Author Archives: Shelly Najjar

About Shelly Najjar

MPH in Public Health Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist // Freelance Writer, Community Builder // I have a very long Goal List (Bucket List) and I enjoy doing nail art.

2017 Bucket List Year in Review

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I’ve never really made New Year’s resolutions, but every year, I do make a list. It has the bucket list items I accomplished during the previous year (2017), and a subset of items to work on for the current year (2018), as a way of both reviewing and looking ahead.

In 2017, I went to Alaska on a cruise, completing two things on my bucket list (I’ll add links as I write the posts).

I also made a little progress on two long-term list items:

And… I did a few more things that were bucket-list worthy but not actually on my bucket list (added to the retrospective list), but for the first time since 2003 (when I started my list) I didn’t add any new items.

I’m kind of disappointed in myself, both in my progress and in how little I made new dreams. I feel like this has been a year where I didn’t really focus a lot on personal goals and I think I felt it. (It’s kind of like a closed-in, stuck feeling.)

Also, I didn’t really spend as much time on the blog as I wanted to, but I think these things were pretty cool (and after writing this list I now see why I didn’t have as much time to blog!):

Most popular post:
This year, the most popular post on the entire blog was “Writing letters to strangers” (in case you want to feel warm fuzzies: based on search terms, it seems a bunch of people suddenly wanted to know how to write encouraging letters to perfect strangers!)

Fewer, but higher quality posts:
Overall, I wanted to write fewer posts, but focus on making them more interesting and/or more useful. I’m particularly proud of the one about me facing my fear of spiders.

Couldn’t do it without help:
I’m so grateful for all the support! Some posts were possible with the help of groups like the Woodland Park Zoo (read: Tarantulas feel like puppies) and the Western Montana tourism board (read: I wrote off an entire area as “not for me” but I was wrong). Other posts, like the interviews and the 4 Steps to Accomplishing Your Goals series were made possible by people willing to share their stories with me (and you). And of course, a blog without readers is really just an online journal. So thank you for reading!

Writing in other places:
This year I had the opportunity to write or be featured in several blogs and online magazines, both for professional and bucket list/travel related writing. Here are some of my favorites:
Learning to Love the Lobster Roll in Boston – Lyf&Spice
What To Expect When Going To A Plant-Based Burger Joint – Seattle Greenlaker
7 Tips for the Best Stargazing – All Mom Does

Facebook group:
I enjoyed seeing the growth and camaraderie in The Goal List Community, a group of people who love travel and goal accomplishment. We had discussions, did the Intentional Life 5-Day Challenge, made a crazy round-the-world itinerary, and even had a virtual coffee date! I’m excited to see where we go in 2018 and beyond. Join us today!

The 2018 Bucket List Subset

In the past, I’ve chosen a subset list of 10 items for goals I want to give myself a little extra pressure to finish before the year’s over. But this year, I want to choose just two, not because those are the only two I’ll do this year, but because they seem doable given all the other (non-bucket list) things I’m planning on doing.

So, here’s the (very short!) subset bucket list for 2018:

  • Plan a plus one event
  • Complete a photo project

What’s on your bucket list this year? Let me know in the comments!


Join The Goal List Community, a free Facebook group for those who love bucket listing, travel, and goal achievement, and want to support and be supported in their goals and adventures. As mentioned, we do lots of cool things throughout the year!

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Our Crazy Round-The-World Itinerary

Thirty places and 148,390 miles – those are the numbers for the new travel itinerary I planned with the help of the members in The Goal List Community.

Okay… it’s not a real trip. But it’s fun to see anyway.

In August, I posted a game in the community (we’re on Facebook, you should join!), asking members to come up with names of places that started with the letter that the previous location ended with. For example, Alabama -> Anchorage -> Eiffel Tower…

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Over the next few days, members replied with locations around the world. As promised, I put them all on a map (I used a site called Tripline, which I hadn’t heard of before but I’ll definitely look into it more in the future).

Here’s the full map, which you can click to go to the interactive one. Use the arrows below the map to see each of the stops one by one (if you can’t see the picture, click here to go to the map).

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I know this kind of thing isn’t really how most of us will plan a trip, but it’s a fun game to play while you’re waiting for the next (real) trip to happen.

Although… some people choose vacation destinations by throwing darts at maps, or by spinning a globe and randomly stopping it. Would you use something like this game to plan your itinerary?

I can also see it working as a group icebreaker, or maybe in a hostel when you’re making friends (no wifi needed: grab a real map of the local area, limit the locations to places on whatever map you have access to, and draw the lines between locations by hand).

And when you do have wifi, check out The Goal List Community, a free Facebook group for those who love bucket listing, travel, and goal achievement, and want to support and be supported in their goals and adventures.


Shoutout to Tina, Carla, Salim, Lara, Aditi, Ashley, and Sara for helping create this itinerary!

“Every moment is worth it” – Interview with Aditi from Lyf&Spice

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Photo provided by and used with permission from Aditi Shukla at Lyf&Spice

Today’s interview is with Aditi Shukla, a food and travel blogger at Lyf&Spice. According to her about page, “Lyf” is pronounced “life,” which “looks different from every angle. Add some spice to it & you have a zesty life! […] Lyf = a new angle to sprucing up life, might I add, with some flavor & spice!”

In this interview, Aditi shares some fun facts about herself, her bucket list, and the best advice she’s ever received.

Name and blog:
Aditi Shukla at Lyf&Spice

Fun fact about you:
The thought of dipping my feet in water [used to] send shivers down my spine, but I’m now a certified Open Water Diver 😉

Funner fact:
I’m very bad at yoga, I skip work-out sessions, I can eat chocolate cakes all day. I am always positive, motivated, and always on time (rather… before time) for meetings and gatherings.

Funnest fact:
I collect bills [receipts] from dinner catch-up with friends, boarding passes, and small notes and scribbles from daily life for my scrap book. I label the collection and go through it once in a while.

What do you think has been essential to your success as a travel blogger?
I wouldn’t call myself successful yet, but my journey has been nurtured by consistency, hard work and the quintessential “never say die” spirit. It took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do with Lyf&Spice. It eventually grew to be about Travel and Food, and I spend all the time I can nurturing it. My aim is to help readers and fellow travellers with tips and tricks, and take non-travellers on a virtual trip through Lyf&Spice.

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
The amount of networking that needs to be done. To be noticed, you have to be seen first.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Read – Travel – Drool – Repeat.

Who or what inspires you?
My mom, for the energy and confidence she exudes – her positivity always keeps me going.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
Well, besides wanting to travel the world with my travel buddy (hubby), I want to eat at every possible city of the world. Hosting a travel and food show ranks one on my (dream) list!

If you aren’t doing anything related to travel, what are you doing in your free time?
Writing, eating chocolate cake, hanging out with friends and family, or trying something new.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
From my dad – Celebrate life, ‘coz every moment is worth it!

Readers: Join me in thanking Aditi for sharing her time, stories, and advice with us! If you want to learn more about her, check out her blog Lyf&Spice, with all the links to the usual social media sites.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to sign up to stay updated on all the latest posts and interviews.

Also, get on the Insiders list, a monthly email with a summary of blog posts, cool surprises and printables throughout the year, invites to insider-only online events, and chances to be featured in the blog.