – Autumn 2006, and dying to do it again.
  13. Learn to swim – I learned to swim at the age of 19. No joke! It’s actually one of my prouder achievements, mostly because I was terrified of putting my face in the water. I worked incredibly hard to overcome it (8am at the pool with two of my friends five days a week practicing) and it was all completely worth it.

I just think this is a great snapshot of the things that mean a lot to me, have meant a lot to me in the past, and also of how little my big-picture goals have changed despite the fact that I’ve changed astronomically as a person.

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