I have a certain facial expression that I use when I say “I’m turning 40”. It’s something between ‘yikes’ and ‘let’s do this’. To mark the occasion, I plan to write a bucket list of 40 things for my 40th year. However, this isn’t just your average bucket list filled with skydives, spa weekends and seeing the Northern Lights.
It’s more of a f**k-it list. After 39 years of trial and error, I know what makes me happy and I’ve long since abandoned any need to try and impress others. So, my bucket will be filled with experiences and activities that bring me joy.
The aim is to make 2023 my happiest yet. Yes, there’ll be some cool ideas like finding an octopus and spending a night on a mountain top… in winter, but there will also be simple things that make me profoundly cheerful, too.
Turning 40 feels like a bit of a landmark
Things like growing tomatoes, listening to the dawn chorus and running down a hill really fast. I plan to be outdoors as much as possible and to make my 40th year one filled with adventure, enjoyment and a lot of laughter.
Turning 40 feels like a bit of a landmark. My growing collection of wrinkles is accompanied by a greater sense of confidence and I feel calmer and more self-assured. All of this may come in handy as I tick off certain list items, like skinny-dipping in a wild place and scaring myself on a bike trail.
Despite not achieving everything I’d once planned to by this age – I’m not a politician, for example (a very misguided early career aim) and I’m still a terrible cook – it’s clear to me now that these things simply don’t matter.
I’ve tried to find a balance between the simple and the ambitious
My aim is to be content. And, I have a better awareness of what will make me feel that way, plus a greater determination to actually get out there and chase it. So, turning 40 seems like the ideal time to have a little self-celebration and embrace the coming year with joyous exuberance.
It’s certainly very tempting to run away and spend the 365 days just ticking off my dreams – but sadly that isn’t realistic. Given the attendant responsibilities of being 40, my list needs to be achievable and easy to fit around daily life. There go any thoughts of having my own Vegas stage show – the sequins and feather crowns will just have to wait.
Reflecting on what activities should feature and what I actually want to do with my time, I’ve tried to find a balance between the simple and the ambitious. On my current list, ideas like learning to skim a stone slot in alongside big-ticket plans, such as joining an overnight kayaking expedition.
I’ve incorporated activities that blend the familiar with the new
There are things that others may scoff at or think are really boring, like walking barefoot in the mud. But not me. I may not always be the envy of my friends or have picture-perfect Instagram posts, but who cares as these are things that I want to do.
Being a simple creature, my happiness formula is straightforward. I love experiences that I’ll remember forever with people I cherish. This has been my list’s guiding principle: it may be an adrenaline-fuelled cliff jump into the sea with friends or doing a forward roll in the snow with the kids.
Spending time with loved ones is always a joy but so is meeting new people to have a laugh with. As such, I’ve incorporated activities that blend the familiar with the new; chances to spend time nurturing close friendships but also give the option to make new ones. Because you’re never too old for that.
I love a dare and always have done
Likewise, I’ve carved out some solo time to enjoy this coming year, given that, at 40, I’ve learnt to be perfectly happy in my own company. As I plan to watch the sun rise in the east and set in the west, I’ll be equally delighted whether I’m on my own or joined by friends old and new.
Then there’s the challenge factor to my f**k-it list. I love a dare and always have done. There’s no shame in that. However, in my younger years it did find me in some less-than-ideal situations, like the time I decided to run a marathon in a sweaty penguin costume.
A sense of adventure doesn’t need to gather dust on the shelf
Writing this list has been a great exercise in plotting my own personal challenges. It features a few activities that may well test my nerves and challenge my boundaries but that I genuinely want to achieve. Despite my fear, I’m sure I will love climbing so high my knees wobble (because I’m scared of heights) and swimming in the chilly river on Christmas Day – in a bikini.
Post-pandemic, there have certainly been moments of collective doom and gloom. Which is why I feel that now more than ever we need to prioritise happiness and fun. A sense of adventure doesn’t need to gather dust on the shelf.
And, some goals, like walking the coastal path of Britain and watching a starling murmuration, don’t cost a dime and will allow me to save up for the larger items.
I’ll enthusiastically be ticking off each and every entry
So, my 40th birthday f**k-it list is just about complete and, from 1 January 2023, I’ll enthusiastically be ticking off each and every entry.
One thing I’ve learnt over the past few years is that you never know what’s around the corner. Opportunities can often present themselves when you’re least expecting them and I want to make sure that such occasions are allowed for. There’s no better way, therefore, to finish off my 40th birthday f**k-it list than with entry Number 40: say yes to anything that sounds cool.
Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveler like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.
Images: Courtesy of Georgie Duckworth