40 Before 40 – A Bucketlist

by Mike Still
40 Before 40 – A Bucketlist

5 years ago I turned the perfect age of 25 and wrote myself a bucket list that I dubbed 30 before 30.  On January 15th 2016 I celebrated my dirty 30 with my girlfriend & family in the Philippines!  I knocked off 24 out of 30 and had the time of my life doing so.  (Scroll down for that list)  This bucket list was an incredibly rewarding experience and I’ve amazed myself with what I was able to accomplish.  In order to keep challenging myself to live an amazing life I made a new 40 before 40 bucket list!

40 Before 40

  1. Live & work in a new city – So far I’ve lived in New Jersey (near NYC), Boston and Seoul.  I’m not sure if another country is in the cards but I’d like to explore a new city for sure.
  2. Become proficient in another language – This was a goal for 30 before 30 and I am proud of my Korean language skills.  My conversations are basic and I often blush when the locals tell me how good my Korean is since I still don’t feel that way but I’ve found a new apartment, bought a new phone & contract and can order food using Korean.  Now I’d like to learn another language that is a bit more practical than Korean.  Perhaps Spanish or German
  3. Publish a book – 30 before 30 had “publish something” on it and I crossed that one off with some of my more popular articles on my blog but now I really want to focus on writing a book.  I’ve got 3 drafts started and secretly chose the one I want to focus on.  Time to get writing!
  4. Volunteer in a 3rd world country – I did this in my 20’s and want to do it again in my 30’s.  Enough said
  5. Visit 10 new countries – A lofty goal but I think I can make this one a reality too.  When I say visit I mean more than just an overnight passing through.  I want to meet some locals, taste the food and get a feel for the culture in each new country
  6. Go on a long term backpacking adventure – I am in the planning stages for my post-Korea backpacking trip and hoping to spend 6-9 months backpacking through SouthEast Asia.  Its sure to be one hell of an adventure and the experience of a lifetime!
  7. See the Olympics in person!  This is another carry over from 30 before 30.  It’ll be tough to accomplish but I think I can do it!
  8. Sell my photography – Either as a licensed work or a framed print I’d love to sell my photos!   At the moment I still consider myself an amateur photographer.  Recently I had some photos exhibited in a  museum and am gaining more recognition but it would be great to sell something greater than a few post cards
  9. Host a gallery show for my work – This is a bit of a tough one but I’m thinking that whenever I move back to America I want to have an exhibit about all my travels.  Perhaps I’ll even have one before leaving Korea!
  10. See Mount Everest – I’ve toyed with the idea of climbing Everest and don’t think that’s in my future.   Maybe I’ll head up to base camp 2 or 3 or perhaps I’ll trek around Everest to get better views of the mountain but before I turn 40 I want to get into the Himalayas and experience this natural beauty
  11. Visit a new continent – So far I’ve lived in North America & Asia; I’ve visited Europe leaving Australia, Africa, Antarctica and South America.
  12. Dive with whale sharks – This one feels like cheating since I’ve already got plans to do it for my 30th birthday but it’s definitely a bucket list item for me!
  13. Advanced Open Water Certification – My 30 before 30 had SCUBA diving on it and now that I’ve been a handful of times I’m hooked.  Next step is advanced open water which paves the way for underwater photography, cave & wreck diving!
  14. See the Taj Majal – This ivory mausoleum has been  on my mind since I first learned about it (probably by playing Civilization 2)  
  15. Own property – simple enough but not so easy…
  16. Become Debt Free – This is a leftover from my 30 before 30 and I’m getting close to finally paying off all my student loans!  (disclaimer: mortgage doesn’t count)
  17. Finish my masters degree – Another leftover but I just started my masters in International Education during the fall of 2015.  Its scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016 which means 2016 is going to be a tough year!
  18. See the Great Wall of China
  19. Climb Mt. Fuji OR Mt. Kilamanjaro – I toyed with the idea of making this two separate items but decided that they are radical enough that I’ll be happy as long as I summit one of these beasts.
  20. Spend a week (or more) in the backcountry – I got my first real taste of back country backpacking before coming to Korea.  Although I’ve been hiking like crazy here nothing compares to that feeling of being the only human being within miles
  21. Photograph the Milky Way Galaxy
  22. See a meteor shower
  23. Marriage – This is a weird one to put down.  I’ve always believed in the philosophy that you shouldn’t force marriage.  When the time is right it will be the right time so I hate to give myself this kind of deadline but at the same point if I’m not married by the time I’m 40 that could be a little worrisome.
  24. Start a family – My parents had me in their mid-late 30’s.  I hope to have kids around the same time they did.
  25. Long distance bike tour – In the past I’ve thought about biking Taiwan and some Korean islands.  This trip doesn’t have to be on an island but I’d like to spend about a week on 2 wheels.  2 wheels without an engine!
  26. Long distance motorbike tour – piggy backing on #25 and getting nostalgic about the Mae Hong Son Loop I’d like to spend a week on 2 wheels with an engine too!
  27. Do a handstand push up
  28. Restructure www.LiveTravelTeach.com – My last list motivated me to make my blog but now that I’ve got over 300 posts its time to restructure the website.  I want to keep the blog but turn the main site into a more useful page.  This means updating a lot of the older posts to make them useful to a traveler.  I also want to add a section about my photography & have some other ideas.  It’s a big task and if need be I’ll get help to do it but Live, Travel, Teach will become a resource instead of just a personal story
  29. Travel somewhere with Ben – Last time I had a similar goal and Ben (my brother) joined me in Korea for a great adventure.  Unfortunately that was because I couldn’t join him in the Amazon like we’d originally planned because I took the job here.  I’m not counting the Philippines for this one.  My brother and I must plan some other adventure and go explore the world together for me to cross this one off!
  30. Reach 10,000 combined followers – This could be tough to get but I want to have a strong social follower base, partly for my blog and personal reasons, partly for professional reasons as a photographer and future author and partly just for fun.  (This is a combined total of all my social media, right now I’m at under 3,000)
  31. Take a long term sailing/boating trip – This doesn’t have to be a massive cruise and in fact I’d prefer if it were a smaller boat.  I have minimal sailing experience but would love to live on a boat for a week or more (preferably in the tropics)
  32. Spend a month on a beach – relaxation is a necessary part of life and what better place to relax than on a tropical beach.  At some point in the next 10 years I’d like to spend 30 days waking up within walking distance to a beach.  With any luck I’ll be able to get a big jump on my website or book during this zenful period
  33. Do a temple stay
  34. Learn to meditate – I started meditating for 5 minutes everyday with the Evolve Challenge 3.0.  Turns out it’s been a great way to manage my sleep pattern and help me fall asleep but I think that meditation can help me in other ways.  I don’t need to experience a new level of consciousness but I’d like to be able to meditate with minimal assistance.
  35. Start a school where it’s needed the most– This is a tough one and I’ve been thinking about it ever since I went to Son Doong.  I think it would be incredible to start a school in Vietnam or some other impoverished country.  Hopefully I can do it on one of my many backpacking trips and I’ve already spoken to some of the people in a tiny jungle village called Phong Nha who are teaching out of a church.  It would be wonderful to help use my education to help spread education to the places that need it the most.
  36. Stand up on a surfboard
  37. Ride a hot air balloon
  38. Fly first class for the first time
  39. Go Skydiving
  40. See the Aurora in person (northern OR southern lights count!)

