24 things to do while 24, featuring the evil blue square

Disclaimer: This blog post really includes three posts in one!
Click here to jump to “23 Things To Do While 23”
Click here to jump to the blog about the evil blue square
Click here to jump down to “24 Things to Do When 24”

I had another birthday, and I’m late on my next birthday bucket list again!

Last September, I posted a blog about 23 things that I wanted to do while I was 23. Last June, my “friend” (aka my boyfriend) suggested that I do this list. Well, if you’ve kept up with my blog posts, you’ll know how chaotic 23 was for me! I’m excited for 24 since I’m a lot more settled in my life– but that doesn’t mean I’m slowing down! First, I want to do a review of my 23 list, and then I’ll share my 24 list!

23 Things To Do While 23 (in no particular order)

Get a job 

Still working on this. Please reference this blog post.

Graduate ✔️


Run a 5K

Adding this to my 24 list!

Read 23 books

This one was a little ambitious, but I have done more voluntary reading at 23 than I have done in a while!

Do something new at Disney ✔️

I am was at Disney all the time (if you don’t know me). I am an annual pass holder and turn into a 5 year old as soon as I cross the line onto Disney property. Since I am so comfortable in the parks, I often complete my usual path and stick to my same tips and tricks. I definitely did new things at Disney this last year, especially since I did a trip at the end of last summer with my nephews! Disney with children is A LOT different than with adults. But my mom and dad and I also tried some new things for my birthday / mother’s day, and did the Sip Savor and Sparkle on top of Contemporary Resort at the California Grill one evening. 10/10 recommend! Plus, Disney changed the long-running Wishes fireworks to a new show called Happily Ever After, AND I got to do the Keys to the Kingdom Tour (aka THE BACKSTAGE TOUR) for my birthday. So I definitely got new adventures this year!

Go on a real vacation 

I wanted a graduation vacation, but the timeline just did not line up, especially with my boyfriend switching jobs. Maybe I can go on a real one this upcoming year, when I have more money and vacation time!

Run a 10K

See notes for 5K.

Go hiking ✔️

Well I went on a hike in the snow in New York, and found a place here in Durham where I lost cell phone service. I know I will do a lot more hiking this upcoming year though, especially being in Durham and with my new eno that Sean got me for my birthday!

Get a DOG


Read Harry Potter 

I’m on the third book! This will be done by the end of summer!

NACA Nationals Grad Intern 

Man, this was a GREAT experience.

Chattanooga Bucket List 

I didn’t complete my list, but I got a lot done while I was in Chattanooga! I loved my time exploring the city and ate a LOT of yummy food. It was a successful summer.

Make friends at new job

But first, I need a job.

Visit nephews ✔️

I got to see my nephews last summer when I drove through Ohio for a wedding, I spent a week at Disney with them in August, I saw them for another wedding in September, I saw them at Christmas, and then again at my graduation. So while I haven’t made a trip up there, I have been able to see them a bit!

Visit niece ✔️

Okay, so circumstances have changed for my niece since my sister-in-law got sick. But, I have been able to see her quite a bit! I made a trip up to them last summer before I left for Tennessee, then I visited her for her birthday in September. I also saw her at the wedding in September. My boyfriend and I visited in January, right as Stephanie was seeking help for her headaches, and then I spent some time with my niece in February when my sister-in-law was getting treated. Then of course she was at my graduation, and I went up to visit and help out with her again in May while my sister-in-love started chemo again. She’s is very into Princesses and Disney right now, which I love! (I totally got her hooked on Moana– win!)

Go to Little’s Graduation 

I ended up missing her graduation due to helping my sister-in-love out. It was a bummer, but she understood. Plus, I had an extra ΓΦΒ graduation stole I was able to give her for graduation, so that was neat!

See Andrew in California

I haven’t been able to see Andrew is California this year (he’s so far away), but I’m hoping to make it out there at some point to see him and his girlfriend perform! Maybe that trip I’ll also get to go see San Francisco?

Get a new ΓΦΒ volunteer job 

Working on it, since I just recently got to Durham!

Don’t be unhappily single ✔️

Definitely not unhappy and definitely not single.

Learn to cook a new meal ✔️

I’ve learned quite a few, and it’s continuing to grow! Please share recipes if you have any great ones!

