Tool Tips – The 101 Things in 1001 Days List

Last week, specifically the night between the 28th and the 29th of September, marked an irregular milestone in my life. Exactly 1001 days earlier, on January 1st 2015, I set out to complete a list of 101 goals. I had spent the last few weeks of 2014 composing it on a website called DayZeroProject, which I’d heard about it from a friend of mine (I honestly can’t remember who, but I know it was one of my Kiwi writing buddies). Since I’m a sucker for lists, and it was just before New Year’s (always a time when resolving to do things feels appealing),  I thought “hey, why not give it a go?”. It went… all right. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

As I said, I found out about the site a couple of weeks before New Year’s Eve, so I had a bit of time to think about what to put on the list. I ended up with a mixture of goals, many relating to writing, some to studying, some to hobbies, some to my homelife and a handful of other things. I quite enjoyed the process of setting up the list. Thought I’ve always been a fan of to-do lists, and (I think) had a fair idea of my direction in life, I’d never done long-term planing on this scale before (1001 days, after all, is almost 3 years). It felt healthy, meditative almost, to sit down and close my eyes and think “hm, where do I want to be in 1001 days?” and then try to find concrete goals to tie to whatever mental image I conjured up. Of course, even though I enjoyed it I still found myself on New Years Eve with ~35 of the 101 goals unaccounted for, which lead to a fair number of reasonably random last-minute goals. Oh well…

Enjoyable set-up process aside, once it came time to actually working towards this goals my progress was initially….wobbly. Wobbly in that way where you’re trying to do something habitually but it’s not a habit yet. I would check my list once every few days for a while, then completely forget about it for weeks or months and then go back to the site feeling vaguely stressed that I hadn’t been keeping my goals in mind more! I still checked things off once in a while (or marked things as “In Progress”), but not really at a desirable rate. It wasn’t until I started using a bullet journal last year that I really started using the list in a productive, and proactive, way. Every week or so (it varied a bit) I added “Check List” to my to-dos, and then took some time to make sure the list was updated. I’d check to see if there were any goals on it that I wanted to work on that week and, if so, added them to my to-do list. I also started letting myself swap out goals if I realized I’d lost interest in one entirely. Eventually I also got into the habit of consulting the list when setting up my monthly goals, and sort of portion out my goals one monthly morsel at the time. Combining the list with my bullet journal really helped me make progress on my goals, however by the time I did that ~600-700 of the 1001 days had already gone past. Unsurprisingly. I didn’t quite manage to catch up.

The screencap above shows my final results for the list as of its last day. Green is Completed (at a respectable 53.5%), yellow/cream is In Progress (at 19.8%) and grey is Not Started (at a somewhat disappointing 26.7%). Numerically it’s neither a super encouraging results nor as bad as I worried it would be, but overall I’m pretty happy with it! Looking back, there are a few things I think I could’ve done to get a higher percentage of Completed goals. Incorporating it into my general planning at an earlier stage would’ve really helped, but I also could’ve done a better job with setting up the goals. I added a few too many really big goals, but I don’t think that was the main problem. The bigger problem, I think, is that the small goals were really sprawly. They covered all sorts of activities and, worse, rarely built up toward the larger goals. Additionally, a lot of them weren’t too well thought-through (especially the ones I added right at the end when I was hurrying to get the list finished).

On the balance, I enjoyed doing “101 Things in 1001 Days” and have decided to give it another go. I finished my new list the other day, and will be working toward the goals on it until the summer of 2020 (gosh, is it really the 20s soon?). I think I have a much more solid list this time. A lot of my goals build on top of one other, and I don’t have any that feel like they’re just tacked on because I needed more goals. I’m also gonna review the list regularly already from the start and tweak goals as needed if my circumstances and desires change. I’ll be incorporating it into my general day-to-day planning by adding goals from the list to my monthly goals regularly. I’m really excited to see how it goes!

Let us end with the big question: do I recommend making a 101 Things in 1001 Days list? I do! But like all tools, I think it suits certain circumstances better. If you feel like your planning and goal-setting is generally rather short-term and would like to make it more long-term, I think it can be a really fun, useful tool for that. The website also lets you follow your friends, view other people’s lists (though you can also set your goals to private if you want, either all or just some of them), browse goals under different tags for inspiration and other stuff, which can be entertaining. Honestly, I think just making the list and thinking about what stuff you want to do in the next few years can be really useful even if you don’t use the list dynamically or incorporate it into your everyday planning. As more of an exercise in self-reflection than in planning, that is. However, if you do want to try using it for planning and goal-setting, I would say do it but be kind to yourself. Don’t set your goals too high (or too low, for that matter). Let your goals stack and build on one another so you don’t pull yourself in too many directions at once. Don’t be afraid to change things up as your life changes! And remember to throw some fun things in there, too! There’s nothing wrong with having goals that are only fun and not work! On my last list I had “Watch the old Star Wars movies” since I’d never seen them and I’m so glad I did – I liked them a lot better than I expected.

So, go forth and list-make! Or, not. Y’know, whatever suits you. If you do join the site, feel free to follow me @ EmmaLindhagen. Let’s encourage each other!

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