Impossible List

Society dictates many of the goals we tentatively set for our lives: go to school, get a job, start a family. But in reality, there is so much more to life than the socially mandated norms – not to mention ignoring some or all of them entirely. What about hobbies? What about  travel? What about the dreams we have beyond what gets us paid and offers us a stable lifestyle? For that matter, what about the details that go into all of those goals? Many of us have goals and dreams that happen in between what is written down in history as the benchmarks for our lives.

I got the idea to create my Impossible List from College Info Geek, Thomas Frank. His Impossible List is a version of Joel Runyon’s original Impossible List, which sets up an ever-growing list of goals to serve as a continuing challenge to make the most of life.

Here is my Impossible List. I’ve made it to keep track of the wonderful achievements in my life and to challenge myself to keep moving forward.

Person sits with legs crossed on a wall that overlooks a bay.
Havana, Cuba, near the home of Ernest Hemingway (2015)

Alex’s Impossible List

Current Focus:

Right now, I’m focusing on designing a content analysis rubric for my dissertation, hitting 10K steps at least six days out of the week, and finishing the first round of edits on The American Refugee, a novel I am co-authoring. (UPDATED 4/7/2018)

Last 5 Completed Goals

Monkey sits on the shoulder of a person while kissing her cheek.
Crystal the Monkey of Hangover 2 fame at an SDCC party (2012)
  • Defend my dissertation proposal successfully (March 2018)
  • Learn to knit (February 2018)
  • Submit 2 proposals to the 2018 APSA Conference (January 2018)
  • Get my first grant application rejection! (January 2018)
  • Apply for the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (January 2018)

Health Goals

  • Go into remission from my RA.
  • Keep up the Ashtanga yoga practice for one month – six days per week except on ladies’ holiday, new moons, and full moons.
  • Go 1 year without an eye surgery. (Achieved January 2017)
  • Go 1 month without eating gluten. (Achieved June 2017)
  • Go 1 week without eating processed sugar. (Achieved June 2017)
  • Go to 3 yoga classes/week for 1 month. (Achieved December 2017)
  • Learn the half primary series of the Ashtanga yoga tradition (Achieved December 2017)
  • Learn the full primary series of the Ashtanga yoga tradition.

Professional Goals

  • Person stands in front of a long hall that has a vaulted Cathedral ceiling and is lined with rows of books.
    Book of Kells in Dublin, Ireland (2016)

    Earn my M.A. (Achieved December 2015. Final GPA: 3.81. Master of Arts degree in political science from Georgia State University!)

  • Complete my comprehensive exams to qualify as a Ph.D. candidate. (Achieved September 2016. Passed American Politics exam. Passed Comparative Politics exam with distinction.)
  • Complete my Major Area Paper on the effects of entertainment media on political attitudes. (Achieved April 2017)
  • Defend my dissertation proposal. (Achieved March 2018)
  • Apply for the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. (Achieved January 2018)
  • Apply for the NSF Dissertation Research Improvement Grant for my dissertation experiment.
  • Get any grant for my dissertation work.
  • Find funding for the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • Apply to present at the American Political Science Association Annual Conference 2018. (Achieved January 2018)
  • Present at the American Political Science Association Annual Conference.
  • Design a content analysis rubric for my dissertation.
  • Complete the survey for my dissertation.
  • Complete the longitudinal quasi-field experiment for my dissertation.
  • Attend the ATX Television Festival.
  • Conduct personal interviews with supply-side agents for my dissertation.
  • Write the manuscript for my dissertation.
  • Defend my dissertation.
  • Earn my Ph.D. in Political Science.
  • Complete a book based on my dissertation work.
  • Become an expert in attitude change and media effects.

Creative Goals

  • Finish a play. (Completed August 2015.)
    • Finish editing my play.
  • Finish writing my political sci-fi novel.
  • Finish a novel for NaNoWriMo.
  • Finish writing the pilot for a new series on chronic illness.
  • Finish writing the pilot for a new series on graduate students.
  • Get a literary agent.
  • Finish writing The American Refugee novel.
  • Finish editing The American Refugee.
  • Start shopping The American Refugee.

Blog Goals

  • Write at least 1 post here every month for 3 months.
  • Write at least 1 post on (my health advocacy blog) every month for 3 months.

Habit Goals

  • Complete the Ashtanga half primary series every morning for 1 week (6 days).
  • Get out of bed (and stay out of bed) when my alarm goes off every day for 1 week.
  • Record my water intake for 1 week.
  • Block off time in my schedule for personal work time, and do NOT let it be interrupted, for 1 week.
  • Get in bed by 10:00 pm every night for 1 week (7 days).
  • Do 10 minutes of DuoLingo every day for 10 days.
  • Avoid gluten for 3 months.
  • Avoid processed sugar for 3 months.

Skill Goals

  • Learn basic proficiency in GSU’s WordPress system. (Achieved October 2016.)
    • Extend this proficiency to other WordPress sites.
  • Become fluent in French.
  • Learn to set up and launch a campaign in MailChimp. (Achieved November 2016.)
  • Learn to ride a bicycle (again).
  • Learn to knit. (Achieved basic skills February 2018.)
  • Learn to make chocolate.

Travel Goals


Person sits inside the window of a square stone structure at a juncture of the Great Wall.
Great Wall of China in China (2011)
  • Beijing, China (March 2011)
  • Havana, Cuba (March 2015)
  • Dublin, Ireland (March 2016)
  • Howth, Ireland (March 2016)
  • Galway, Ireland
  • Malin’s Head
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom (March 2016)
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Paris, France
  • Visit the Notre Dame
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Visit the U.N. in Geneva
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Lahore, Pakistan (Achieved May 2017)
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Seoul, Korea
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
  • Moscow, Russia
  • St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • San José, Costa Rica
  • Madrid, Spain


  • Washington, D.C. (Spring 2001, Summer 2013)
  • New York City, NY (Summer 2006, Summer 2013)
  • Los Angeles, CA (Summer 2013, Fall 2015)
  • San Francisco, CA (Winter 2009)
  • San Diego, CA (Summer 2005, Summer 2010, Summer 2012)
  • Chicago, IL (Spring 2016)
  • Snowboarding (Michigan 2003(?), Utah 2007)
  • Skiing trip (North Carolina 2014)
  • Road trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Hiking on the Appalachian Trail
  • Grand Canyon
  • Coastal Maine
  • Visit the U.N. in New York

“Insane” Goals

Two people are strapped together in the air, vertical and facing downward.
Skydive (2013)
  • Go skydiving. (Acheived Winter 2013)
  • Swim with sharks.
  • Attend the Oscars.
  • Attend the Emmys.
  • Attend the Tonys.
  • Attend the Golden Globes.
  • Attend the Grammys.
  • Sing the National Anthem at a major event.

Life Goals

  • Be recognized as an expert in my field.
  • Publish a fiction book.
  • Publish a non-fiction book.
  • See one of my scripts brought to life.
  • Swim with dolphins.
  • Hold a sloth.
  • Build and maintain a loving and fulfilling relationship with my future partner.
  • Maintain the core friendships that have given me strength, peace, and inspiration. (ongoing)
  • Retire as (or to become) a writer, continuing to be creative and put out work until my death.


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