Friday, December 1, 2017

How to Make a 101 in 1001 List

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm doing really well on finishing up my 2nd 101 in 1001 list, and that I'm working on my 3rd, which is going to start next May.  I gotta say, coming up with a totally different 101 ideas for a 3rd time is hard.  I'm not there yet, but I'm slightly more than halfway and I'm feeling great about what I've got planned so far.  I think the goals get better with each list.  Besides the obvious 'how do you get it all done?', the question I get asked most often is 'how do you come up with 101 ideas at all?'  So today I'm sharing with you the process of how I come up with my 101 list, which will hopefully inspire you to create your own - I know how popular it is to start them on January 1, after all.

Let's get the basics out of the way first.  You need to pick a start date and think about when the end date will be.  This calculator makes it super easy to add 1001 days from any date.  Some people like to start in January, but some people care more about when the end date is.  Second basic tip is to start planning early.  It takes longer than you think to come up with 101 different ideas.  As you start to think of your goals and look at other lists, you'll probably have a bunch come to mind right away.  But it gets harder as you need to think of more and more.  Give yourself time to come up with 101 that you actually want to do, that will mean something to you.  How?

I find it easiest to brainstorm first and then begin categorizing when I have about 30 to 40 goals.  If you've been considering a list like this, you likely have some ideas floating around anyway.  I commit them to paper (well, to the Day Zero Project website) until I can't think of anymore on my own.  I give myself a few days for this, during which time I'll look around at other lists on the internet for ideas.  Then I start to put them into categories.  Not everyone categorizes their lists, but it helps me a lot with keeping things focused and organized.  Plus when I see them all laid out like that, more related ideas come to me.  One goal about not shopping leads me to think about saving a certain amount into retirement funds and so on.  My brain just focuses better if I tell myself 'okay, we're considering financial goals right now, don't think about anything else.'

It's also important at this point to get specific about each item.  'Lose weight' is not a specific goal, nor is 'workout more,' 'save more money,' or 'travel more.'  How will you ever know when you've reached that goal?  If you workout zero times now, and then after the list starts you workout twice, you're technically 'working out more' but is that really what you meant to accomplish when you wrote it down?  Doubtful.  So know the end point - be able to run a 5k without walking, travel to 4 new states, or save $5,000 in a retirement fund are all much more specific and measurable.

While you're getting specific, make sure you also balance the list.  It's fun to dream up big, long term goals (that's the bonus of the longer timeline), but you need some easy wins on there too to keep you motivated and making progress.  Everyone loves crossing stuff off a list.  Make sure you have some small, fun things on there, like trying a new restaurant, decorating for Halloween, or buying a new collar for your dog (that's on my list!)

Once you've got all of them, or a good amount, review the list and think about time and money.  It seems like 2.75 years is a long time away, but it's really not - it goes by quickly.  You'll have plenty of time to do big goals, but maybe not 70 big goals all at once.  The same is true for money.  It sounds great and fun to have all sorts of goals on there related to visiting every continent or 20 new countries, but those things cost a lot of money, and a lot of time off of work.  Review the list as a whole and think about whether those things are actually feasible at the same time as each other.  If not, consider making some big ones smaller.  Like one new continent instead of 5.

After that, I highly recommend you leave the list alone for awhile.  That's why I've started brainstorming so early.  I'd like to put it aside for a few weeks before the start date, and then reconsider it in fresh light before I actually dive it.  I change anything that doesn't fit and I think about whether I believe I'll still care about these goals in 2 years.  I also set a plan for what I'll do if things change, whether I'm okay with changing list items if I can't or don't want to complete them anymore (I have, by the way, been fine with changing some in the past.  Not the whole list, but 10 or so I'm fine with tweaking!)  You just don't want to set yourself up for failure, because it's really de-motivating.  If you have a plan for these things, you're more likely to keep making progress.

How do you tackle your goals - short or long term?  Any interest in starting a 101 in 1001 list?  If you have one you're working on now, link it in the comments, I love checking out everyone's ideas.

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