My Approach to New Years Resolutions: 101 Things

So let’s talk New Year’s Resolutions. Now, don’t exit out yet. I used to try the whole New Years Resolution thing, but who actually finishes them? I’m sure there are success stories of accomplishing your resolution, but I haven’t heard them yet. Why don’t we hear many “I did it!” stories? A few reasons.

  • We pick things that are too broad. “I want to lose weight.” Great. Make that your N.Y.R. around 3 p.m. one day, and then the next day after you have gotten up and out of bed and visited your john you’ve accomplished your goal. But that wasn’t really the real goal there. “I want to live healthier.” “I want to spend less.” Those are all admirable goals…but all too often I think we leave them at that one broad statement.
  • This one kinda goes along with the previous one…but we don’t give ourselves a finish mark. “I want to lose 20 pounds” is a little better than “I want to lose weight” because it gives you a specific goal to work towards. But then often we give ourselves an outlandish finish mark and we want to finish it by March.
  • We make a N.Y.R. that requires a regular schedule. “I want to exercise 3 times every week.” So as soon as you don’t fulfill one week you feel like you’ve blown your entire resolution and why keep trying.
  • We pick something outlandish. “I want to sing on stage with the remaining members of Queen while wearing THE Michael Jackson glove.” Probably not going to happen.
  • Then of course nature works against us, the minions plot to ruin our lives, Karma has a few good kicks we may or may not deserve, and we just don’t get done what we want to.

I had quit doing New Years Resolutions because they just didn’t get done and/or they got forgotten about by March (at the latest). But then I happened on an idea, and this year will mark my 10th year doing it and it’s revolutionized my New Years Resolution making. One of my friends put together a list for herself of 101 things she wanted to do in 1001 days. I thought that was an awesome idea, but I knew that 1001 days (which is over 2.5 years) was a little large of a scope for me. So I decided that I was going to make me a list of 101 things I wanted to do that year. It took me a month to come up with 101 things that first time, but I finally got my list made. This year will be my 10th list and I’m excited to get working on it.

You can see my full “101 Things in 2019” list here!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, because this is what I thought at first: “101 things?! Are you kidding? No way I could do that.” Don’t exit yet either.

This “101 Things in [insert year here]” list ends up being like my bucket list for the year. I put anything on there, big or small. You can find goals as big as “launch my new website” down to “eat at a new restaurant”. I find doing this list also helps me to work towards some of the larger goals I have.

So what does this “101 Things” list do for me that a New Year’s Resolution doesn’t?

  • It gives me narrow goals. I know what I mean by “go carb free for a week.”  Yes, that is still up to interpretation, but it’s definitely better than “eat healthier.”
  • I have finish marks. As I complete items on the list, I can cross them off. I see progress being done. I keep track of my progress on my blog so that I can put links to finished projects, articles that helped, and then it’s like show-and-tell. It may be that no-one ever actually looks at that page, but some might and so it helps me want to check things off the list and it’s fun to show what I’ve been able to accomplish.
  • I have all year to work on the items. I can have individual items on a schedule (one of mine this past year was to go on a walk or hike with Cameron at least once a month), but the whole list is not on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.
  • If one item is outlandish…it’s only 1 in 101. The whole list isn’t blown if that one item doesn’t get done.
  • I know that as I go through the year I will find new hobbies and interests and that I will change and grow, so by August I may actually not be interested in doing some of the things I was interested in doing back in January. So I view this list not as a list of “must dos or your year was a piece of poop”, but more as a “you might try this and just see how many you can get done”. Don’t expect to finish everything on the list.
  • Some days when I’m bored I go through my list and get ideas of what to do.
  • I know that I won’t finish everything on the list. I tend to get around 50% of the list done (some years more, other years less), but this list isn’t about perfection. This list is about trying new things, accomplishing goals, and it gives me things to work on through the year.

It can be hard to come up with 101 things…the first time I did this it took me 2 months to get to 101 items. But it made me sit down and think about what I wanted. It made me make goals. It made me evaluate what I wanted out of life that year. Coming up with 101 things sounds intimidating…but give it a try. If you can only get to 50…start with that and then add to your list as you go throughout the year. Sometimes I break down items into two or more in order to reach the 101 mark. For example, I had “turn the hammock area into a picnic area”, but I needed more items on the list so I also put, “start gathering rocks for the picnic area”. So I ended up working on two different items on the list by doing one thing. I don’t count it as cheating, I see it as breaking up your goals into bite sized chunks. Remember, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.” I know that phrase is almost cliche now…but it’s taken on new meaning in my life lately so today it seems less cliche than normal. You have to start somewhere.

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