30 Before 30,  Personal Stories

5 Months Left: Why I’m Not Stressed About My 30 Before 30 Goals

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Hey, y’all! Remember when I set my self 30 goals in the 30 months before my 30th birthday? It was a cool idea that has helped focus my attention as a blogger, traveler, and professional in the last 24 months. I did updates on both my 28th and 29th birthdays.

I’m here today as I have only 5 months left until my 30th birthday, and I want to give you an update. This is partly to help me be accountable, and partly to help motivate me. As you’ll see though, it’s not all roses in the land of V&V #30Before30 goals.

Goals I Accomplished

From my first year:

1. Get an article published in an outside publication, online. I was published in Lonely Planet on December 3, 2014. [Business]

2. Purchase a new digital camera. I bought a new digital camera on December 8, 2014. I sold that same camera earlier this year before we started traveling full time. [Business]

3. Have someone outside of my family pay for one of my canvas prints. I shipped my first canvas print on January 22, 2015. Thanks again, Wendy! [Business]

4. Cross 5,000 Twitter Followers. I crossed 5k followers on March 9, 2015, and haven’t looked back. We’re now 6,700 strong and counting! If you have Twitter, join me there[Business]

From my second year:

5. Buy a really, really nice set of sheets. Mr. Valise still owes me a nice set of sheets, but to be fair, we’ve been traveling most of this year. He’ll be making an investment in the new year, I’m pretty sure! [Personal]

From the last six months:

6. Get an article published in an outside publication, in print. I haven’t yet seen a copy, but I was a contributor for the July/August issue of Northwest Travel & Life. I contributed to their Alaska department with a small story about Denali. [Business]

7. Swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Finally! After a trip to Barcelona in 2013 when the water was too cold, I jumped into the Mediterranean in August of this year, on my Greek sailing trip with A Dot in the Blue. [Travel]

8. Spend at least one month living abroad in the same place. I spent an entire month living with Mr. Valise in Dubrovnik, Croatia, earlier this year. We talk about it all the time – it was a wonderful living-abroad experience! [Travel]

9. Have 500+ email subscribers. As of my third blogiversary last month, I now have over 600 subscribers. Thanks, everyone! [Business]

Goals I Expect to Accomplish

1. Run my personal Seattle 10K route.will be back in Seattle this winter, and should have enough time to train and improve my running to do this route before the end of April (when my birthday is). [Personal]

2. Plan & execute the ultimate destination 30th birthday party. The original plan I had has been scrapped after doing more research into the timing and costs. Instead, I’m hoping to head down to the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles for my birthday. You’re welcome to join me! (Email me and let me know if you’re interested in doing so.) [Personal]

3. Pay off all my credit card debt and pay down the rest of my car. I paid down and sold that damn car. I have just one credit card remaining, and I’ve been chipping away at it. With focus, this is a very accomplishable goal. [Personal]

4. Begin a long-term brand partnership (>1 year). I am excited to announce that beginning in 2017, I will be working with Fit Life Creation as an ambassador and influencer. Starting in February, I will travel to Cuba for the Influence2Inspire influencer retreat. I’ll then be working with Katrina on academies, programs, retreats, fundraisers, and providing you all with tools and tips to help you create a life and business you love.

I expect this to be a long, healthy business relationship that helps inspire all of you to help create the life and career you’re looking for. I’m excited to focus on my own business, and share the results with you leading up to – and after – the Cuba retreat. If you want to learn more about the retreat, I’ve got a special discount code. Click here to  jump to the bottom and grab the code. [Business]

Goals I Won’t Accomplish

If you’ve been counting, I predict I’ll only accomplish 13 of my 30 goals between now and my birthday. Here are the 17 goals I don’t expect to accomplish:

Travel Goals:

  1. Finish the ‘Around the World’ calendar: Cairo, Moscow, Athens, Sydney, Tokyo, New York
  2. See Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog’s Day
  3. Take a Caribbean Cruise
  4. Scale a wall of the Grand Canyon
  5. Hike Symphony Lakes Trail (Alaska)
  6. Bike to Eklutna Glacier (Alaska)
  7. Go swimming with dolphins
  8. Visit Africa

Business Goals:

  1. Have my photography displayed in a gallery
  2. Run a print ad in a magazine for the site
  3. Purchase a new computer for work/travel

Personal Goals:

  1. Re-run my personal London 10k route
  2. Begin writing a book of short stories, memoirs, etc.
  3. Become a dual-citizen with Croatia
  4. Become intermediate to proficiently fluent in a foreign language
  5. Sell one of my canvas paintings
  6. Invest >$1000 in a new professional & travel wardrobe

Why ‘Failing’ My Goals Doesn’t Stress Me Out

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
– Bill Gates

24 months ago – two years! – I set myself 30 goals that I hoped to accomplish before turning 30 years old. At the time, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as we all are in retrospect. These goals were going to happen, friends! Honestly, they were!

