31 Before I Turn 31

Posted: July 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

This is my seventh year of making one of these goal lists. As in previous years, I’ve chosen goals without any real consideration of how I’ll accomplish them.

1. Less Than 500 ‘Strikes’ (Junk Food = 1, Healthy Fast Food = 1/2)
2. 1500 Servings Vegetables
3. 1000 Servings Fruit
4. 200 Days Meditation (10 Minutes Minimum)


5. Two Ultra-Endurance Events
6. Qualify For Ironman World Championships (70.3 or 140.6)
7. Wabash Trace Fastest Know Time
8. Qualify For Boston Marathon
9. 1,000 Hours of Exercise
10. Sub 6 Minute Beer Mile

Lethal Engineering / Lethal Tri

11. Join Artisan’s Asylum and Go 10 Times
12. 10 Lethal Engineering Videos
13. 10 Lethal Tri Videos (about my goals)
14. 25 Blog Posts


15. $1M Revenue
16. Setup SIMPLE IRA For Business
17. 10 Hours Productive Time for 200 Days
18. 100 Days No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix
19. 48 Weeks Commitment Contract
20. Develop A Plan For Each Goal


21. Complete Raspberry Pi (using Python) Book
22. Mountain Bike 100 Miles
23. Complete SCUBA Diving Course


24. See Falcon Heavy Launch
25. Go To Two of Four Boston Sports (Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, Celtics)
26. See an F1 Race
27. Bike To Walden Pond


28. Donate 10% of Income (post tax)
29. Walk Zucc 1 Mile For 200 Days
30. Hold Breath For 2 Minutes
31. 10 Escape Rooms

30 Before 30 – Results

Posted: June 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

A year ago, I created 30 goals to complete before I turned 30. Last year, I completed 16 of 29 goals, and decided to make them more difficult this year.

All the completed goals have hyperlinks to full blog posts.


#5 One Ultra Endurance Event
I participated in the Washington Island Ultra in July, completing 4.25 miles of swimming, 170 miles of cycling, and 34 miles of running in 24 hours. Apparently I’ve quickly forgotten how painful and physically draining this race was because I’ve signed up for it again.


#9 Build Buff Dudes DIY Power Rack
I completed this goal early on, but rarely used the power rack after building it. I really needed an accompanying lifting goal, as the purpose was to gain muscle mass, not just workout equipment.

#11 Join Milwaukee Makerspace
Another completed goal that missed the purpose. I joined, went twice to learn two pieces of equipment, but then stopped going. I wanted to meet new makers and utilize new tools, and the goal should have been more reflective of that purpose.

#19 Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Thanks again to my friends Mike and Sarah for planning and inviting me along on this adventure. I felt like the final push to the summit was equivalent to running a marathon and provided that same exhilarating feeling of success. That said, I have no desire to do any more of the seven summits. One and done.


#20 Build > 1,000 Piece LEGO Set
This was more enjoyable than anticipated. It was very relaxing to follow the set of instructions for a couple of hours and end up with such an intricate model.


#23 Go To Packer’s Game at Lambeau Field
I went to two games this year, one with my Little Brother and one with Alexis. It’s such a cool stadium, especially at night. Great history and architecture.



#25 Donate $5,000 to Charity
I didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling that you usually associate with helping others, I just felt $5k poorer. It felt like eating vegetables. I know I should be doing this, but I don’t want to do it.

#27 Wake Up Before 4:30 A.M. For a Month Straight
This was a struggle. I implemented a one hour midday nap to ensure I was getting an adequate amount of sleep. Getting required tasks done early in the day felt great. A consistent sleep schedule would be a good goal for next year.


#29 No News/Social Media/YouTube/Netflix For A Month
It was strange being disconnected for a month, as if the mute button had been pressed. The world seemed far less frantic. This goal was really good for focus.

#30 Track Time by the Minute and Happiness Every Couple of Hours for a Month
By tracking my time, I realized exactly how much of it I waste in a day — an amount I’m embarrassed to even post. I’ve continued to track my time by the minute and use it as a measure of productivity. By tracking happiness, I realized that exercise, being productive, and spending time with friends and family all bring me joy.