Start a blog ✔️

And I’m keeping up with it– bonus points!

Write 23 handwritten notes/letters/cards ✔️

I stopped keeping track, but if you count thank-you cards from job interviews then I DEFINITELY hit it! Besides that, I’m getting better about birthday cards and I wrote a lot of cards to my students, so I’m sure I completed this.

Go a week without complaining 

I never set to do “okay this week I won’t complain.” Not sure if that’s the mentality I want to accomplish this goal, but it still has a good concept!


 – – – – –


Creating my list for this upcoming year gave me the opportunity to really reflect on this past year. Although it ended up being nothing like I thought it would be, it still was a great year. However, it’s funny to reflect on when I actually had control. It reminds me of this graph that I probably remember from somewhere but also just totally made up:

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 7.25.19 PM

Basically, you have four categories. The x-axis is your willingness to take action/control of a situation. This is perceived. The y-axis is the actual ability for us to take control of situations, and this is realistic. When we set goals, we like to set them in all four categories. But sometimes, we let ourselves down by setting unrealistic, unattainable goals. This is why that SMART system for goal-setting is actually pretty handy.

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 7.25.19 PM
You see, we should set our goals in the “purple square“. Something that we can control, so we can take action, as long as we try. These will be successful and attainable goals– though not necessarily implying that it may be easy. (Ex: eating a bowl of cereal because you want cereal or reading books on how to knit because you’ve been wanting to learn how). We feel defeated when we set goals in the “orange square“. Often these goals are unattainable, though through we denial we like to think else wise (Ex: dropping a significant amount of weight before a certain period of time, forcing someone to fall in love with us, wanting a result without wanting the work required, etc). We are smart when we don’t set goals in the “green square“. This is when we often shrug our shoulders with an “oh well” and just hope for the best (think: controlling the weather on an important day). Lastly, though, we have the “evil blue square“. This is where setting goals, making bucket lists, and the like, can literally change your life.

Ah, The evil blue square. Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 4.03.04 PM

Poor guy gets such a bad rep! And although he isn’t evil, sometimes we act like he is. You see, blue square was created for us to want to achieve our goals, reach for our dreams, and make our “what ifs” into reality. Blue square is often forgotten about (probably what made him evil….) because for some weird reason, we like to go for orange square goals and then complain or “well, I tried!” when it doesn’t happen.

Well not anymore.

Find the things in your life that you can control, but you won’t. And these don’t have to be serious. They can be in different categories: professional goals, health fitness and self care, adventures, hobbies or just for funsies, relationships and family, financial, etc. Create your list or goals or dreams based on what you CAN control.

DISCLAIMER: Just because something may not be in the blue square now, doesn’t mean that it can’t be! Think: “I want to be a lawyer.” Okay, for myself, probably more in the green square. I can start studying hard, look up the requirements, get a good score on the LSAT, get into a law school, work my butt off more, and then go for the job. Bad example, because I could never be a lawyer, but you get the point. Just because something is in the green square doesn’t mean it has to stay there.

Don’t just set your goals in the purple square. Although this can be fun and attainable, it’s not really a challenge. Often the purple squares are the decisions we make daily, because they are easy, and often have quick results. But people who live in the purple square aren’t usually challenging themselves. They’re not as adventurous. They’re not going to test the limits and discover new things. But blue square? Aha– that’s where we can make change. And once we start setting our goals in the blue square, we realize how attainable these goals can be, and suddenly he seems more of a friend than a foe.

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 4.06.20 PM
Blue square when you realize that you have a lot more control over factors and events in your life than you think.

Enough of the weird charts and faces, Amanda.

Now that I’ve attempted to explain what is in my head, you can (hopefully, maybe) understand how I looked at this list differently. Setting goals in purple square are easy, and sometimes they’re things I’ve really wanted to do, but a full list of purple square may not bring me the highest level of satisfaction. Setting goals in the orange square is either asking luck to be on my side, or asking disappointment to be in my future. So, I strived for blue square goals. And hopefully, this year, I’ll have a little more success at completing them. (Also, I decided to divide this year’s goals into the categories like I mentioned above, so that’s cool to see the different areas of my life that I’m investing in to change and improve!)


