Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Why I quit my 40 by 40

Today was supposed to be Judging Covers but things happen so we’re talking about why I quit my 40 by 40 instead. Judging Covers will be here on Thursday.

Like every good blogger, I established my 40 by 40 list and shared it for all the world to see. I think I created it when I was 37, almost 38, giving me more than 2 years to accomplish it (although I put that I had 52 months. I should have put “relearn math” on the list). It wasn’t a difficult list, with mostly easy items to check off or accomplish. I made some progress and then, about a year ago, I said fuck it and quit the whole damn thing.  

Deciding to quit it wasn’t something I hemmed and hawed about. I didn’t work through all the pros and cons or have a long, drawn out discussion with friends or my husband or even here. I simply decided I didn’t want to do it anymore and let it go. 

But since some of you asked why, here’s the main reasons:

  1. It was too much pressure. I started to feel obligated to do things that maybe I didn’t care about anymore and that didn’t make them fun. 
  2. I hated most of the items. Admittedly, it was a stupid list and at this point, almost nothing on it seemed either feasible or like something I wanted to do.
  3. It was arbitrary. When I created it, I threw things at a wall to see what stuck. Sort of like I do with spaghetti. I didn’t spend much time thinking it through and what came out was a big old mess of shit. This is probably what led me to hate the items.
  4. It was impractical. There were items on there that had absolutely no way of coming true given my propensity for laziness and introvert tendencies.
  5. I don’t think of 40 as a deadline. I know it’s one of those milestone, big deal birthdays but honestly? I’m totally fine with turning 40 and I certainly don’t think that I have to stop trying new things because of my age. 
  6. It seemed too final. Like, what do I do when that’s all done? Goals and new things should be fluid rather than fixed. Crossing off the items gave me a sense of accomplishment but then what? Is this list really all I want to do?
  7. It was too bucket listy. I don’t believe in bucket lists and a 40 by 40 made it sound like my life was ending (see explanation #5). If I had a list, it needs to be more of the to-do type and without finite deadlines. 
  8. I usually forgot about it. When making decisions, I rarely referred to the list. I did what I wanted with no regard for any type of progress. 
  9. I didn’t care anymore. Honestly, it stopped being important to me to work through it. 

So there you go. That’s why I gave it up. 

I don’t necessarily feel freer that I don’t have it anymore but I definitely feel less obligated. I still want to do check off many of the items but I’ll get to it when I get to it and that’s fine by me. 

How about you guys? Do you have a 40 by 40 or 30 by 30 or any other age related goals list? If you had one and quit like I did, why did you?

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  1. Lauren

    I’m not a goal person and maybe a lot of the reasons why you nixed yours is why they don’t work for me. I’m just not as good as articulating as you are. I’m not great with longterm thinking and I knew I would forget. Goals are great, but the age deadline does seem like a downer. Glad you’re doing what works for you!

  2. Linda Sheridan

    I don’t have lists. Things change constantly. I do love to be home with all of my stuff and my people which includes furry people. They are more people-like than most people. I have been going with the flow for quite some time now and it works for me. That’s what’s important. Going to one of those retirement investment dinners tonight! Informative and a lovely meal. Free. Enjoy your youth!!
    Love, Steph’s Momma

  3. Rebecca Jo

    I so love this. There are so many ‘bucket lists’ going around & I love your thoughts on this… I love the point about it NOT being the end. why put a deadline?
    Kudos to you for throwing a stone in the water on this!

  4. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I use these types of list as like a loose here’s what’s out there list that I’d like to do. I don’t feel bad that many of them are not checked off. Some of them I don’t want to do anymore. Some I do, and they’ll roll over because they aren’t getting done in the next month.

  5. Alyssa

    A lot of these reasons are why I quit my 101 in 1001 too. I did take a long time to come up with all 100 items, but 1001 days is a long time and halfway through, things stopped being important and I absolutely resented some of the items on my list. And life went a totally different way than I thought it would, so some just became impossible and then stared me in the face like I was a major failure. That’s not fun. But I too stopped caring, and deleting the whole damn thing was easy enough.

    I think goals in general are important. But I think sometimes goal lists are more trouble than they’re worth or do more harm than good. Good for you for ditching your list when it became the opposite of what it needed to be.

  6. Michael

    #1 and #9 are THE biggest reason I gave up my 101 in 1001 list. After I made the list, after considerable thought, it just wasn’t practical or fun. A lot of the things are still on my mental list but the time frame isn’t realistic and I don’t do well when told what to do, even if by myself.

