Re-evaluating Ambition: Looking at my 30 before 30 goals

Six years ago, I created a 30 Before 30 list. This was a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30.

I wrote the list just before I turned 28. The last two years of my 20s seemed like they could stretch on forever, so I figured it wasn’t too late.

There is a famous Bill Gates quote, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

I overestimated what I could accomplish in those two years.

Now, as I slide into my mid-30s, I’m ready to take a crack at putting together a 40 before 40 list. We’ll see if I can accomplish more in six years than I could in two.

Before I start, though, I want to see how many of my 30 before 30 list still apply, how many have been eliminated, and how much I’ve grown in the last six years.

1. Get down to 250 Pounds (or 18% Body Fat)

I’m tired of riding the fat guy roller coaster. I’ve wasted too much of my life on hating my body.

I haven’t stepped on a scale in a long time. It’s been at least a year, probably longer. The only time I’ve measured myself was when I was checking sizes before ordering clothes. I’ve embraced being a fat guy and feel much more content with myself.

Weight is no longer important.

I am eating healthier (most of the time) and trying to be more active. But, it isn’t about trying to change my body. My brain functions better when I eat better food and I can fight off depression longer when I’m active.

The only goal I have now is to feel better.

2. Go to an NHL Game

I still haven’t been to a major-league hockey game and now that I live in Montana, thousands of miles from an arena, the chances are almost nonexistent.

If the opportunity shows up, I’ll take it, but I won’t plan a vacation and travel around it.

I haven’t even watched hockey on TV in a few years. I couldn’t tell you anything about it anymore.

3. Go Skiing

Ironically, now that I live somewhere skiing is possible and common, I don’t want to do it.

There is nothing appealing about sliding down the side of a mountain on very thin strips of wood. I think this comes from having stood on top of a mountain and realized skiing is a great way to get killed.

4. When a Tournament of the Fallen Leaves

The Tournament of the Fallen Leaves is a boffer tournament hosted by the Springfield, MO chapter of Eldaraenth.

I live over 2000 miles from Springfield and I don’t know anyone who boffers in the area. Calling my skills rusty would be a kindness.

I’m pretty much a newb fighter at this point. But, that’s okay. When I can make it to an Eldaraenth event, I get much more pleasure from spending time catching up with friends I consider family. I don’t need to hit them with foam swords, too.

5. Learn to Play the Harmonica

I do not have a shred of musical talent in my entire body.

There. Admitting it feels good.

No matter how much I practiced, I never came close to creating music. Then, one day my harmonica disappeared.

I don’t know if it ran away on its own or if someone convinced it to leave, but it ended my hope of ever being John Popper.

Blues traveling isn’t for me. You have to let go of things sometimes. Some dreams just aren’t worth the suffering they create.

I should put that on a poster. “Some dreams aren’t worth suffering for.” I could sell them at my self-help seminars.

6. Take a Vacation by Train

When did trains get so expensive?

I always thought traveling by train was cheaper than flying. I was wrong. Trains are the most expensive way to travel. At least, if you’re doing it the way I want to do it.

One day, I’ll take a land cruise and live in a train for a week. I need to save up for it, but I will make it happen.

Look, I have my first goal I can carry forward to my 40 before 40 list!

7. Construct an Entire Suit of Armor

It’s crazy how many things on this list relate to Eldaraenth. But, it was a huge part of my life for over ten years.

Since I no longer fight with foam swords, I no longer require protection from them. Completing a suit of armor is not a good use of my time or resources anymore. It would just sit on an armor stand as a sad reminder of when I was cooler.

Maybe if the apocalypse comes, I’ll reinvest in this goal. For now, I’ll stick to other creative outlets.

That said, I still have my sketches and think they’re awesome. So, maybe I’ll do something else with them.

8. Learn to Cook Six Distinct Meals

Once upon a time, I thought this would be the hardest thing I could ever do.

86 Home Chef meals later, I’m laughing at my past self.

9 & 10. Write a Novel during NaNoWriMo

Choices was written during NaNoWriMo. I’ve also completed two other yet-to-be-published NanoWriMo books since.

In retrospect, writing a novel was easy. Writing a good novel is very, very hard. Maybe I’ll pull that off one day.

11. Write a Graphic Novel

Once upon a time, I took part in a web comic called Alcohologist Chronicles.

We had a hard time keeping an artist, so we ended up turning it into a series of short stories.

I think Chris and I would both like to see it as a graphic novel, but it isn’t a priority anymore. What I’d like to see is an Alcohologist Chronicles television series.

Since it would be Rated “Worse Than Deadpool,” It would have to be done on Netflix.

12. Sell a Doodle

I pulled this one off immediately after writing the original post. I’ve since sold quite a few things on my long-abandoned Zazzle store.

13. Write a World Book (for Eldaraenth)

I don’t know if I’m the person to do this anymore. I would still like to collaborate on it though.

It would be awesome to invite a few key Eldaraenth game-runners to an extended retreat for building the full and official Eldaraenth history.

14. Drink a Martini at a Bar While Wearing a Suit

I no longer consume alcohol for multiple reasons. I won’t elaborate on them here, but I should consider writing a blog post about it at some point.

15. Buy a Suit

I bought a suit.

