Early Retirement Journey Listicles Season 1

How Design-Thinking Can Inspire Your Early Retirement Journey

Possible titles for this post.
How to Design Your Life
How to Design Your Life in Early Retirement
30 things to do in your 30s
How to Design Your Life Along your Early Retirement Journey
How to Design your Life: Visions of Life in Early Retirement 
How to Design your Life: Visions of Life Along Your Early Retirement Journey
How to Design your Life: Visions Along My Early Retirement Journey
How to Design Your Life: My Early Retirement Journey x – List 


I’ve been writing this post for a while now. As you can see above, I was getting stuck even on the title. It is something I have journaled about before I started My Early Retirement Journey. After reading Michelle’s bucket list on Making Sense of Cents, I was motivated to at least post some draft of what’s been circling in my thoughts because it was powerful to me what she had essentially spoken and written into existence. It was her bucket list from 2011, and it is remarkable how much of it she has achieved already as of 2018.  Her list was not just the typical adventure travel list; it included financial and personal goals. I found it really inspiring and felt compelled to get something drafted and published sooner rather than later. Thus, I purposed to get this post up by this weekend Memorial Day Weekend 2018 as opposed to putting it off any longer or scheduling it during peak blogging season.

In keeping any hints of envy at bay, I want to take a moment to celebrate what I have crossed off a short bucket list I once kept and a de facto one acquired along the way:

  • See Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person
  • Visit California
  • See a Broadway show in NYC
  • Visit the Redwood Forest
  • Ride the PCH
  • Water-ski
  • Learn to surf
  • Sail the Intercostal Waterway
  • Visit Mexico
  • Take a roadtrip or two
  • Visit more states (seen 40 of the 50)
  • Visit all seven continents (4 so far)
  • Go to Eastern Europe
  • Be Independent
  • Get my own place, no roommates
  • Graduate college (3 times over)
  • Get an advanced degree
  • Get a passport
  • Get passport stamps
  • Go snow skiing… the list goes on.

Design your life.
So in accumulating my monstrous student loan debt and having an adventure here and there, I did graduate from a fancy school or two. One of which published some webinars on how to design your life. It was awhile ago now, but from what I remember the lecturer applied basic principles of engineering and design-thinking to the concept of achieving your optimal life flow.  In the Design Your Life Lecture Series, there are questions posed that must be answered and exercises to further aid your life design. I would encourage you, readers, to spend a little time getting to recognize your flow.

General Synopsis and Tips:

  • Your optimal life happens at the intersection of skill set and challenge.
  • Identify engagements (e.g. work, meetings, instrumental activities of daily living) that leave you with more energy (positive) rather than less energy (negative).
  • For optimal flow, as your skills move from low to high, so must your challenge otherwise you risk anxiety (too challenging) or boredom (not challenging enough).
  • Lastly, passion is not something you find, it’s something that comes into focus along the way. So you’re not necessarily seeking your passion but optimizing your flow.

The FIRE community has re-framed some of these concepts as happiness quotients derived from line items in your time/expense graph (i.e. spend money on things that make you happy or afford you the time for things that do; eliminate expenses that don’t). Many are heard to describe spending more time with family; raising their children; or traveling as desirable objectives in the FIRE journey.  I had a brief travel bucket list in my late teens to early 20s and am grateful to have had the opportunity to cross off a few places stateside and abroad. Having been to everywhere I care to see the list soon ended.  I never made another one. In my current season of life, travel for the adventure of it isn’t really a high priority.  For the record, neither are children and creating a family. I think what takes the challenge of out of adventure travel for me and thus the interest, is that it is fairly achievable. If you want go to go the Redwood Forest, save your money, buy a ticket and go. Granted the save the money part didn’t always happen first, but the idea is- there wasn’t really anything to work towards.

Now in My Early Retirement Journey, I want my life engagements and life events to be more purposeful, more intentional (not unlike my saving). As referenced in the Design Your Life lecture series, I want a positive energy outcome. Right now, I am very grateful to be employed at a fairly technical and straightforward job, but it is not providing my optimal flow. I’m happy to seek that outside of work and have pointed my compass towards My Early Retirement Journey.  It’s been 3 years since I’ve graduated professional school and been seeking some sort of direction. It’s been 1.5 years since I first watched the Design Your Life webinar. My thoughts circle around the same or similar life events I want to happen, but I have been unable to commit to anything. I vacillate betwixt the events being too small, insignificant, or without impact; to not really wanting to expend the energy to commit to something for which I can’t reliably anticipate a desirable outcome;  to not wanting to push my luck and ask for anything more in life. I largely feel as though I’ve been given enough and that perhaps I’m being greedy. With that mindset, I find myself stuck and still not moving my life forward or in any direction really.

Then last night when I again tried to write this post, I stumbled upon Physician on FIRE’s list of things to do in early retirement, and it got me thinking again. With this most recent post, my recall of the Design Your Life webinars and Michelle’s impressive bucket list, I decided to just go for it.

Without committing to anything, or self editing, I am going to free associate what I see, saw, and have seen when envisioning My Early Retirement Journey (i.e. life in general). Achievable or not; significant or not; wish-list or bucket-list or goal-list or dream-list; desirable or not; superfluous or insignificant; worthwhile or without impact; work towards or magically happen; passively or actively seek; classified or not; categorized or not; contradiction or not; hypocritical or not; off-brand or not; these are my visions, as is.

