Help me think of new things to try!

new things 2

If you’ve been reading Yes & Yes for long, you’ve probably noticed the frequently changing, occasionally updated list over in the sidebar. Each year around my birthday, I make a list of new things I want to try and then (with varying degrees of success) I try those things and write about them.

And while I rarely check everything off my list in a given year, it’s a really, really great way to live my life on purpose. It gives structure to my free time and really forces me outside of my comfort zone. It strengthens my friendships and makes lifelong memories. It helps me find new things to love (and confirm that no, I never need to drink blowfish sake again. Not that I thought I would.)

It can be oddly hard to think of new things to try! Like, I find myself googling other people’s bucket lists. I like to aim for new things that are relatively cheap (usually under $100) or somewhat easy (don’t require months of preparation.)

Like the deeply Type A human I am, I find it’s easier to think of new things if I give my list a bit of structure.

Books + Movies
* Read Lolita (some very lively comments on that post)
* Watch Casablanca
* Watch The Godfather
* Read Catch 22 (which I JUST HATED SO MUCH)

Acts Of Physical Prowess <– sarcasm
* Run a 5k
* Shoot a bow
* Take a trapeze class (!!!)
* Take a belly dancing class

* Try Bibimbap
* Try miracle berries
* Make cheese
* Bake bread

Personal challenges
* Learn to walk in wedges and wear them every day for a week
* Go raw for a week (spoiler alert: I failed)
* Do a five-day cleanse (haaaaated it)
* Do a polar plunge (yes! I even did it again the next year!)

Totally Mundane Things Everyone Else Has Done
* Take a historical tour of my neighborhood
Eat dim sum
Go to a batting cage
* Put a significant amount of money into a Roth IRA

new-things 3
Last year’s list was particularly unchecked (mostly because I was moving, getting married, road tripping for 6 weeks and backing out of a book deal) but this year will be better! More new things! More checkmarks!

But I need your help. What other new things should I try?

So far, here’s what’s on my list for this year:

  1. Take an adult ballet class (those Barre fitness classes don’t count!)
  2. Go to a nudist beach or resort
  3. Go carless for one week (this makes me oddly nervous)
  4. Drive a jet ski
  5. Go storm chasing (my husband is a meteorologist storm chaser!)
  6. Take an overnight bike trip
  7. Take a sailing class
  8. Stay overnight on a houseboat
  9. Make kombucha from scratch
  10. Watch The Sandlot
  11. Read East of Eden
  12. Visit the Wabasha Street Caves
  13. Harvest some wild mushrooms
  14. Make (or attempt) a pavlova
  15. Go to a trampoline park
  16. Try paddleboarding (IT JUST SEEMS SO BORING)
  17. Take a burlesque class
  18. Attempt contouring makeup
  19. Let someone do energy work on me
  20. ..
  21. ..
  22. ..
  23. ..
  24. ..
  25. ..

I like to leave a few of these open – just to see what weird opportunities life presents – but I’d love to hear your suggestions!

What other new things should I try? And do you have an on-going list? I so, SO recommend it!

Welcome to Yes & Yes!

Want to spend your time, money, and energy on purpose? I'll show you how.

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  1. Katie

    YES to the adult ballet class! Though, as a former ballerina, I’m 100% biased. It’s definitely worth trying though. I miss it so much.

  2. Jen

    I love Stand Up Paddleboarding! Go with a friend and just paddle and chat. It’s so relaxing and fun. SUP Yoga is more challenging but also fun, unless your board has stinky water on it and then the laying down poses are less fun 🙂 If you haven’t been in a hot air balloon, I’d also recommend that.

  3. Sarah M

    I think your list is better than anything big I could come up with. I tried paddleboarding this year.. SO. FREAKING. HARD. It’s just the tippy/balance motion that requires standing that makes it hard. Everyone who does it up here (and with dogs on their boards, too!) make it look easy.
    East of Eden….had to read that in highschool. Sooo boring (hated Catch 22 as well!). I must look up what a trampoline park is, though, I haven’t heard of that before!