If you liked my 40 before 40 you’ll probably enjoy my blogging friend Stephanie and her husbands very own 40 before 40 too!

Keep reading to see how I did on my 30 before 30

1) Travel to a new continent:
2) Become proficient in a second language:  I’ve bought a new phone, ordered food and found an apartment all using Korean!
3) Visit 10 new countries: Israel, Jordan, Korea, Japan, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan
4) Teach in my own classroom:
5) Design a curriculum for a course:

6) Achieve a net worth of about $75,000:  Not quite yet…
7) Bring my fencing team to a winning record:
8) Qualify my fencing team for state championships:
9) Achieve an A rating in USFA:
10) Compete in a world cup: Didn’t quite make it to the world cup stage but I did compete internationally.  I’m counting it!
11) Complete a long distance race:Korean Spartan Race & NJ Tri Athalon
12) Move out:
13) Publish something: I’ve published over 300 articles on my blog!
14) Finish a Masters degree:  I’ll be done Xmas 2016!
15) See the Olympics in person: Next time!
16) Write a memoir of my life before 30:  Memoir maybe not but I’m counting all of the writing on my blog!
17) Perform on stage:
18) Create a blog:
19) Create a piece of art that I will proudly display in my home: Love having my photos printed 🙂
20) Try something new at least once a year:  Ballroom Dance, Marching Band Instructor, Teaching Special Education, Learning Korean, AcroYoga
21) Climb a mountain:  This seems a bit ironic now haha I lost count at about 20 mountain peaks.
22) Become Debt free:  Almost done with those pesky student loans!
23) Travel somewhere with Ben
24) Volunteer in a 3rd world country
25) Work in a foreign country
26) Try SCUBA diving:
27) Learn to dance
28) Visit Ben abroad: N/A since he’s living in Texas full-time
29) Go on Birthright
30) Teach high school:  Fell in love with my elementary kiddos instead


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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded www.LiveTravelTeach.com as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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Molly January 18, 2016 - 10:49 pm

Wow, Mike! This is really inspiring. Great job with your 30 list, and good luck with the 40- though you probably won’t need luck 🙂

mike.j.still@gmail.com January 19, 2016 - 10:44 am

Thanks Molly! I hope I can have as many adventures as in my 40′ as I did in my 30’s 🙂

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Steph Dorworth August 24, 2017 - 4:15 am

#32 month on a beach- ditto! Good idea. That would be the definition of relaxation.

Mike Still August 25, 2017 - 9:17 pm

I’ve gotten a week in but still have to bump that up to a full month!


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