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40 before 40 – my bucket list for the next decade

Updated: 4 days ago

I originally wrote this for another blog I started last year, but I didn’t keep up with it, so I thought I’d share it on my author website instead.

In progress: 4/40

Completed: 2/40

I turned 30 a few months ago and in the lead up to the big day, I’d started thinking about a ‘40 before 40 bucket list’. I love a list and I feel a real sense of achievement when completing goals, no matter how big or small they are. It really helps me to stay motivated in my work life, so I thought I’d see what this special list could help me achieve over the next ten years, both personally and professionally.

Lois aka The Horsey Mama

I also believe in the power of the universe and manifestation. Those who write down goals are 42% more likely to achieve them, so this is my way of attracting great things to my life through manifesting my future.


I’ve tried to balance the list with a variety of ‘very achievable’, ‘probably achievable’ and ‘hopefully achievable’ goals. Some may seem too easy and some may seem absolutely bonkers, but I’m excited to see what happens! They’re also in no particular order – just the order in which I thought of them.

I’ll aim to update this blog every time I achieve something, as well as keeping a tally for those goals with quantitative values. Some items may even get their own blog posts! I’m also splitting them into personal and professional, although there will inevitably be a bit of crossover. I’d love to know if any of these are on your bucket list, or if you have any other ideas I could weave into this list.


1. Get a book deal for Project X

I’ve been working on a written project for the past couple of years and I would absolutely love to get a traditional book deal for it. My children’s books are self-published, but I’d like to go down the traditional publishing route for this one.

2. Sell 100,000 books (2.9%)

To date, I’ve sold around 2,600 books. By the time I hit 40, I’d love to have sold 100,000 books across all my titles, both existing and to be written.

Update (March 2024): 2,899


3. Buy a fancy power suit

I’m not big into fashion and shopping, but I’d love the excuse to buy a power suit. I’m manifesting this to tie in with my book deal so that I could wear it to my book launch.

4. Reach 10 books in the Dave and Darcy series

There are currently six stories and one colouring and activity book.

5. Publish a series of chapter books

This would be for children to progress onto after they’ve read the Dave and Darcy picture books.

6. Write a regular column for a magazine or publication

I’ve written articles for my family’s magazine, but I would like to contribute a regular column to another publication. I’m not sure of the topic at this point in time.

7. Speak at an event at Cheltenham Literature Festival

I’ve applied to the Literature Festival a few times, but as a ‘small-time’, self-published author, I don’t think I get a look-in. Getting a traditional book deal would hopefully give me the opportunity to tick this one off.

8. Go on a writing retreat

Escaping to the countryside with just my laptop and notepads full of ideas for a week would be amazing. Given that we’re starting a family, I may have to settle for a long weekend and it may have to be a bit later down the line, but it would still be a great experience.

9. Start writing a thriller

My favourite book genre is ‘thriller’ so I would love to write my own one day, even if it’s just for me and I don’t seek to get it published.

10. Write a recipe book

I’ve had an idea for a recipe book for a while, so I’d like to see this through one day.

11. Be a guest on a podcast

Again, I’m not sure which topic I’d speak on or which podcast theme would be best, but I’d like to be a guest on one at some point.


12. Buy our dream home with land for Dave to retire

I have always dreamed of having land attached to my home for Dave 🐴 to live at/retire. While our current house is great and will serve us well as a ‘new family’ home for a few years, we ideally would like a bit more space and I would like to move somewhere a bit quieter, perhaps a little further into the countryside.

13. Raise £40,000 for charity

This averages £4,000 per year, which is a big ask, but not impossible. I’ve had ideas for fundraisers since I was at school, so I’d love to see some of them to fruition one day. I’m also going to be donating 10% of the profit from my children’s books to Cotswold Riding for the Disabled, so that will count towards the target. Ultimately, any money raised is positive but I think it’s good to have a target.