Partial Completion

#1 200 Days No Added Sugar: 26/200 = 13%
#2 500 Home Cooked Meals: 320/500 = 64%
#3 No Fast Food for 200 Days: 46/200 = 23%
#4 Eat Four Servings of Vegetable for 200 Days: 84/200 = 42%

I regressed on the healthy eating goals from the previous year. Eating junk food is a tough habit for me to break. This is an area where I really need penalties in order to force compliance.

#12 20 Lethal Engineering Videos: 7/20 = 35%
#13 10 Lethal Tri Videos (about my goals): 2/10 = 20%
#14 25 Blog Posts: 18/25 = 72%

My YouTube channel is now officially monetized again, after crossing the 240,000 watch minutes barrier (within the past year). The 18 blog posts is the most I’ve ever posted in a year. The proposal video on my Lethal Tri channel made my wife very happy.


#16 Daily Planning for 200 Days: 147/200 = 74%
#18 Increase Net Worth to $250k: $127k (from $121k)/$250k) = 5%

I really shit the bed on the savings goal. We spent A LOT of money on travel and didn’t increase income to balance it out.

#26 Volunteer 100 Hours: 94/100 = 94%
#28 Clean House (Vacuum/Organize/Wipe Surfaces 50 Times): 30/50 = 60%

All of my volunteering was through Big Brothers Big Sisters. Fortunately, my Little Brother has similar interests to me. First picture below is from a WWE event. Second is hiking in the woods.



I’m not sure where my exercise totals should be, but I like tracking it year over year:

Bike: 948 Miles (29B29: 5,000 Miles, 28B28: 1941 Miles, 27B27: 1935 Miles, 26B26: 2042 Miles)
Run: 595 Miles (29B29: 437 Miles 28B28: 732.71 Miles, 27B27: 589.57 Miles, 26B26: 654.60 Miles)
Swim: 210,930 Yards (29B29: 209,663 Yards, 28B28: 162,913 Yards, 27B27: 69,311 Yards, 26B26: 154,868 yards

Zero Completion

#6 Qualify for Ironman World Championships (70.3 or 140.6)
#7 Wabash Trace Fastest Known Time
#8 Qualify for Boston Marathon
#10 Build Ultimate Trainer Setup
#15 Obtain Direct Contract With A Class I Railroad
#17 Setup Simple IRA For Business
#21 See Falcon Heavy Launch
#22 Bike Katy Trail
#24 SCUBA (PADI) Certified

The incompletion is not due to lack of interest, but rather lack of discipline. I’m still interested in most of these goals, and will probably role them over to next year.

I almost accomplished #21 minutes before turning 30, but the launch got pushed back three hours. It’ll just have to be put on the 31 Before 31 list, and be the quickest I’ve ever accomplished a goal.


What About Alexis?

She recently completed her third year of surgery residency. It really is an all consuming career. 80-100 hours a week, almost every week, combined with the stress of keeping people alive, doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

Alexis recently got accepted as a fellow for the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change. It’s the same group she worked with when she spent a year in Haiti. She will be doing two years of research with them in Boston, MA (we move next week!). Alexis will also be coming back to Milwaukee one week every month to take call in the Pediatric Surgery Department at the Children’s Hospital. Oh, she’s also going back to school for a Master’s in Public Health through Harvard University. Yeah, I know, buh-nan-uhs.


Alexis visited Ecuador for a conference, went to Haiti for research, and did a month long away rotation in Nepal. We accomplished one of her life long dreams of going to the Women’s World Cup on our vacation to France.





10 full goals completed this year plus 5.02 partial goals equals 15.02 for the year. It’s a strange scoring system, but I knew it would help develop good habits on large goals that I no longer could complete mid-year.

The purpose of these lists is growth, but not a whole lot of growth happened this year. It’s frustrating because I know with a year-round consistent effort I could have accomplished all of these goals. Do I need better discipline? Or should I accept my lack of consistency and just have less goals to focus on?