 – – – – –


And now, even though I’m late (again) presenting…

24 Things To Do While 24 (in no particular order)


Professional Goals

Get a job (repeat)

Okay, so this one is a repeat, but it’s definitely going to happen soon! Although I like to {not}humble brag that I was the first one in my cohort to get a job offer, and although I had a lot of success at TPE, I turned down those offers so I could move to North Carolina and be with my boyfriend (see attempt of public justification in this post). And although I got my nannying job the week after my birthday, I still am striving for a job in student affairs. I have a few potentials on the table right now… so with any luck I’ll have an update soon!

Get a new ΓΦΒ Volunteer Job (repeat)

This is contingent on where I end up getting my job, but I definitely want to re-connect with some sisters in the Durham/Raleigh area and hopefully volunteer to help out another chapter!

Get a volunteer position in a professional organization 

NACA, NASPA, AFA… it all depends, again, on my job! (See how important that one is?) I truly value volunteering for professional organizations, and I really think we often discredit how important of a role volunteers play in the ability of these organizations to exist and their success. So, I want to do my part and give back and meet some more awesome colleagues on the way.

Health, Fitness, and Self Care

Run a 5k (repeat)

I was in a boot last July and, alas, I am in a boot this July too. But, real running and training and prioritizing my health– coming soon!

Run a 10k (repeat)

I had a talk with my partner about whether I wanted to include 5k and 10K, since, obviously, I have to run a 5k in order to run a 10k. But I decided I wanted to list them separately for two reasons:
1) Celebrate each success. I don’t want to discredit my ability to run a 5k. That is a huge accomplishment for me (or hopefully will be), and I don’t want to belittle that.
2) If I end up not running a 10k, for whatever reason, I don’t want to feel like I didn’t achieve my goal. You can only work up to large goals by accomplishing every small goal on your way. No one just got something big without the hard work to lead up to that. So that’s what I am going to do.

Sort through that pile of old stuff and either use it or get rid of it

We all have that space that we store “the stuff.” You know exactly what I mean– it’s the stuff that you don’t use, but you won’t get rid of. Sometimes it’s a drawer, sometimes it’s a closet shelf, or *cough in my case cough* the entire closet. I want to sort through it all. Here’s the deal– I either have 14 days to use it, or it gets thrown away/donated. Finally doing it.

Try Whole30. Do Whole30. Complete Whole30.

If this takes 3 separates tries, then so be it! Some of the best results come from the success of the biggest challenges.



Go on a real vacation (repeat)

Maybe with a steady income I can finally accomplish this one? My partner and I are fantastic at creating our own adventures, especially at low to no cost (new blog idea?), and we always make traveling for a wedding/similar event it’s own mini-vacay. But I want a real vacation that isn’t a mini vacay, and that isn’t some tangent of another event.

100 miles of hiking

Once my foot is fully healed (or I get too stir crazy and impatient), I want to go hiking some more. I had the great idea of tracking our last hike with my FitBit, and even though it died towards the end (learning lesson: charge your FitBit before you go hiking), I know we clocked at least 4.5 miles! That means if I go hiking at least twice a month, I’ll easily accomplish that! Here’s to hoping I actually remember to track it…

Watch a sunrise in a new/unusual place

…And this place cannot count as my bed or from an airport/plane. Like set an alarm, intentionally go somewhere, and watch the sunrise. (Then follow up with coffee and/or brunch? Mmmmmmmm–)

Do something that scares me

I am putting my partner in charge of this one (thanks dear!) I purposely want to keep this one vague, because deciding what I will do sort of defeats the point, right? So really, this is good for one “you-are-going-to-do-it-because-you-said-you-would-even-though-it-scares-you” card for my boyfriend. Sean, use it wisely (and kindly, please!)

Explore a new city with no phone, no internet maps, just a normal camera and my best friend

TL;DR : Just a paper map and my boyfriend. Let’s find a good restaurant without checking Yelp reviews.