  7. Stephanie

    I’m all for people quitting lists they aren’t in love with! Goals should be things you actually want to do, if you hate it, you’re just punishing yourself for no reason. I don’t have an age related one, but I do have my 101 in 1001 list, which I love because I work well with deadlines and I thought long and hard about each and every item on the list. Even so, there’s still a couple that I changed since I started. I feel no pressure to try to do something I don’t want to do anymore!

  8. Ali

    I’m not a goal person AT ALL and I always get uneasy reading people’s monthly goals posts and then there are follow-ups of “well, let’s see if I actually did them!” No. Because I wouldn’t do them. I cant adhere to stuff like that, nor do I want to. And like you said, oftentimes we change our mind and shift our priorities on things so we can’t expect to make a list and years later have it still be relevant/important to us. Good on you for quitting! 🙂

  9. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Every reason you listed with why I have never done one of these. I pretty much suck at personal goals, so I figured why bother. But recently I found myself pondering whether I should do one for 50. The idea struck a deeper chord with me now because I didn’t accomplish much in my 30’s. I spent a few years overworked and stressed and then severely depressed, so when I look back all I see is missed opportunities. If I decide to do it, I have to make a fluctuating list because goals change and I’ll stop working on it if it becomes a list of things that no longer mean anything to me.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…Coffee Talk with TanyaMy Profile

  10. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I have a 101 in 1001 list, and while I’m still trying to accomplish it, I don’t think that there’s any way possible for me to complete everything on the list. But it was kind of fun to see if I could do it!

  11. Christina

    I feel the same way about these kind of bucket lists as you do. I did a 52 things in 52 weeks thing a few years ago and while I did cross off quite a few, it didn’t matter to me that they were on a list and I was being held accountable. I definitely have things I want to do/see/accomplish in my life, but I’ll just get to them when I get to them. And they change. I used to want to skydive. Now I have no desire whatsoever.

  12. Nadine

    I have a 40 x 40 list that I started when I was 31 or 32, knowing I had “plenty of time” to get through it all. Umm yeah I doubt it is going to happen. I look at it more of a list of things that would be cool if I get to do them…but I am not going to put any pressure on myself to actually do all of them. It is a fun list to look at if I want to push myself out of my comfort zone I guess.

  13. Audrey

    I just revamped my 30×30. I pretty much quit my old one/took 1/3 of it and added some stuff I really wanted to do, even if it was simple stuff like finding the perfect booties. Ha.
    Audrey recently posted…Friday er, Thursday FavoritesMy Profile

  14. Kristin

    It’s arbitrary. I never made one for that reason. Like, if I put “go to China” on the list but couldn’t make it happen before I turned a certain age, did I fail? Our lifestyle has dictated where we live so I’ve found new things to do that I didn’t realize were there 5 years ago and I’m not exactly going to go back to Alaska or Missouri or somewhere to visit a certain place before I reach a certain age. I don’t like these lists just because it seems like a roundabout way of a brag(?). I don’t go to blogs to read lists of accomplishments.

  15. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    i can barely handle one goal so doing a 40 by 40 is way too much work for me!

  16. Donna Freedman

    My life — the one I was supposed to have — didn’t really start until my late 40s, when I fled my abusive marriage. Until then I did have a couple of great things happen, especially giving birth to my daughter and clawing my way into a journalism job without any j-school experience or indeed any degree at all.

    My 50s have been the best time of my life, especially since that was the decade during which I (finally!) earned a degree and also found true love. (It had been there for about 18 years, but it was disguised as a deep friendship. Then it turned into something even deeper.)

    I’m not a “list your goals!” kind of person, either, so I doubt I would have done a 40 by 40 thing anyway. Maybe I should do a 100 by 100.

    Nah. Why limit myself???
    Donna Freedman recently posted…Found money in 2016.My Profile

  17. kristen

    i had a 30 by 30 and basically quit it for all the same reasons – i didn’t care, i forgot about it, it wasn’t a deadline. i made another smaller list of actual achievable goals that i did care about about 6 months ago, but i didn’t complete all of them by 30… though i don’t care because i can still work on them. it’s not like i lost the right to develop a skincare routine or whatever just because i turned 30 lol. i won’t be doing a 40 by 40.

  18. Robin

    I tried these in the past, but I quit them for similar reasons. The list made the activities feel like chores. I will be 29 soon and I couldn’t care less about getting close to 30. It’s just a number to me.

  19. Elyse @ Just Murrayed

    I epically failed at my 30×30 list because I only had about 2 years to complete it so I was traumatized to start a 40×40 list BUT I changed my mind and perspective recently, I plan on changing my list frequently if something doesn’t fit into my life because I’ve decided life is too short not to have a bucket list.


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