Three takeaways as I prepare next year’s list:
-Goals should line up with my motivation and true desire
-I need a long term plan, broken up into shorter weekly and daily goals
-Need a weekly commitment contract with penalties for non-compliance.

31 Before 31 List coming next week.

My original goal was to run full marathon. However, my training was sporadic and inconsistent as usual. In the 20 weeks leading up to this race, I had six weeks where I ran zero miles and six weeks over 20 miles. In total, it was the most run volume I’d done in a long time, but I dropped down to the half marathon since I didn’t want to risk injury (my longest training run was 13 miles). My goal for the race was to improve upon the 1:50:15 I ran in Sioux Falls Half Marathon in September 2018.

The day before the race, I met up with my friends Barb, Matt, and Matt’s wife Angie (Matt would be running the full and Barb the half). We did the ‘Fairy Tale Cottage’ escape room at Outfox Escape Rooms. This one was unique in that there wasn’t a code to get out at the end, rather twelve fairy tale items you had to accumulate. This was Angie’s first escape room, and, despite being several months pregnant, she carried the team, finding the most items.


The race day temperature was a perfect 38 degrees. The course consisted of a couple of rolling hills and 550′ of elevation gain per my watch. I had no idea what sort of speed was maintainable given my training, so I started around 8:00 min/mile pace and tried to hold on. Matt was running the full, and the night before we had tried to calculate if he would pass me after the courses merged, given his faster pace and earlier start time. Turns out we met up almost exactly where the two courses merged, Matt 30 yards ahead of me. I tried to catch up with him, but a 7:00 pace is really hauling when you’re struggling to maintain an 8:00 pace.


The second half of the race was painful, but I managed to run an almost perfectly split race, crossing the line in 1:42:29. That’s a 7:49 min/mile pace, and almost 8 minutes faster than my previous half marathon



In the 10 weeks leading up to the race, I counted only a single mile that I ran faster than 7:49 pace, so apparently running slow does allow you to run fast.  This was my second fastest half marathon ever (not that I’ve ever run a fast half marathon). It’s always encouraging to see that when I run a little consistently, I can put up a decent time. Next race will be the Washington Island Ultra, a race I did last year and hope to improve upon.


I accomplished this goal back in August, but didn’t write about it because I sort of side stepped the purpose of it. I joined the Milwaukee Makerspace, got trained on multiple pieces of equipment, and then never went back. I had imagined that I would meet people with similar interests and build cool projects utilizing equipment that I couldn’t afford. Why did I stop going? There aren’t any good reasons but I do have two excuses. The Milwaukee Makerspace is located 20 minutes from my house and I already have most of the tools I need in my current workshop, making it inconvenient to travel to when I could work on most projects at home. Again, those are just excuses.

This is a pretty lame goal post, so let me update you on an exciting development…

We’re moving to Boston! Alexis will be doing a two year research fellowship with the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change through Harvard Medical School. It’s the same organization she worked with when she spent a year in Haiti. She’ll also be pursuing a Master’s in Public Health through Harvard Medical School. In order to get this all funded, she agreed to come back to Milwaukee every month and take call for one week at the Children’s Hospital. We’ve found an apartment and will be moving out to Boston the beginning of July. Our apartment will be tiny (697 sq. feet), so I’ve started investigating Makerspaces in Boston. Artisan’s Asylum seems to fit the bill, and given our small apartment size I will be forced to use it if I want to continue making projects.

Goal #20 on my 30 Before 30 List was to assemble a > 1,000 piece LEGO set. I never played with LEGO growing up, which surprises my fellow engineers as almost all of them loved LEGO.

My interest was sparked when I saw the Saturn V LEGO set my Dad had received from one of his buddies. When did LEGO get so cool? The Saturn V was an incredible engineering achievement, and now LEGO created a miniature brick version! For my 29th birthday, I received the 1969 piece Saturn V LEGO set.

This set was assembled two weeks ago while my father in law was in town. The entire  process was very enjoyable. You follow a set of instructions and end up with a cool model. There was no creativity or original thinking (I was merely an assembly line worker), but I didn’t feel bored or distracted.