Hobbies/ Just For Funsies

Read 23 Books –> Read a book a month (12 total)

So I have changed this one a few times. Last year, I said “read 23 books.” Again, a good goal, but more in the blue square green square gray area. Between graduate school readings *shudders with fear* and prepping for interviews, I suppose this one was attainable, but not highly realistic. I definitely want to increase how much I read, which was the point of this to begin with, so I changed it to reading a book a month. Since we all know life has busy seasons and slower seasons, I wanted to cheat my own rule a little bit and make sure it is something I can actually accomplish: 12 books before my next birthday. I don’t want to count the 7 Harry Potter books (see below) since that’s kinda cheating to my own game, and reading 12 is a lot more of a challenge than reading 5. Here’s to more reading!

Read all 7 Harry Potter books (repeat)

This one I’m actually making progress on! Like I said, I’m already on the third book (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). My partner and I are doing our own mini book club, and it’s honestly even better than I imagined! I definitely recommend this idea to other couples. It’s a great way for us to bond and talk, and it definitely fuels his passion too (he’s quite the HP fan, if you didn’t know.)

Get a photography gig

I really, really love photography, and used to actually keep up with my camera and my skills. Over time, as life took over, my camera slowly retired to my closet and rarely ever came out. However, every time I pick it up, I remember how much joy it brings me. I want to continue learning and becoming a better photography, and hopefully get to the point (again) where I can be paid for a photography gig!

Get paid for my blog

I’ve definitely been growing my blog, and I want to continue that growth. I have thoughts and ideas daily of how to grow it, how to challenge myself, what I want it to be, what sort of brand I want to take on, and how I can use my jumbled thoughts and attempt at wittiness to produce a real and raw blog that can somehow help others! Until I can get to the point of being paid (whether it’s through ads or because someone thinks that my awkwardness through text on a screen somehow attracts others), I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and that brings me enough joy!

Hit a new record on my blog views

As a tangent of my goal above, I would love to hit a new record on my blog views. This can happen most likely through two ways: 1) a viral post or 2) my blog grows significantly in popularity. To be honest, both of them seem to be in the orange square right now, but I think I have a few different methods to continue growing it into something else that maybe, one day, a stranger (meaning someone who doesn’t have a direct relationship to me) will read! *pulls out party hat and kazoo*

Blog once a week

I know I will fail at this, because, well, life. But just because I know I won’t always be perfect at my goal doesn’t mean I won’t set it. You can’t make something a habit by doing it once. And you also can’t have success if you’re not willing to try, and fail, and try again. Is success without failure really a success?

Learn calligraphy

This is just something that seems really cool, that I would love to do. I don’t have to master it, but I’m sure that some online tutorials and/or some books could make this one a reality!



Get a dog (repeat)

Darn financials play a part in this, but this is for sure going to happen. It’s just a matter of timing.

Volunteer for charity/organization

This one is inspired by my partner, who really wants to get involved and give back to the community. If Durham is a place where I want to be established for a while, what a better way to feel connected to the city than through volunteering!

Plan a date day

This one is a good investment for myself to take control (I’m usually horribly and painfully indecisive) and also reminds me to invest in my relationship. The entire day, from setting an alarm and waking up until we fall asleep, will be planned by yours truly. Just like how I need to invest in myself and take time for myself, I also need to invest in my relationship and take time to grow it, too. Because relationships are fun and cool and the best thing ever, but that doesn’t come without a price.

Host a killer dinner party

Step 1: Make friends in Durham (side blog idea: how are you supposed to do this as an adult?! Where’s my class? Where’s my residence hall LLC? Where’s my cohort? HOW DO YOU MAKE FRIENDS WITHOUT CRAYONS TO SHARE?!) 

Step 2: Get out all those games and cups I swear I’ll use “when entertaining” that just usually sit and collect dust

Step 3: Get on Pinterst and find some cute, fun recipes that I’ve always wanted to make but never had a reason to

Step 4: Set a date and time and invite friends

Step 5: Cook, eat, drink, socialize, and be merry

Step 6: Don’t scare away guests through overexcitement like Marshall and Lily (click here if you don’t get my HIMYM reference)



Pay an extra car payment

I think over the course of a year, trying to save up for one extra car payment is definitely feasible and smart. No one ever said that developing good savings and financial habits as a young adult was a bad idea. Plus, I may realize that it’s actually easier than I thought!



Phew, okay. Wow.

Lots of goals. Lots of squares. Lots of writing.

I better get off my computer and start working on some of them!

That’s all for today, folks.


XOXOXO, amandarae

quote of the day: “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho

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