    Sarah M

  4. Kate

    Have you ever been to a youth poetry slam? This was a random thing I did with a teacher friend of mine and I’m so glad I went; the poets were amazing performers and you can just see how much they love it. This is the group that organizes the events:

  5. Carly

    I did this for a few years, inspired by you. But I ran out of things to put on the list. Like, if I actually wanted to see Gone with the Wind, I would have done so by now. I did finally go to the Tenement Museum last year, years after it was on my list. And I’d recommend using a new power tool as a fun thing for the list. But reading Dune didn’t change my life one way or the other.

  6. Martinalynne

    This is great! This past year, I was inspired by years of reading your lists and finally made one of my own. I’d wanted to try it for a while, but I was a PhD student and just never felt like I had enough time. But then this year, I realized: it’s my last year as a student, and I have no idea how to do anything other than “be a student.” So my new things were really about figuring out what I actually enjoy doing and learning how to build a life outside of academia. So worth it!

    Here are a few things from my list that I loved:
    – take a curling lesson
    – go geocaching
    – invent recipes for (and then make and taste-test, obviously) homemade liqueurs
    – actually figure out how to decipher my healthcare benefits package (it turned out that I could have been getting monthly massages all along!)
    – go see an outdoor movie in the summer
    – take a distillery tour
    – volunteer at a charity event

    Can’t wait to see your new list!

  7. Cailee

    Trying a burlesque class was on my bucket list last year, and guess what, now I perform regularly! It’s so fun, and positive, and badass, I love it. You also meet so many amazing women (and some men too!), it’s a great community.

    I also loved East of Eden, it’s one of my favorite books.

    Here are some of my bucket list items from this year (that I haven’t done yet!):
    -Get up at 6:00 am everyday for a week (or equally absurdly early hour based on your schedule, I’m not a morning person at all)
    -Plant an herb garden
    -Read Sophie’s Choice
    -Take a Bikram/hot yoga class
    -Learn to play a song on the banjo

  8. Lauren

    It’s always tricky coming up with new things, but I love that you do this! Some ideas:
    -Axe-throwing (it’s become quite popular in Ontario, and places are popping up all over. The place I go to is called BATL. My boyfriend and I enjoyed it so much we joined a league!)
    -Bake bread
    -Attend a Highland Games
    -Write a letter of recommendation for someone
    -See all the best picture oscar nominees
    -Become a regular at a favourite local cafe/bar/restaurant

    Also, I second the trampoline park one! We went once with work, as a big group. So fun! We spent most of our time playing dodgeball.

  9. lindsay

    i loved taking adult ballet classes once i found a studio whose adult beginner classes were full of ACTUAL adult beginners/adults who hadn’t danced in 10+ years like myself, and not off-duty-professional-broadway-actors-who-are-intimidatingly-talented. this is probably less of a problem outside of NYC!

    stand-up paddling (aka “SUP” which i cannot bring myself to say, nor type, with a straight face) was surprisingly hard! but i was also on the hudson river along with a zillion big boats. it would be better on a calm lake.

    have you tried making fresh pasta before? it’s pretty easy and of course, delicious.

  10. Erin

    If you’ve never tried Geocaching, I highly recommend it! It makes a great partner to roadtripping 🙂

  11. Bianca Lucine

    Adult ballet classes?? Do they really exist? Sign me in!