This is a hobby I’d like to continue. Some other sets that sparked my interest were the Porsche GT3RS and Star Wars Millennium Falcon. I’d also like to modify my LEGO Saturn V and turn it into an actual rocket. That’d be a sweet Lethal Engineering video, right?

I don’t know who reads this blog, so it’s strange to give recommendations. My assumption, though, is that if you read my blog than you might like other blogs that I like. That’s the transitive property, right?

Here are six recommendations:

Mr Money Mustache
A self improvement blog veiled in frugality and early retirement. Mr. Money Mustache retired at age 30 after a short software engineering career and writes about how you and I can do the same.  Here are some posts to get you started: The 4% Rule, The Simple Math Behind Early Retirement, What is Stoicism, and Happiness Is The Only Logical Pursuit.

Derek Sivers
I first heard of Derek on the Tim Ferriss podcast (here and here). His enthusiasm is infectious. Derek worked as a musician, circus ringmaster, and eventually started and sold a company called CD Baby. His posts are brief and to the point. Here are a couple of gems: Hell Yeah or No, Ideas Are Just A Multiplier, Be An Extreme Character, Be Resourceful, and Actions Reveal Our Values

I don’t know how to describe Tynan. Maybe if the Most Interesting Man in the World was real and wrote a blog. A couple of Tynan’s adventures include buying an island, buying a penguin, becoming a famous pickup artist, writing several books, living in an RV, and that’s just scratching the surface.

John Kelly
A PhD Data scientist, Kona Ironman Qualifier, and one of fifteen Barkley Marathon finishers. John takes a very analytical approach to setting and achieving goals. Some great posts to start with are Goldilocks Difficulty, Failing With A Purpose, and Component Goals.

Tim Ferriss (his old posts)
It seems like Tim is focusing on his podcast and books now, but his old posts are gold. Tim posts are long form, in depth write-ups. I managed to lose 15 pounds in 5 days using this post (not recommended). Some of his popular topics include minimalist travel, language learning, muscle gain, and marketing

My friend Zach! He is currently pursuing a postdoc in math and made his own 30 Before 30 List. His articles in our high school newspaper were always entertaining to read, and that style continues with his blog. Leave him a comment encouraging him to post more frequently!

Phew! I think that’s the most hyperlinks I’ve ever included in a post. I hope you enjoy these recommendations!

I’ve always been skinny. Maybe weak is a better descriptor. I was embarrassed to lift in high school because every member of the girls basketball team could lift more than me. The solution to that problem was obviously NOT to avoid the weight room, but my high school self had a pretty fixed mindset.

I began lifting in college with the tennis team and continued sporadically in the years after I graduated. During that period, about five years ago, I was exposed to GORUCK , completing their challenge event with my friend Matt Brand.


GORUCK offers an even more challenging event called Selection which has a measly 5% completion rate. I wrote about it previously, signed up, and never attempted it after dislocating my shoulder (that was my excuse at least). It’s an extremely demanding event, well above my current ability. In order to complete it, I would need to become much stronger. That’s why I decided to build a power rack.

The power rack allows me to work the big three lifts of bench press, squat, and dead lift. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to weightlifting, but at least now I can embarrass myself in the privacy of my own home. The design for my power rack was based on this YouTube video:

I bought all the necessary supplies at Home Depot for a total cost north of $200. It took around four hours to build. I also cut pieces of plywood to have a wood platform over the carpet.

For weights, I first looked on Craigslist, but was able to find a barbell weight set cheaper online at Wal-Mart (with free shipping!).

I’m pleased with how the power rack turned out, but it is pointless if not used. My plan is to read through Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength to learn proper technique and then develop a weekly strength training regimen. The ultimate goal is to complete GORUCK Selection in the Fall of 2020.

This was the 5th goal I accomplished in a very productive month of August (what a delayed post!). There’s only four months until I turn 30, but if I keep making consistent forward progress, I should accomplish 20 of my goals.