My List of 100 Dreams

Inspirations and ideas for making a life list of 100 dreams. Your ultimate resource to turn dreams into action!

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I recently shared the experience of conducting a time study on myself, and how it shaped the way I plan my days and weeks. This self-reflective project was inspired by reading Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. In the book, Vanderkam shares how she was encouraged to come up with a list of 100 dreams by a career coach. The idea behind the exercise is that you can’t plan for and accomplish the things you want to do in life if you don’t know what they are.

The list of 100 dreams is supposed to be a list of unedited list of things you want to accomplish or want more of in your life. It’s similar to a bucket list or a 40×40 list, but in longer form. It doesn’t have to be big, sweeping accomplishments (although most of us probably have a few of those things we’d want to put on there). Small and simple belong there as well, because even the smallest of dreams have a way of being pushed aside because we believe there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

A few thoughts after I did this exercise myself:

  • It’s harder than I thought. I steamrolled through the first 25 or so, and then got stuck. Getting to 100 seemed impossible. So I put it away and would return to it whenever another idea popped into my head or I felt inspired to sit down and write for a few minutes.
  • That being said, I ended up with more than 100, as I’ve continued to jot more down as I think of them.
  • You can organize your list by category if you like. I did this after I made the complete list. I didn’t do it initially because I didn’t want to be bogged down in details. I also didn’t want to censor myself if I felt like one category seemed too robust, or inauthentically add things because another category looked lonely.
  • Nothing is too big or too silly. After all, these are your dreams we’re talking about.

Now that I have my list, I refer to it often. I used it in setting some goals for the year and in planning a Happiness Project for myself this year. I also use it when planning my weeks and filling in my block schedule. For example, I’m on a quest to see all the movies nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture category. (See? I told you nothing is too silly!) I’ve had this desire for the last few years, as I love the Oscars but found that I rarely had seen more than a movie or two that had been nominated. I wrote it down, and once the nominations were announced I wrote them all down on a sticky note. In order to see them all (there are 8) before the Oscars on February 26th, I would’ve needed to see 2 movies a week. That’s a stretch, and I knew I probably wouldn’t see them all before then. BUT … I penciled in times to see a movie each week. Thanks to being intentional about scheduling time to see a movie, I was able to see 5 of the nominated films. I’m confident I’ll watch all of them by the end of April. It’s an example of dreaming, planning and executing, and it makes me very happy.

So just for fun (and so you can see I have some loftier dreams and goals beyond watching movies), here’s my list of 100 dreams. I highly encourage you to make one as well. It’s really fun and eye-opening, and a great way to learn more about yourself.

CAREER

  • Start my own freelance writing and social media management business (In process!)
  • Get a new headshot
  • Write every day for a month
  • Implement block scheduling (Done – and it’s working SO well for me)

HOME

  • Get photos from our trip to Spain and London in an album.
  • Get photos from our trip to Disney in an album. (Only took 4 years!)
  • Make yearly photo books of our random photos and my Instagram photos. (2016 done; need one for IG photos)
  • Do a Project Life photo book.
  • Turn backyard into a peaceful oasis with good landscaping and a variety of bird feeders. (Paid a local nursery for a one-on-one consult and walked out with a detailed plan of how it should look and what we should plant. Worth every penny for those that suffer decision paralysis like me.)
  • Decorate our home to make it ours (In process. Made a list for each room and trying to tackle a bit at a time.)
  • Be prepared for life without Mike (and vice versa)
  • Play every game we own once, decide what to keep and what to donate (In process. Keeping a notebook to remember what we’ve played so far.)
  • Make the recipes I pin on Pinterest (A never ending task, I assume.)
  • Fill up my Indiana beer cap map
  • Get a kitchen table and chairs I love
  • Sell and purge stuff we don’t use
  • Own a hammock. And use it.
  • Incorporate a power hour into my week (Getting so many random things done this way *cough* Disney photos *cough*)
  • Invest in good gardening tools
  • Fill the freezer with beef again (This time we split a half a cow with our neighbors to save some money.)
  • Fully fund emergency fund again

CONTINUING EDUCATION

  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Read all the Harry Potter books (In process, on Book 5)
  • Read a variety of books from my TBR list each month (Forever in process, but trying to be more intentional about reading a diverse selection instead of just working my way through the list from oldest to newest.)
  • Take a macaron class

SELF

  • Finish painting bird picture
  • Choose books and puzzles (crosswords, Ken Ken, etc.) over mindless phone scrolling
  • Set intentional goals for enjoying each season: a food + a craft/project + a trip/outing (In process. Made a list for spring.)
  • Take a break to read mid-day (Kind of in process. Scheduling it daily, but it often gets pushed aside to finish other tasks.)
  • Take a should-less day each quarter
  • Get a massage once a quarter (Had one in January)
  • Create a seasonal uniform
  • Sleep in nice pajamas
  • Try meditation
  • Go bird watching and take photos at Rookery Preserve

TRAVEL

  • Spain (2014. I’m totally counting a previous trip of this magnitude!)
  • Canada
  • Grand Canyon with kids
  • New York City with Elena
  • Washington, DC with kids/see the cherry blossoms
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Go back to 30A beaches with Mike
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • See a football game in Green Bay
  • Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Tube down a river or creek
  • Hike in Turkey Run
  • Try cross-country skiing
  • Go to an all-inclusive resort with kids
  • Acadia National Park
  • See the northern lights
  • Take a cruise with kids
  • Mackinac Island
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Music festival with Mike
  • Book retreat
  • Rent a beach house for more than a week
  • Rent a cabin in Hocking Hills, Ohio
  • Take kids to Great Wolf Lodge