    As for suggestions… what about LARPing? Some of them don’t even require massive crafting (and there is always the good, old foam if you want to make some gear), so you can definitely find one that won’t take your whole budget:)

  12. Savannah

    Going off of the LARPing suggestion, i wonder if going to some sort of festival or convention (for something that you’re maybe SUPER not into but are interested in seeing the fandom converge in “real life” – respectfully, of course) would be interesting. The first thing that came to mind actually was a rockabilly convention (you could get all dolled up with red lips and victory rolls!), but there is also stuff like Comic-Con, anime conventions, Trekkie conventions, My Little Pony conventions…

  13. Ellie

    I love this idea so much. It was my birthday yesterday so I’m going to write a list tonight!
    I’ve been thinking a lot recently about ‘the future’ and the things I want to go do and experience, your method of living your life on purpose just make so’s much sense. I already keep a lot of lists of things like films I want to see and books to read, and a ‘before I’m 30’ list.
    On my list this year I’m going to put take a yoga class, make a piece of clothing I can actually wear, go back to my university town for a trip, watch Thelma and Louise, read The Catcher in the Rye.

    A seriously cool book you should read is S by Doug Dorst and J J Abrams, it’s a regular novel but with a lot of comments in the margins, forming their own but connected story!

  14. Manisha

    I love this about you! I have my own life list but reading about your new things list helped me organize my own list into manageable chunks. Thinking about what you do made my list take on fresh life. Here are some suggestions:
    Drive all the way around Lake Superior
    Visit the Vince Shutte Bear Sanctuary (awesome in the Fall)
    Go on a Jeep ride
    Attend a rodeo
    Taste a set number of different apples (my goal is 100)

    I love reading about your list. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    P.S. I had some trouble posting a comment so I apologize if there are multiple postings.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oooh! Driving all the way around Superior – that’d be awesome!

      • Anonymous

        I love the drive around Lake Superior! How about acupuncture?

        • Anonymous

          oh and do a ChalkTheWalk — where you leave messages on the sidewalk. (google it)

  15. renee

    Participate in a Moth Story Slam! They do it about once a month at Amsterdam bar in downtown St Paul. Check out / even if you don’t tell a story, you’ll get to hear others. It’s fun and fascinating. Happy Birthday and Happy New Marriage!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Fun! I’ve always wanted to go!

  16. Katie b

    I posted earlier but it didn’t seem to go through.
    have you checked out lots of ideas there.

    alongside geocaching, adult scavenger hunts are fun. some towns/areas have these.
    learn flamenco
    see the northern lights

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oh, I’ve never heard of dayzero! I’ll check it out!

  17. It's Jess!

    i tried to do birthday lists but I never succeeded. I’ve tried switching to seasonal goals because it’s easier for me to keep focus.

    My recommendations: take an improv class a lot of time theaters will have free ones (or at least check out a show.

    Attend a roller derby bout ( or if you’re feeling brave go to one of their try it out nights of they have one)

    Create your own official signature cocktail

    Excited to read about all your updates as you tackle these new goals!

  18. Katherine

    Love your list so far! Here are some other ideas:

    – Spend a week using one of those apps that ruthlessly cuts down the amount of time you’re able to spend on social networking sites

    – Spend a week wearing a different hairstyle each day

    – Throw a theme food potluck party. So if the theme is “pear” everyone has to bring a dish (appetizer, entree, dessert, etc.) that has pears in it.

    Have fun!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      We’re going to throw a Hannukah party (my husband’s Jewish) in the theme of ‘oil’ and everyone has to bring a fried food! (I’m serious.)

  19. zoe

    visit a professional tarot reader (or visit a professional psychic, whatever, but as a tarot reader I like tarot best, or I guess learn to read tarot a little bit if you want, its not too hard)
    if you havent already, visit every state.
    read the god of small things
    learn to cook your favorite place-specific street food
    attend a school play/musical/concert where you dont know any of the kids (I do this sometimes and its more fun than you would expect.)
    watch into eternity (a documentary about the storage of nuclear waste)

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I love ‘The God Of Small Things’ – one of my favorite books!

  20. Jennifer

    I make a list every year but usually only get about half of the items accomplished. I just got back from swimming with the whale sharks in Mexico. Other things on my list :

    stay in a Fernwood adventure tent one night
    try standup paddleboarding
    go to the shooting range/learn to shoot a gun
    have breakfast at Deetjen’s in Big Sur

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      How fun! Where in Mexico you swim with whale sharks?!