Unfortunately, life happens. Not achieving everything we set out is a common theme in life, despite our best intentions. While I consider myself a darn good goal-accomplisher, even I can’t do it all.

It’s disappointing that with five months left, I predict I will still accomplish less than half of my goals, but in evaluating my success and failure so far, I’m okay with that. Here are some of the reasons why:

I only gave myself 29 months instead of 30.

When counting today, I realized that I actually shorted myself one month in my 30 before 30 goal plan. I don’t believe for a second that an additional month would have magically helped me accomplish more of these goals… but I gotta be honest that I’m a bad counter, and cut myself some slack.

I was unrealistic about my resources.

As the above quotes by Bill Gates suggests, most people make the same error I did. I grossly overestimated my ability to accomplish these goals in a short frame of time – precisely because I grossly underestimated my resources.

At the time I wrote the first 30 Before 30 post, I must have been feeling a bit flush. I had lost my job in July of 2014, and was only starting to establish myself as a freelance writer and marketer. In reality, a rough estimation gives my 30 goals costing me approximately $20,000!

You don’t know my finances as well as I do, but I do NOT have an extra $700 laying around each month, just waiting to be spent on these goals. I have student loans, and rent, and my phone bill, and groceries I need to buy, and other travel plans.

Speaking of…

I had an unreasonable assessment of my future.

Hindsight is always 20-20, right? Back in 2014, I had no idea where life would lead me. I didn’t know that my at-the-time new relationship with Mr. Valise would develop into a possibly-lifelong partnership. I didn’t know I would take another job – and then lose that job just 8 months later. I didn’t know I’d go back to freelancing, that Mr. Valise would start working remotely, or we’d travel for seven months of this year.

Without knowing these things in advance, I might well have been able to make all of my 30 Before 30 goals happen. But I didn’t know them. Life happens. It’s better not knowing how it will go.

My priorities and maturity have changed significantly.

Funny enough, I accomplished the most goals in the “Business” category of goals I set out. I would never have guessed that to be the case, when I set each category two years ago. Since then, as I said, life has been dramatic and wonderful and significantly more involved than I could have imagined.

I’m now less than six months away from turning 30 – I consider this a significant step into a new decade of my life. My maturity – despite what Mr. Valise jokingly says – has grown considerably in the last two years. As have my priorities. That’s okay.

So sure, I haven’t accomplished all my goals in the past two years – and I won’t accomplish them in the next five months. It’s exciting to look back on them anyway, and to plan for new goals for my next life stage. Maybe 40 Big Hairy Scary Goals Before 40, like finally paying off my student loans? We’ll see…

Do you have life goals you’re working on? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Help others discover this post too!

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.


  • MrWriteMedia

    Setting specific goals is so huge. Good for you! I like the way you break yup your posts with different highlights, fonts and bolding. That’s something I teach my clients.

    • Valerie

      Thanks so much! I’m trying to keep it interesting, ya know!

      I’ll definitely talk more about “SMART” specific goals in my end post in five months – that’s the biggest area I failed in. I was certainly specific in *some* areas, but not in others.

  • Elizabeth

    Sounds like you have been very busy these past couple of years. It’s so exciting to cross things off a list and i’m sure you will reach all of your goals.

    xo, Elizabeth | txelizabeth.com

  • Vincent Carabeo

    Damn! I need to try this. I hope you aren’t stressing too much. You’re at least one step ahead of those who don’t take the time to make goals or even try to accomplish them. So props to you!

  • Sami Sattva

    What he said! ?? fantastic list. Congrats on accomplishing some of your goals and attaining a brand ambassador ship — keep looking up.


  • Raquel

    Wow, this is one of my favorite articles in the world! I am so happy that you aren’t beating yourself up at all about not finishing your list of goals. But I am so proud of you! You’ve accomplished so much!

  • LC

    I’m glad you’re not too fazed about hitting your 30/30 goal – you should be applauded for what you’ve achieved in the last 2 years, particularly as you said, in the business side of things. I’ve always thought of goal setting to be a fluid thing – circumstances in one’s life are constantly changing and you’ll have more success flowing with these changes, than fighting against them. Hope you get to cross a couple more off your list in the next half year or so.

  • tiana bryant

    Honestly I will be turning 30 in August but I don’t have a list like this. Adds too much pressure. I am glad you have accomplished so much. Don’t worry about getting it all done