Life Thinking

My 40-by-40 plan

The list of 40 things to achieve before I turn 40.

A while ago I was reading someone’s 30 by 30 plan, 30 things to accomplish before the author turns 30 years old. Since I always liked lists, it got me interested. Since I’ve just turned 32 a few days ago, that other ship has sailed a long time ago, but then I can set my even more ambitious list: 40 by 40.

It took a 2 or 3 brainstorming sessions, here are the results, not any particular order, just numbering it to keep track, and a bit of explanation here and there:

  1. Travelling to: Chile, Africa (somewhere), Southern Hymalayas, a desert, Hokkaido (because seeing new places always open new dimensions)
  2. Create a new programming language (programming so much, maybe can make something new, which would me to appreciate the other languages even more)
  3. Become professor (that’s the science career path and working this long for other professors, I wanna see how I can be in their place)
  4. Publish a book (reading so much, writing quite a bit, can I really write something others want to read?)
  5. Start a company (the independence and creativity it would give me is hard to overestimate)
  6. Travel to space (unlikely, but let’s just set the goals high)
  7. Learn to play a musical instrument, current candidates: piano, trombone, or guzhen (I’m listening to so much music, want to be able to create something myself)
  8. Have an art exhibition (creativity knows no bounds, and interactive art is awesome, would be great to collaborate too)
  9. Be in a film (I’m a terrible actor, but still want to see what work goes into all the movies I like to watch so much)
  10. Sail on the ocean (adventure time, real travel, real toughness)
  11. Go skydiving (that must be a feeling impossible to describe, have to see it myself)
  12. Send my parents travelling somewhere where they wanted to go (I was lucky to have travelled more than most of my family, let’s pay back some of that while possible)
  13. Set up a foundation for some good cause (I was thinking about this quite a bit, I wonder how can I help the most?)
  14. Learn to swim properly (being a frong is just not enough)
  15. Run a marathon (I guess I’m already doing this wrong, but want to see what does it feel like)
  16. Do a defensive driving course (haven’t driven for almost a decade, but the way people drive in Taiwan, this would be a very important skill to learn)
  17. Write to my  inspirational people (though first really have to figure out who are they, have some but need time to think)
  18. Learn to meditate properly (have tried it a few times with guidance and it is simply life-altering experience, too bad single times fade, I want to have the habit)
  19. Create a high traffic website (can’t read Hacker News day in and day out without having this ambition)
  20. Become fluent in Chinese and one other language: Japanese, Spanish, French, or something else (languages are awesome, love to communicate with people)
  21. Long distance bicycle trip to somewhere (many people do that around Taiwan, and used to cycle much more than these days, is a great way to get around)
  22. Learn to brew really good coffee (these days I do drink a lot of coffee, but very few places make it such that it stands out, I want to see what it takes)
  23. Learn the constellations and other important object on the sky, be able to navigate by night (used to do much more astronomy as a kid, have to rediscover the universe)
  24. Get to know a traditional profession deeper, like carpentry or pottery. (there’s an awful lot to geek out about those)
  25. Build a building, or renovate an old one (break the mystery of the places where I stay everyday)
  26. Grow a tree (tried many times, and they have failed very early)
  27. Learn to be a technical writer (that’s the influence of my advisers from Oxford)
  28. Bring traditional Taiwanese food cooking back to Hungary, and Hungarian back here to Taiwan (cooking is a lot of fun, and dinner parties with people are even more)
  29. Overcome helplessness about the issues I see around me everyday (stray animals, homeless people, poverty, all could be improved upon if I can face them)
  30. Give away at least half of my stuff (I have too many things, need to simplify)
  31. Get back in touch with my childhood, teenager and uni friends (I have burned so many bridges by inaction)
  32. Learn to mix cocktails well – and come up with a new one that people actually like (cocktails are playground, and even though I can’t drink, I was reading a lot about them)
  33. Attend the Nobel prize ceremony (preferably when someone I know won the prize)
  34. Do something concrete for science education (also inspired by my high school friend who’s doing an amazing job at that)
  35. Write up our family tree and as much of our history as possible (I love history, and very interested in my family)
  36. Have a patent of an actually useful invention (then give it away)
  37. Have a radio show (had some small stuff before, just feel like doing it)
  38. Figure out how to donate blood again (they wouldn’t let me here because of being grown up in Europe)
  39. Learn to fly helicopter (somehow much more tempting than aircraft)
  40. Overcome the fear of heights (that would be very useful)

While making this list, though, I was thinking: this is all good and nice, but I care much less about it than I thought in the beginning. These would be nice, but I actually have 1-by-40 plan: be happy.

Let’s see how does that go. :)

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