14. Go on an African safari

I love animals and I’ve always loved the idea of going on an African safari. I’m not big on travelling – I’m a proper home bird – but this has been a ‘dream holiday’ for many years.

15. Rescue a cat

This is dependent on us finding our dream home in a slightly quieter area, perhaps in the countryside.

16. Rescue a dog

Both Jack and I grew up with dogs, so we’d love to have one of our own one day.

Lois The Horsey Mama and her husband Jack on their wedding day
One of my favourite photos from our wedding in 2022

17. Celebrate 10 years of marriage with Jack

Jack and I got married just before my 29th birthday, so I’ll need to wait a while to tick this one off! It would be great to go on a weekend away just the two of us to celebrate.

18. Start a family

We’re on track with this one, as our first little bundle of joy is due in January 2024! Both Jack and I would like to have two children, so fingers crossed we’re lucky enough to have a second in a couple of years.

Update: we welcomed baby Theo on 21st January 2024 and are totally in love!

19. Read 100 fiction books (6/100)

I think this is a realistic number for me, as I’m about to start a family, which will take up a lot of time, but I’m also a fairly slow reader. When I fall out of a routine of reading it can take me a long time to get back into it, so ten books per year seems doable.

1. Seven Minutes Later by Bonnie Kistler – 6/10

2. Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – 8/10

3. Walking on Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher – 8/10

4. Magpie by Elizabeth Day – 8/10

5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – 9/10

6. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton – 8/10

20. Buy a piano for our dream house and relearn how to play

I played the keyboard and piano when I was younger, and Jack can also play the piano, so I’d love to get one when we buy our dream house and learn to play again. It would also be great to have for our kids to learn.

21. Relearn the French language

I really enjoyed learning languages at school – I studied both French and Russian to A Level. French is more likely to be useful for holidays, so I’d like to relearn it to a conversational level.

22. Create a capsule wardrobe

I hate clothes shopping and I try to buy second hand where possible to reduce my environmental impact (and to save money). However, I’ve learned a bit about capsule wardrobes and how they can help to create a variety of outfits by mixing and matching, and accessorising. Lots of my clothes are several years old (and the rest!) so I need to bite the bullet and buy some new pieces.

23. 10 random acts of kindness

I like to think that I’m a kind person anyway, but I’d like to make an effort to do some meaningful acts of kindness – i.e. something a bit more than holding the door open for someone or complementing them.

24. Write a letter to myself to open on my 40th birthday

I’ve seen this on several other ‘40 before 40 lists’ and thought it would be fun to read back at the end of this decade.

25. Pay off my student loan

I’d like to be debt-free by 40, but realistically we’ll still have a mortgage, so paying off my student loan is a good place to start.

26. Go horse riding on the beach

I rode on the beach when I was a teenager and it was slightly terrifying! My mum and I then went on a sand dunes ride when I was in my mid-20s, but I’d like to go on a proper beach ride again. I get quite nervous riding in big open spaces, especially on a horse I don’t know, so I’ll have to wear my big girl pants! Maybe I’ll get Dave to the beach someday!

A Finding Nemo cake with squirt the baby turtle and a sign for P.Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney
A 'Finding Nemo' cake I made for a friend's 18th birthday – one of my favourite cakes I've ever made!

27. Bake novelty cakes for friends/family

When I was a teenager, I often made novelty cakes for friends and family for special occasions. It was one of the most stressful yet rewarding hobbies and I adored seeing people’s reactions when I gave them their cakes. I’d like to do this again, even if it’s just one every now and then.

Update: In April 2024, I made a Winnie the Pooh cake for my mum's 60th birthday. I didn't make every element of it – I bought the figurines – as I knew it would be a lot of work to juggle with a 3-month old! But it was lovely to get baking and creating again.

