How to Write a Birthday List


Aug 03 2016

Gold Tape

How to Write a Birthday List

What is a birthday list?

A birthday list is a list of adventures to treat myself with throughout the year. It’s like a bucket list, but with the deadline of my next birthday.

Why write a birthday list?

Trimming your bucket list to what I want to do this year helps me a. decide what I actually, definitely want to do, and b. what I CAN do, with that time limit.

How to Write a Birthday List

How to get ideas for what to put on your birthday list

Gather inspiration

I collect boards on Pinterest throughout the year, and use this time to reflect on what I’ve pinned: recipes to make, crafts to do, any home objects I can acquire to take a step in the direction of my Pinterest dream life. 

  • Example: Last year I collected a tea cup cactus garden.

If you use a Passion Planner, there’s a Passion Roadmap in the beginning and middle of the year for you to dream on paper and outline your wishes for three months’ time, one year, three years, and your lifetime. I have a look at these and pick a few that I can work on. 

  • Example: This year I want to complete Cassey Ho’s PIIT 28 fitness challenge.

Check your shopping list or wish list. I keep all of these items in my Reminders app. Decide if there are any investments that will make a big difference.

Look at your calendar for the year ahead, noting what you are already planning on doing and where you are planning on going or being.

  • Example: I was about to move to Scotland while I was writing my first Birthday List, so I put “visit the Isle of Skye” because I knew I definitely wanted to go there.
How to Write a Birthday List

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Think up some categories.

I have some loose categories that I refer to to make sure that I balance out my list with my different areas of passion.

  • food
  • language learning
  • seasonal
  • outdoors
  • local
  • travel

Take baby steps.

I’m working towards learning French and Korean, so last year I promised to “read a book in French”, and this year I’m mastering a French language app, and learning the Korean alphabet.

How to define and phrase your goals

You may have heard of “SMART” goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound

Specific: Choose a task that is definitive.

  • instead of “incorporate more korean culture into my life” -> “make bibimbap”

Measurable: How will you know when you’re done?

Achievable: Can you get this done in a year without stressing yourself out? Can you afford it? Do you have the time?

  • instead of “be fluent in french” -> “read a book in french

Relevant: Do you actually want to do this? Tasks should require you to go a little out of your way, but should also be ones that you are certain you will want to do in a year.

  • I nixed “go out for afternoon tea”. Too easy. 

Time Bound: Already built into the assignment. You have one year.

What I learned this year

Avoid tasks that are secretly more than one task. I put “finish reading the complete works of Shakespeare” which was more like 5 tasks. 

Allow yourself some leeway. I started to read Harry Potter et l’école des sorciers and stopped partway through because I would prefer to read it in English (where Snape is Snape and not Professor Rogue). But I still got what I wanted to out of the task to begin with, by realising that I do indeed know enough Harry Potter and enough French to understand the text [mostly Harry Potter]. 

How to Write a Birthday List

26 Things to Do Before I Turn 26 – Birthday List 2017

  1. visit a new country.
  2. celebrate midsummer.
  3. see a 5-star play.
  4. travel south for the winter.
  5. master a french language learning app.
  6. participate in the harry potter alliance.
  7. visit a distillery.
  8. redeem my dining rights in college.
  9. see a west end musical.
  10. attend a ceilidh.
  11. do a hedge maze.
  12. perfect a salad recipe for lunch.
  13. perform onstage.
  14. complete PIIT 28.
  15. lead 6b.
  16. record a taylor swift duet.
  17. play a new video game.
  18. be able to name all the countries in the world.
  19. have a signature homemade juice.
  20. invest in a new winter hat.
  21. get a new house plant.
  22. find a signature lipstick.
  23. try a new kind of meditation.
  24. send a care package.
  25. learn the korean alphabet.
  26. climb somewhere new.

Have you ever written a birthday list? What are you going to do this year?


P.S. See my last two years of birthday lists here!

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