The first Monday of the new year simultaneously holds tremendous promise and abysmal failure. We choose today to "get started" on a new habit even though deep down, we know we won't perfectly follow through. We're a country of insane people, making the same resolutions every year expecting a different result just because Oprah says that "this is year is our year."
There's nothing wrong with setting goals, as long as they're not stupid. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make changes in our lives, as long as we're not using them as a distraction from what's really going on deep in our souls. In fact, having things to plan for, even root for, is a buoy during the weary days, like a surprise rerun of your favorite Friends episode on a rough afternoon when Everything Is the Worst.
So how do we capture the Fresh Start in the January air while still being lazy geniuses who focus on what really matters?
This year, let's create a new version of goal-setting.
Let's give ourselves permission to do things we love.
Many of us don't have the luxury of doing things just because they're fun. Life requires too much. Sickness, poverty, injustice, and oppression exist in the same space as Target being out of toilet paper when all we needed was toilet paper. From the frivolous to the funereal, our eyes are wearied by all of the Life around us, and we forget to feed our souls with fun, a food we need more than we realize.
My 2016 is marked with one of the greatest changes life offers - a baby girl. (Who will eventually become a teenage girl which TERRIFIES me, but that's a resolution for another year hashtag praise hands.) I know from experience that having a baby in the house makes me forget that I'm a person, so this time around, I want to pay better attention. I want to have fun, to remember to have fun.
Are you in a season of needing to remember that you're a person? Then do this with me.
It's called the "101 Things in 1,001 Days" list, and it's the least stupid list ever, i.e. the New Years resolution you'll look forward to completing. The idea is simple - make a list of 101 things to do and give yourself 1,001 days to do them. That's a little less than three years. The idea is you have a lot of options to dream about and move through without feeling tied to an arbitrary "beginning of the week/month/year/OprahTime." Here are some tips on what - and more important what not - to put on your list.
101 Things List Tips
Choose things you love, not things you think you're supposed to love.
My example of this is camping. I want to love camping, but I think it's stupid. I like beds and central air and no bugs. Putting "go camping" on my list only makes me avoid that thing and feel badly for not completing it.
Choose things you have control over.
I see "fall in love" on so many lists, and I think those people do themselves a disservice. Falling in love happens; you can't make it happen. Be sure you can make everything on your list happen.
Don't choose things that belong on a to-do list.
"Clean out the hall closet" and "wash my car" belong on your to-do list, not your 101 list. Now, if you want a goal of "give everything I own a real place," that's awesome. Then fill your to-do list with tasks that meet that goal.
Don't choose things that will already happen.
It's kind of like cheating. I know; I'm bossy. But one of the best parts of having a 101 list is making it. It forces you to think about what you love and creatively fill your next 1,001 days with things to look forward to. Naturally, if you're already doing something like getting married or taking a trip to Italy during your 1,001 days, you'll look forward to them. But instead of adding "get married" or "go to Italy" to your list, create an experience within them, i.e. "take a photo at the top of every hour on my wedding day" or "try at least five flavors of gelato while I'm in Italy." See the difference?
Avoid choosing things that require a regular commitment; choose accomplishable events instead.
Rather than saying, "run four days a week," say "run a 5K." If you want to run a 5K, you have to train for it, and you'll figure out the best running rhythm for that stage of your life. Otherwise, it just turns into a stupid goal that will you make you eat all the cookies when you fail.
Be realistic, not idealistic.
I've always wanted a vegetable garden, but I have never come even close to growing one. What do you think would happen if I put "grow a vegetable garden" on my list? All the gnashing of teeth is what would happen. Instead? "Grow one thing I can eat." One thing. And if I can grow that one thing, it'll give me the confidence to grow two things. And then maybe one day in a million years, an entire garden, but let's not get carried away.
That's it! I might seem a little micromanage-y with these suggestions, but I promise that following them will make you more excited to make and check off your list over the next 1,001 days. This is an experience for you, not a way to make yourself more of what you think you should be. That's in bold, y'all, because it's like super important.
Here's my list, and you're welcome to follow along, use suggestions for your own list, or just be a stalker. I'm fine with all three. Over the next 1,001 days, I'll write updates on things as I do them, and you can access that through the separate 101 Things blog or simply click on any listed item to get its report. Check these out any time you need a little encouragement to be a person.