  21. Kelly

    I love your birthday lists! I try to get out of my ruts on the reg, but my non-conformist streak cringes at the thought of making a list a whole year in a advance. I do much better with open-ended, ever-expanding lists. Recent things I’ve done, or things I want to try:

    –take an aerial yoga class, or an aerial acrobatics class (I loved the yoga, and climbed a silk to the 20-foot ceiling after just a few acrobatics courses!)
    –only read books by women or authors of color or international authors (or some other group underrepresented in my reading list) for a set period of time
    –learn to change my car’s oil
    –for a week, use a non-phone alarm in the morning and don’t look at the internet for a few hours after waking up
    –take a drawing/painting class
    –sew a garment by hand (or machine) that I actually want to wear
    –window herb garden!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes on the sewing!

  22. Rachael

    Great list!! I love reading the new things you do every year. Living your life on purpose… it’s just the best, right?!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      It really is! (And it’s suprisingly hard sometimes!)

  23. Jen

    Love this idea!
    I think axe-throwing is a great suggestion. I would also highly recommend learning to knit – such a great way to multi-task while watching movies etc. I’ve also had a goal to watch all of the movies nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars each year, but I’ve never actually made it happen. And in the random-acts-of-kindness category, what about sending flowers to each of your close girlfriends, “just because”!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Love the flower idea!

  24. MM

    You should come to Springfield, MO and check a few things off your list! Stockton Lake (nearby in Stockton, MO) is home to a top-ranked sailing school that specializes in private lessons for individuals and small groups. Springfield has a trampoline park that looks like it could provide loads of fun. And for my suggestion… One of the things towards the top of my birthday list is to check out (and escape!) one of the mystery game rooms at Clue Pursuit.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Fun! I’ve always wanted to visit one of those game rooms!

  25. zoe

    YES to making a pavlova, it is pretty much the best summer dessert ever. Ignore people who carry on as if you have to make it under near-laboratory conditions for the meringue to work out, it’s actually totally straightforward 🙂

    How about watching the sunrise every morning for a week (or month, or..?) – depending on time of year this could be easy or hard!
    Have you ever called a politician to tell them your views on an issue?
    Or attended a protest march?
    You could set some kind of weightlifting goal?
    Host a dinner party for N people, where N is whatever number you think is slightly insane to be hosting all at the same time? (Serve them pavlova and you’ve got a two-for-one!)

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oh, that’s good to hear, Zoe! I was already feeling intimidated by the thought of all that egg white whipping!

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I’ve been to the old one and loved it – can’t wait to visit the new one!

  26. Melanie Kristy

    Hi Sarah, I’ve always loved your lists, and I can imagine how it would become difficult overtime to think of more things to do. Here are some suggestions!
    Go to A Renaissance festival (dressed up, of course!)
    Go to Sleep No More in NYC (
    Learn to knit of crochet
    Write a novel (or a short story!)
    Have you read Harry Potter? Because if not, those books ought to be on your list, too. Then you can add Go to Hogwarts.
    Spend a day as a human statue
    read Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
    see a psychic medium
    learn a new language

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      I’ve been to Sleep No More and it was amaaaaazing! One of my favorite experiences!

  27. Kat

    I love that going carless for a week is more scary than going to a nudist beach. What about…. canning fruits/veggies? Making your own beauty products (shampoo, deodorant), going to a music festival that has a mosh pit?

  28. Karina

    this is such a cool idea! I was just thinking yesterday about how to incorporate “new” things in life to look forward to. I refuse to have a year seem like the last so the past few years, I’ve tried either going to a new place or doing something I’ve always wanted(yoga, was one last year). I think a burlesque class would be fun and different. Enjoy reading your blog!

  29. siiri

    I read that you’re going to go _careless_ for one week. I think that could be worth to try as well.

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