28. Host a dinner party

For the first two and a half years of living in our house, Jack and I didn’t have a dining room, table and chairs. One of the things I was looking forward to about buying our home was hosting friends and family for dinner, so it was very frustrating not being able to do this for so long! We’ve just finished an extension, which has given us space for a brand new dining table and chairs, so I can’t wait to invite people over and cook some yummy dinners.

29. Take a cooking class with Jack

Both Jack and I enjoy cooking, but it can become mundane when it’s the same old recipes. We both really like Asian cuisine, so an Asian cooking class would be a great way for us to learn new ways of cooking, and hopefully also be a fun date!

30. Take dance lessons

I have two left feet and usually need to have consumed a bottle of wine before I’m confident enough to dance in front of other people! However, every time I watch Strictly Come Dancing, I get the urge to take dance lessons, as I would love to be able to dance even a tiny bit as well as the professionals. I’d prefer to learn Latin, as it looks more fun and sexy, but I think that would require more confidence, so we’ll see!


31. Go out for a meal by myself

Another one that appears on a lot of ‘40 before 40’ or bucket lists. I’ve never even been for a coffee by myself, so taking myself for breakfast, lunch or dinner will probably feel a bit weird, but I’ve heard it is a great opportunity to really be ‘in the moment’ and can make you a more confident person.

32. Take Dave on a fun ride

A couple of years ago, I rode Dave up on Cleeve Hill a few times with the ladies from Cotswold RDA. Holly and I talked about taking Dave and his pal Morph on a fun ride and, despite still being a nervous rider, especially in new places/big open spaces, I really got on board with the idea. Sadly, we never found the time to organise it, but I’d still like to do this one day before Dave retires.

33. Have a luxurious pamper spa day

I love a massage and relaxing in a jacuzzi, so I’d like to truly spoil myself with a full day of pampering.

34. Discover and perfect the best vegan brownie recipe

Brownies are my absolute favourite dessert/sweet treat and I am very particular about what I think makes a good brownie. I’m not vegan, but I do class myself as ‘plant-based’ – I don’t eat meat or fish, I eat very little dairy (mainly chocolate) and I still eat eggs occasionally. I’ve had some great and some not-so-great vegan bakes, so I’d like to try to crack making an amazing vegan brownie that is as good as the non-vegan version my mum makes.

35. Write a joint will with Jack

This is something a lot of people don’t get round to doing for a long time, but I feel it’s important to get it done, especially as we’re about to start our own family.

Lois The Horsey Mama and her husband Jack quadbike activity Bali jungle honeymoon
Quadbiking through the jungle in Bali on our honeymoon!

36. Visit five new countries

As I said before, I’m a home bird and not big on travelling, but I do like going on holiday for a week or two and would like to visit some new places.

Countries/islands I’ve already visited (outside of the UK): France, Spain, Croatia, Italy (Sicily), Cyprus, Egypt, America, Greece (Kos and Zante).

Countries/places I’d like to visit: mainland Italy, New Zealand, Africa for a safari, Bruges, Amsterdam, more of the Greek islands.

37. Book a professional photoshoot

For a family photoshoot, with Dave or professionally for my author work. Or maybe all three!

Update: we had two newborn photoshoots when Theo was born. One was at home with Claire Westaway Photography and the other was at Venture studios. We love the photos from both shoots and can't wait to get some framed and put up in our home.

38. Get into a regular routine with yoga

I love the idea of yoga but I have never been able to get into a consistent routine with it.

39. Attend an event that requires a really fancy dress and have my hair and makeup done

The only time I’ve had my hair and makeup done for an occasion was for my wedding and I felt incredible. I would love to have the excuse to do it again for a fancy event.

40. Treat myself to an expensive experience or splurge item

As well as hating shopping, I’ve never been a big spender. I’ve always been a saver so I therefore don’t often spoil myself – usually, a ‘treat’ would be buying a more expensive chocolate bar than the standard Cadbury’s or Galaxy!

Let me know if any of these are on your bucket list, or if you have some other fun ideas!

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