Filling The Bucket List

Birthday’s are the one time of the year when people get a little more sentimental than usual. We start to think about the future, and where our life is headed, but we also take time to reminisce and think about the past. Today is my birthday, and admittedly I’m doing both.

Looking back, I have to say the time between my 15th and 16th birthdays was quite unique and special. During the course of that year, not only did I receive my driver’s permit, but I joined a rock band, fell in love for the first time in my life, and I formed friendships with a core group of guys that still remain my closest friends.

Ten years into the future, my life changed immensely. Between my 25th and 26th birthday’s I came to earn my bachelor’s degree, and started graduate school in the pursuit of a business degree. I made big changes, including quitting my DJing job that had supported me for over two years, and starting a design position at a start-up company called Tickle. This is a time in someone’s life that one would typically call a “pivotal moment,” and ultimately I dropped out of business school to continue my work at Tickle. It turns out I found my true calling, working at start-ups, and once Tickle was acquired shortly after I started there, I fell in love with start-up culture and life. Ultimately, this has led me to work at start-ups ever since.

Today, I turn 36 and the past year, like all the others before has been full of changes, accomplishments, hardships, new challenges, and excitement. After 10 years of working on multiple start-ups, I took on a new position as the VP of Growth at Creative Market. During this time, my wife and I moved house and home from Oakland to San Francisco, and this past November we welcomed our beautiful daughter Madalina “Madi” Azalea Onisko into the world.


As I mentioned before, for most birthdays tend to be a time of reflection, and I am no exception to this. Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about bucket lists. (Admittedly, the two of us are getting to the age where bucket lists come up). However, I hadn’t really thought of all the things I wanted to do before my time comes. Not only did I marry the girl of my dreams, but I’ve been blessed with a beautiful and healthy baby girl, an amazing job, and a roof over my head with food on the table – what more could I want in life?

My friend’s question lingered in my head…While I have been blessed with so many things already, I have so many goals, ambitions, and things that I want to do with my life and things I want to see and experience with my family. After all, I’m not THAT old yet.

With the next 10 years, before my 46th birthday, I hope to accomplish the following 46 to-dos:

  1. Rock a sixpack (eat right, workout regularly).
  2. Be able to make a personal connection with people from around the world – Learn to say thank you in at least 25 languages.
  3. Worry less, and be happier.
  4. Start my own company.
  5. Take my wife back to the spot where I proposed to her in Vernazza, Italy on our 10th anniversary.
  6. Read and add 200 books to my library (basically, read a book every 2 weeks).
  7. Visit all 50 states…by motorcycle.
  8. Learn to speak Spanish fluently.
  9. Have another baby…or two.
  10. Learn to play the piano like a pro – I want to be able to play this, this, this and THIS.
  11. Buy a fixer-upper house and remodel it with my wife.
  12. Walk the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu
  13. Buy an old 60′s classic muscle car and restore it.
  14. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
  15. Perform stand-up comedy to >500 people.
  16. Tutor my daughter so that she’s ahead of the game every school year.
  17. Boat down the Amazon River.
  18. Plant a garden, raise chickens, pigs and cows.
  19. Record an album of the original songs my dad never had a chance to record.
  20. Run a full marathon.
  21. Write a book.
  22. Pay off my parents’ mortgage and debts and set my mom up so that she can retire.
  23. Visit the village in Poland/Ukraine where my last name originates from.
  24. Build a treehouse in the backyard for my daughter.
  25. Finish my MBA.
  26. Live and work from a tropical island for 3 months.
  27. Shoot a Bazooka.
  28. Take my mom and step dad on vacation out of the country.
  29. Up my guitar chops – Learn to play thisthisthis and THIS.
  30. Learn to dance: Salsa, Tango, Waltz, Ballroom.
  31. Make enough money to where I never have to worry about money again.
  32. Put the band back together. Play shows.
  33. Backpack from North to South Vietnam.
  34. Learn to code an iPhone app. Launch it. Grow it.
  35. Learn to cook like a chef.
  36. Learn to golf.
  37. Live in Buenos Aires for a year.
  38. Play a high stakes poker game in Vegas.
  39. Live and work in NYC for 3 months (either Spring or Fall!)
  40. Design beer bottle labels. Brew the beer to go inside the bottles.
  41. Finish building the guitar that my dad was working on before he passed.
  42. Buy 20 acres of land somewhere in Northern California. Design and build a house.
  43. Learn to fly.
  44. Buy a drum set. Play drums!
  45. Visit Petra in Jordan, the Great Wall of ChinaGreat Pyramid of Giza, Antarctica.
  46. Visit outer space.

As I accomplish these goals over the years, I’ll try to remember come back to this post and check items off this list. Wish me luck.

~ Z