An Annual Series of Micro Quests : Nancy Howell’s Way of Thinking About Birthdays

This is a quest case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

Over the last decade, Nancy Howell has dedicated the first five months of the year to completing an ever-growing series of micro-quests: adventures and new experiences that take her outside her comfort zone and daily norms.

11108025475_7905e0c8c1_z What inspired you to start going on micro-quests?

As I approached the age of 30, I found most of my friends were married and starting families. In contrast, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone on a date, and I’d never had a long-term relationship. I flash forwarded to the months leading up to my birthday, imagining myself brooding until then. Distracting myself with thirty new things sounded like a much better plan.

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Gratitude, 4 Years, and 2 Birthdays

Four years ago I started the AONC site, and my biggest fear was that I'd get bored with it. I was worried because that's what I had done any number of times before. I'd build a business to a certain level, then I'd feel myself moving away from it. The work I did in West Africa was the same—I loved it and gave it all I had for a while, but then drifted toward something else. Graduate school, for all I make light of it, was fun and interesting for a time. But after a few quarters where I applied myself, I shifted into focusing merely on completing the degree requirements as quickly as possible. Thankfully, four years into this project and I feel more motivated than ever. Lesson: Craft your project around what you are excited by, but keep it flexible.

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