My Early Retirement Journey - how to be single in your 30s and retire early


My x list.
Here goes…in no particular order.
(revision date: 25 May 2018)

  1. Experience life in another language.
  2. Have my student loan debt cancelled before 25 years.
  3. Raise awareness for the student loan debt crisis. Let the campaign make national news and be really successful.
  4. Find a place I can call home.
  5. Answer key question from the DYL series and life in general: Where do I belong?
  6. Reach FIRE by 35.
  7. Reach FIRE by 40.
  8. Reach FIRE by 45.
  9. Discover my purpose while I still have time, energy, and health to enjoy it.
  10. Leave a lasting legacy on the world.
  11. Leave a lasting impact on the world.
  12. Know that my life was meant to be.
  13. In my community or place I found to call home, do public health or  community service.
  14. Work with the American Red Cross disaster relief.
  15. Do a free medical mission.
  16. Find a church family.
  17. Find something that excites me as much as going to school in the 3rd grade (I went even when I had the chicken pox I liked it so much).
  18. Form a tribe that nourishes my spirit. Or learn to live without one.
  19. Be unbroken.
  20. Have a ritual of a morning, afternoon, evening walk/stroll.
  21. Eat ice-cream again.
  22. Not get diabetes or high blood pressure.
  23. Not get cancer and die a miserable death.
  24. Not get killed, murdered, or raped.
  25. Not die a horrible death.
  26. Die peacefully in my sleep at age 62 after being retired for at least 20 years.
  27. Eat well.
  28. Cook more.
  29. Regularly try new recipes.
  30. Bake more.
  31. Chop more.
  32. Eat more vegetables.
  33. Never be constipated again.
  34. Not be incontinent. Never lose bladder or bowel control.
  35. Never need dental work again.
  36. Automate the easy choices in my life..to include breakfast, lunch, finances.
  37. Be kind.
  38. Have 1, 2, or 3 now wildly successful men from my past profess their undying love and proclaim I was the one that got away.
  39. Eat seasonally.
  40. Crack a lottery game and reap the rewards.
  41. Get to/thrive on a bare bones 500/500/500 budget; if student loan eliminated, replace with health insurance, travel budget/ missions (total 18k/year).
  42. Enjoy water sports.
  43. Host a small group (e.g. life group/bible study).
  44. Write a love story blog/ web series in the vein of the Murder She Wrote television program and be really good at it. Be the first to create this genre.
  45. Be an old lady actress.
  46. Have a cult following of my Love She Wrote serial blog.
  47. Not take an OTC or RX for at least 1 calendar year (not even an ibuprofen, vitamin, iron pills, or GI aids).
  48. Find my voice.
  49. Stop being the sidekick in my own narrative, life story.  Stop playing a supporting role in my own life. Be the hero of my story. Be the hero of my journey.
  50. Inherit a million dollars.

I would encourage all of you to at least write down your x-list for your life. Whether you believe in working with the universe, speaking thoughts into action or existence, plain hard work, vision boards, or the help of a higher power, making your intentions known is a part of the process even if only to yourself. Have a great day! Enjoy the journey wherever it leads.

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  1. I have been contemplating writing my x-list for life or bucket list for a few weeks. Not actually got any further than contemplating but I have a significant birthday coming up so if I'm going to write one it makes to do so to coincide with said birthday.

    Problem is, I'm not that enthused right now. I'm not a great one for writing, never had a journal, tend to read much and write little. I think I am all written out with this blogging malarkey so not sure I'll get it done to my own imposed deadline.

    But, I like your list, its eclectic it's not full of challenging goals that all centre around costly far flung travel or art/culture. I had culture rammed down my throat as a teen so shy away from anything that could be deemed 'culture'!

  2. Yeah, I'm generally over trying to be interesting. It was endless…when people started going to iceland for fun… i parted ways with that lifestyle. oooo…curious to see what the milestone birthday is… i guess i could probably figure it out if i re-read your posts…but my brain is in night mode…where i do my least thinking…. I'd be interested in whatever x-list you compile… it's summer… time for some fun fluffy posts…that seems to be what the They are doing :)… i plan to follow suit.

  3. Just between you and me, I hit the big 50 in less than 2 weeks. Now a little maths test for you. When I turn 50 the sum of my age and both DD1 & DD2 will equal 100. So how old are DD1 & DD2? (hint, they both have zero's as well).
    Am thinking I should do a "we are 100" post. But as I am anonymous and DD's don't know I am blogging…….not sure the point? Then again I'll probably let them read it at some point, might need to sanitise the posts where I moan about DD2 a bit first! Ha!

  4. I love math! I would guess 30 and 20. Did I know your children were that old? Hmm.. I like we are 100 as a post title … I'm posting a catchy title summer challenge one of these days… does your husband know you blog? curious that you're keeping it from your daughters.. Happy 50th!! and on track to retire early! Go you! Hey…do you have a preferred posting schedule…just completed one of my drafts that's been circling in my head. My excitement wants to publish it now 11:10pm EST…but good sense says schedule it for tomorrow….

  5. Thank you! Hubby knows and complains cos it takes up sooo much time. DD's for different reasons, but mainly as am not comfortable with anyone knowing just yet. Still finding my feet and all that. I post Mondays and Fridays. I work better when I have targets to aim for so twice a week and preferably have at least 2 weeks scheduled ahead in case life overtakes my posting. I personally would definitely schedule that post for say 5pm today. Then again it doesn't really matter. I just like things organised and in a routine. Means I don't have to think so much!!

  6. I also am more productive with targets for which to aim. I thrive on routine! I prefer to put as much as my life on auto-pilot as possible. Hmmm… so you prefer evening posts. I have been doing a.m. posts for the most part. I initially scheduled this one for Thurs a.m. and after reading a few posts on timing, I published it because I got too excited and I want to compare it to my usual Tuesday 9a posts to see how it does. With my meager traffic…this is really just for the geek in me. I love a good experiment. Have a good day !

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