I did some analysis a few days ago on a project I’ve been working on, and was surprised at what I discovered.

Actually, it would be more accurate to describe it as “a project I started almost a year ago that was going well, then got stalled and abandoned, and now feels like just another one of those projects I started but never finished.”

Do you have any of those?

The project was a personal challenge inspired by a friend of mine who decided on her 60th birthday that by her next birthday she was going to do 60 things she had never done before. If this sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about it last summer, when I decided to do the same thing – even though I was already past 60 at the time. So on my next birthday, I started my “61 by 62” project. My friend wrote each new experience on a slip of paper that she deposited in a special jar, but I simply posted a numbered list on my bulletin board, and wrote down new experiences as they happened.

Things started out well, especially when I went to Uganda in August. It was my fourth trip there, but still included new experiences that went up on my list when I got home. Two months into my project, I was already 1/3 of the way to my goal.

In October I had the opportunity to spend a week in Barcelona, which gave me plenty of new activities and experiences. Too many to list, in fact – so I didn’t. When I got home, I got busy, and never got around to posting my more memorable and noteworthy experiences. Then, whenever I did something new here at home, it was a reminder that I still hadn’t updated my list. Soon I just stopped keeping track.

Not long ago, a stray comment from someone motivated me to take another look at my list. By now, I was still only 1/3 of the way to my goal, but with only two months left to complete it. In spite of some “What’s the point?” moments, I sat down with my journal from Barcelona, and my calendar. My updated list now includes things like wading in the Mediterranean Sea, eating an ox burger, getting an impromptu hip hop lesson from one of the dance instructors in our group, plus other new – though less exotic – experiences I’ve had since then. By the time I was done, I had 63 new experiences on my list. And I still have two months left to go!

What this taught me is that once we decide to do something and start consciously and deliberately doing it, we often continue without even noticing it. But we need to pay attention, so we can recognize and celebrate successes we might otherwise not even realize we’ve achieved.

I’m going to continue looking for new challenges to face and new experiences to try. On each birthday yet to come, I’ll hit the “Reset” button and start counting all over again. And I bet I’ll be feeling younger every year.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 30, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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