Thursday, June 19, 2008

Status report for "Anna's 101 things in 1001 days"

I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my "101 things to do in 1001 days"-project. For those of you who don't know what it's about, it's basically setting up 101 goals for yourself (as in "tasks") to complete in 1001 days. The thinking being that the time span is long enough to allow "bigger goals" as well as smaller ones. It gives you several seasons to complete a certain task and won't limit you to do everything in one year. (If you're interested, you'll find more info here and if you click around that website, you'll find other's projects as well.)

I tried doing this a couple of years ago, but failed miserably. I finished a couple of tasks but never really got into it. I think there were too many other things going on in my life and I couldn't focus. I also didn't really know how to keep track on my progress. Tried a blog for it, but thought it was awkward to find a logical way of presenting things.

This time around, I've been living with my project for 132 days and I'm sticking to it. The list pushes me to do things that I used to think about doing but never really put any energy into actually doing. Know what I mean? I've thought about baking bread for ages, but never did. I thought about giving books to charity, but was too lazy to actually sort through the boxes. I thought about becoming a member of Amnesty or Greenpeace or some other organizaton that I sympathised with, but didn't bother signing up.

Now, I have motivation. I like to be able to update my blog with progress reports. I find myself planning my time a bit differently to be able to start or finish a task. I planned a day for boyfriend and myself in Copenhagen so I could start the task of visiting three different capitals. If it weren't for the list, we probably would've just stayed home... The list breaks some of the routines I have. For example: I make an effort to think about restaurants and cafés I've never been to before so I can get closer to fulfilling the goal of trying out 15 new places. I explore more. To use a cliché: I'm expanding my horizons.

I think I'm doing fairly well working my way through the tasks. Some stats for you:

  • 132 days out of 1001 has gone by since the start. That's roughly 13% of the project time.
  • 16 out of 101 tasks are currently in progress. That's roughly 16% of the tasks.
  • 19 out of 101 tasks are currently finished. That's roughly 19% of the tasks.
  • 1 out of 101 tasks has so far failed at the first attempt.

Coming up with the 101 things to put on my list took some time. I was really strict with keeping everything measurable. How would I be able to say I had completed a task if I had defined it as "take more walks"? Would I consider it done after one walk as I hadn't walked the day before? One walk is more than no walk, so technically I'd be done with the task, wouldn't I? Or would I compare to the walks I took in October 1997? I made sure my tasks were measurable by wording them as "Go for ten walks within three weeks". That gives me a chance to see when they're done. In this case, and some others, I've added an extra challenge by putting in a time frame smaller than the 1001 days that the project runs for.

I chose not to include tasks that would fail with me not doing anything for a single week, such as "call my mother once a week". 1001 days comes to 143 weeks. I didn't want the feeling of failure if I during those weeks called my mother 142 times but couldn't get to a phone on my one-week-vacation in Saudi Arabia or whereever.

While writing the list I tried to mix "easy" tasks with those that take more effort. I didn't want all the tasks to be too much work, keeping me from succeeding in finishing once in a while. I also stayed away from anything I figured was impossible. Some of the "easy" tasks are things that could be done in less than ten minutes (like "Drink a glass of wine" or "Climb a tree") but still forces me to do something (overcome my anxiety for alcohol or find a proper climbing tree). Others take more planning ("Five days in a row send a card/letter to random people in my address book" or "Meet someone in real life that I've made friends with on the Internet") and some require both planning and some money ("Meet friends and family in the US and/or Canada" or "Go to three capitals"). I feel happy about the mix of tasks I've come up with.

I could go on and on about this project, but I'll leave it like this for now. Wouldn't want to scare you all off. :)

But I'm curious to know your thoughts on "101 things to do in 1001 days". Would you do it yourself? Why/Why not? Any specific task you'd put on your list without hesitation? Is 1001 days too many or too few for you to reach 101 goals?


swedish fishie said...

I think I might have to borrow your idea - don't worry I'll give you full credit :) I'd just worry that I wouldn't put specific things on my list because I'd be afraid I wouldn't be able to do them; mainly traveling which would be largely due to finances.
I think the list would definitely help me accomplish things I want to do such as bake/cook new things, spend more time with family I never see, sew, and even home improvement tasks. I know I'll have trouble coming up with 101 things.
I think 1001 days is really long but when you have a hectic schedule, it's probably the perfect amount of time. The other thing I worry about is that since its 1001 days, I'd have trouble sticking with it for that amount of time. I'll just have to complete my tasks early :)

Anonymous said...

Status report?'re such an engineer! lol :)

essjay said...

I've really enjoyed watching your progress through this journey. I think it is a great way to do things that perhaps we normally wouldn't. I've toyed with the idea of doing this project - maybe soon. Maybe that should be the first thing on MY list ;)