28 Things to Do Before I’m 28

Despite my long-standing tradition of birthday goals, this year I hesitated to make a “28 Before 28” list. I’m in the process of trying to simplify my life. I’m slashing my ‘to-do’ lists and ‘to-be’ lists. But the good ol’ birthday goals seemed to make the cut, so long as I frame them with a generous spirit!

*Final updates in italics! 

  1. Memorize Austin’s phone number

We’ve been together for four years. Maybe it is time?

*Punted to next year’s goals.

  1. Take vitamins (D and Calcium)

I’ve had a vitamin D deficiency for as long as I’ve known. Only recently have I read about some of the health consequences. This is my attempt to kick some drowsiness out of my life.

*I went to the doctor, got some prescribed vitamins, and then forgot about them until this very moment.

  1. Letter writing

This goal carries over through the years. I’m not giving up on it.

*A solid nope, but it is being reincorporated into next year’s goals.

  1. Have 415 ‘read’ books on my Goodreads shelf.

It is always a mad dash to hit my 25 read books a year goal. I’m slashing it to 15, and adding some big books to my goodreads list.

*Made it to 423!

  1. Read Infinite Jest

Why? Because it is everyone’s favorite book they can’t recommend.

*Punted to next year’s goals.

  1. Read Les Miserables

Last year, I read War and Peace. I feel like this is the logical next step.


  1. Read Don Quixote

Can you tell this is the year of big books?

*I read this one with a great book group! One of the best parts of my year. 

  1. Take 3 NYC trips

I’m crushing hard on NYC right now. It is a 4-hour train-ride away!

*I’d say yes! Two glorious trips and one layover. This city gets under my skin and into my blood.

  1. Bike to Walden Pond

I’m upgrading to a real bike soon. The logical step is to ride to my favorite place outside of Boston.

*This was a little too ambitious. But fun fact, Thoreau and I share a birthday. My 28th birthday marked his 200th.  Austin and I drove to Walden in a rainstorm, sat in the parking lot, and ate cheesecake in rental car. How’s that for adventure?

  1. See Hamilton

Somehow, someway.

*I’m oozing with excitement just remembering the day. Austin and I got a great deal on tickets for our anniversary. This experience was one of the most euphoric I’ve had in my life to date.

  1. Re-Read my childhood journals

I’ve kept a pretty regular journal throughout my life. I’d like to comb the pages and look for emerging thinking patterns.

*I didn’t do this, and I don’t feel inclined to pick it up again right now.

  1. Finish draft 1 of my Honey Year memoir

I’ve written 85,000 words, which is about 2/3 of a first draft. Power to the end!

*I made some progress on my memoir with a Memoir Generator course I took through GrubStreet, a writing center in Boston. I’m realizing a full first draft I can feel proud of will take years. But I’m up for the challenge.

  1. Put out clothes the night before

Mornings are the worst. THE worst. Putting clothes out the night before could cut out some stress and decision making from my morning routine.

*Still a good idea! Punting this goal to next year.

  1. Go leaf peeping

It’s almost time for a fall retreat with brilliant leaves. Autumn is the best time to be in New England.

*Done. Glorious, as always.

  1. Research MFA programs

I’ve waffled, but I think I’m 90% committed to pursuing an MFA. I want to research programs and take the GRE before my next birthday.

*I’ve picked the programs I am most interested in. Fortunately, not one of them requires the GRE! 

  1. Spend a day on a literary tour of Greater Boston

Besides the obvious transcendentalists, a few epic writers have houses in the area: Edith Wharton, E.E. Cummings, William Longfellow, etc.).

*Austin and I spent a lovely weekend with some friends from Nashville exploring Concord (Emerson and Thoreau’s places) plus New Bedford (Herman Melville’s inspiration). I’m counting it.

  1. Collect poems

I used to memorize poems. I’d like to collect the ones I have memorized into a notebook to brush up from time to time.

*I didn’t do any collecting, but I did perform The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock at Exponent II.

  1. Surround myself with more fresh flowers

Part 1: Get over my omnipresent buyer’s remorse. Part 2: Make the apartment pretty.

*I think I’ve gotten better on Part 1. We have had a few more flowers about the house now that the weather is better. A friend at work also got me an Echeveria plant for my work desk. Below are few lovely bunches from the year!

  1. Get a fancy alarm clock

Remember how mornings are the worst? I’ll try anything. Right now, I’m leaning towards this one.

*Still an interest of mine, but no.

  1. Revive yoga habits 

Once upon a time, I could touch my toes. I’d like to get there again.

*I think I did yoga exactly zero times since making this goal.

  1. Hit the 30 countries mark

I don’t like counting countries. I don’t think the three hours I spent in a tourist market in Laos can be compared to the six months I spend in India. All the same, I’ve been to 29 countries. I’m looking forward to trips this year to Liberia, (and potentially) Iceland, Kenya, and Nigeria.

*This was a good year for travel. For new countries, I went to Morocco, Kenya, the Netherlands, Germany, and Liberia for work. I am now at 34 countries!

  1. Nanowrimo

Last year I wrote 50,000 words for National Novel Writing Month! I’m up for the challenge or an equivalent again.

*I did Nanowrimo as part of a collaboration with my Memoir Generator class. While I did not get 50,000 words, we did collectively as a class.

  1. Get a real purse

I think I may be a little too old to be hauling my college backpack around town.

*Got one! Unfortunately, what I really need to replace the college backpack is an adult backpack or brief case. See goals for 29 before 29.

  1. Maintain a healthy work/life balance

I love my new job! But I also like my life outside of work. I’m going to set up better boundaries and figure out my own limits.

*Always a work in progress.

  1. Better define “my style”

I don’t think I ever really learned how to dress myself. I’m so indecisive I find shopping dreadful. But now that I’m sailing towards 30, it is time to be more proactive about my wardrobe. I’m open to books, websites, and other helpful suggestions.

*I’m actually feeling great about this one. Nothing specific to point to, but I’m feeling a combination of less buyers remorse and more trust in my own preferences.

  1. Work on my posture

I’m a sloucher. My friend told me there’s a Fitbit for this!

*Haha, funny.

  1. Keep up my Instagram and photography

I have so many photos from my travels and have been posting them on @deliberate_wanderer. I fell off schedule when I started my new job, but I’d like to get back on the horse. I think it is important to document life.

*I sorta revived this, but in general this year has been a social media flop. 

  1. Reach out to friends and family

Often busy-Rachel gets reclusive and waits for other people to initiate things. I’d like to prioritize my relationships and get outside of myself more. For example, I’d like to initiate one friend dinner a month and keep a calling schedule for faraway friends and family. At the end of the day, relationships are more important to me than anything else.

*This is always going to be a priority for me. I’m thinking of other ways to reincorporate this goal into next year’s goals.

Rachel Rueckert

Rachel Rueckert is a writer, photographer, teacher, and travel addict with a background in English and anthropology. Though she is based out of Boston, she is currently backpacking around the world doing an independent writing and research project on marriage around the globe with her new husband.

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