It’s a little small around the man-boobs, but if I need to attend a wedding or a funeral, I could still pull it off. Especially if I pair it with a vest.

No one wonders why you aren’t buttoning your jacket if you’re wearing a vest.

16. Earn as Much Money in One Month From My Creative Work as I Make Working My Crappy Job

I quit my crappy job in January 2013. So any money I make is as much as I make working that job.

That said, I haven’t had a single month where I’ve made as much from books and art, but I’ve come close. The entire Seven Keys Saga has earned enough over its lifetime to win though.

17. Speak publicly to an extremely large crowd

In the original goal, I defined an “extremely large crowd” as 300 people.

I’m still working up to it. The largest group I’ve spoken to is about 50. I’ll get there. One step at a time.

18. Earn the “Phoenix Badge” on

Earned on October 8, 2015.

19. 365 Days of Journaling

I didn’t put in a row on this goal, but that was the intention. Just counting blog posts, I’ve written got over 1500.

I won’t ever hit 365 days in a row. I’ve made two days each week writing free.

I suppose I should make this goal “Five journal entries per week for 52 weeks in a row.”

20. A Spontaneous Road Trip to Somewhere I’ve Never Been Before

In February 2013, I jumped in my car and drove south to avoid a blizzard encroaching on Kansas City. I drove all over southern Missouri and most of Arkansas. I stopped in all kinds of little towns I didn’t even know existed. It was the greatest extended weekend of my life.

21. Try the Food of at Least Three New Cultures

Just talking about food I’ve eaten in restaurants, I got to add Ethiopian, Korean, and Thai.

Thanks to Home Chef, I’ve learned to cook food from several other cultures. The best thing about being a fat guy? “Broadening your horizons” is an excuse to eat delicious, savory things.

22. Create a Trending Topic on Twitter

I’m bad at Twitter and getting worse. Which is why I took a course to improve. I now have a much greater understanding of the platform.

But, virality is out of my hands. No one can control what takes off and what doesn’t. This just isn’t a good goal.

23. Move Downtown

I did the opposite. I ended up moving way out into the country. Then, six months later, I moved to Helena. I don’t live downtown, but I am within walking distance.

Of course, as Cordelia Chase would say, “There isn’t a whole lot of town here.”

24. Do A Podcast With My Homey, Yeti Detective, For Real

We did this.

For over a year, we did a bi-weekly show called Half-Drunk Podcast.

We are talking about doing a new show with a more professional format. Since he now lives in New York and I live in Montana, logistics has been an issue for us to figure out, but we’re both down to make something cool happen.

I also did a podcast on my own. New Writer Podcast was dedicated to my writing journey and collapsed when I hit a heavy round of depression last year. I’ve considered starting it again and have had people tell me they’d like it, but I’m not sure if I have much value to add to the writing podcast market.

That said, I might try my hand at creating an audioblog. I’ve even toyed with the idea of doing a vlog series on YouTube.

We’ll see.

25. Help My Friends Chase Their Dreams

I try a little every day. I’m a great cheerleader and have been through enough scrapes to have a bit of knowledge on quite a few industries. I’m good at pointing people to resources and have a few contacts I can introduce them to if they’re serious.

But, I’ve realized that you can’t force people to change their life. I think this is the biggest danger of self-improvement. Once you see things getting better for yourself, you want to share that feeling with the people around you. It doesn’t always work well.

26. Finalize my divorce


Since ending my marriage, I’ve also ruined another relationship and returned to my life as a celibate monk.

I’m bad at romance and don’t need sex to feel fulfilled.

I’ve spent too much time on my divorce and relationship issues on this blog, so I won’t elaborate more. I’m happy where I am and that is enough for now.

27. Get Professional Headshots

I’m still procrastinating on this. Besides, I like my current headshot:

It is also difficult to find a photographer I like and can afford. This would be easier if I was in Missouri because my friend Joey is an awesome photographer and I would love to have him do my headshots. You can see some of his work on Facebook or Instagram.

28. Learn to Oil Paint

My parents bought me an oil paints set for Christmas a few years back. I used it. I followed instructions from THE BOB ROSS and still sucked at it. Once I ran out of paint, I ran out of desire to keep pursuing it.

I’m not an artist. I’m a doodler.

I’m sorry, Bob Ross. I’ve failed you. My canvas is not happy.

29. Build a Custom Sword

This will happen one day.

Swords are awesome. They are the coolest weapon humanity has ever invented, and humanity is good at inventing weapons.

Swords are also crazy expensive. Especially for functional custom pieces. This will be my “made it” reward. Once I have enough money to pay a swordsmith to do this work without leaving me feeling like I flushed a pile of cash down the crapper, I’ll know I’m rich.

30. Define Who I Am In A Single Sentence

M.A. Brotherton is an author, blogger, doodler, and professional adult on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment.

Okay. That sounds pretentious.

You can’t define a person in one sentence. We are all who we are at the moment. It is ever changing and ever evolving. We are all many things to different people at different times.

I suppose my one sentence should be:

I am an ever evolving sentient organism currently identifying myself as M.A. Brotherton.

I should wear that on a nametag.

40 Before 40

It is Friday. I will take a weekend and do a little soul searching, a little couch napping, and a lot of laundry. I’ll come back next week and tell you where I go from here.

Hopefully, it’ll involve space.