HEALTH/FITNESS

  • Run a 5k with Eli
  • Ride my bike to places instead of driving when I can
  • Get down to the 140s in my 40s
  • Try yoga with Elena

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Have a monthly date with Mike (Haven’t missed a month yet this year!)
  • Make once-a-month Sunday dinner with my parents and sister a routine (Got everyone to agree on last Sunday of the month.)
  • Organize an 80th birthday party for my parents
  • Eat at Bluebeard with friends when we can sit outside
  • Watch a Colts game with my sister
  • Go through the 36 Questions with Mike
  • Host a Christmas book exchange with my book club (We did a Blind Date with a Book gift exchange and it went over very well. Hopefully a new tradition!)
  • Take more photos at family gatherings
  • Take a day off during the week with Mike
  • Meet Mike for lunch once a month (Haven’t missed a month yet this year!)
  • Host a progressive dinner (Helped organize and hosted in my neighborhood. A little too stressful for my taste, but I’m glad I did it.)
  • Perfect a meal to take to friends in need
  • Get better at gift-giving and surprising with small treats
  • Spend weekend with my niece and her family
  • Have friends over to watch a football game

PARENTING

  • Be consistent with screen rules
  • Take more candid photos of the kids
  • Spend one-on-one time with each kid at least once per month (Haven’t missed a month yet!)
  • Try fondue as a family
  • Explore new cuisines with the kids (In process. Took Elena to Chinese restaurant this month.)
  • Take the kids on the canal paddle boats
  • Movie night once a month, rotating who picks (Haven’t missed a month yet!)
  • Make an apple slab pie with Elena
  • Work through the “Do You Know?” questions at dinner
  • Have “the talk” with Eli and revisit with Elena

MISCELLANEOUS

  • See “Hamilton” (Saw it in January 2017 in Chicago. Worth every single penny.)
  • Be a guest on the What Should I Read Next podcast
  • Volunteer with ARPO
  • Volunteer with Second Helpings
  • Be a regular at Sun King and try more new beers
  • Foster a dog
  • See all the movies nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture in 2017 (Saw 5 of 8 before Oscars, working on other 3.)
  • Participate in Indy Food Swap
  • Eat fried chicken at Mississippi Belle
  • Eat at Milktooth
  • Take Gus to Marott Park
  • Meet Peyton Manning
  • Build a gingerbread house from scratch

Have you ever made a list like this? If not, I strongly encourage you to  start one! It really makes you think about what’s interesting and important to you. What are a few things that would be on your list of 100 dreams?

 

 

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You Have More Time Than You Think: How a Time Study Brought Balance Into My Life

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2016 was the year when it seemed that my productivity goals all seemed to fall into place. I’m an odd mix of a productivity junkie (anything with the keywords “be more productive” or “get things done” is like click-bait to me) and a dreamer. Sometimes I dream about big things, sometimes I’m a fiend about getting little things done, but rarely have those big dreams and little things intersected into anything that resembles a balance of accomplishment.

Something clicked when I read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. For years I told myself that when X, Y, or Z happened, I’d finally have time to do the big (and little) things I wanted to do. When Eli goes to school full-time, I’ll be able to really launch my blog. When I stop spending so much time blogging, I’ll get my photos organized. When I finish this project, I’ll get my writing career off the ground. I know we’ve all said similar things, only to find that we’re no further along. Those extra magical hours never materialized.

Vanderkam encourages readers to conduct a time study on themselves. For a minimum of one week (which contains 168 hours), you are to write down everything you do and how long it takes you to do it. Sleeping, eating, watching TV, commuting, housework, scrolling through Facebook … it all gets accounted for. I did this for a week last summer and it was so incredibly informative. Some things were good. I get an average of 8 hours of sleep a night. I exercise roughly 4 hours a week. I don’t spend excessive time in the car or watching television. On the flip side, I spent more hours than necessary on housework, email, social media and, oddly enough, socializing.

After you conduct a time study and know where you can cut back to create pockets of time, Vanderkam suggests making a list of 100 dreams. These are things you’ve always wanted to do, from the very big (Go to Paris!) to the very small. (Put our Disney photos in an album.) Creating extra time in your week is wonderful, but what purpose does it serve if you don’t spend it intentionally? And how can you be intentional about the way you spend your time if you don’t identify what’s important to you?

Once you have your list in hand and a general idea of how you spend your time vs. what can be minimized, Vanderkam recommends planning your week using the strategy of block scheduling. Listing out the hours in the day, you give a name to how you’ll spend those hours. For someone who lived by a never-ending to-do list, this was revolutionary. I’d make lists with items like fold laundry, meal plan, write, email Lisa, call Amy. Then the laundry would never end, or the email would turn into 10 emails, which would bleed into a few minutes on Pinterest … you get the idea. Things that had to get done got done, of course. We always had meals on the table, clean underwear, and phone calls returned. But those nebulous, dreamy plans or those someday maybe projects never got started. I mean, who has the time, right? It’s one of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood: “Something that can be done at any time is often done at no time.”

How block scheduling helped me organize my days and reach my dreams.

I’ll go deeper into block scheduling in a future post, but for now here’s the gist. I plan out the week with goals in mind for my 4 necessary life categories: work, home, self, and relationships. I have 3-4 goals for each, and as I plan out each day, I schedule blocks of time to work on those things – and only those things.

Making my list of 100 dreams was both a fun and useful way to get a bigger picture of what really mattered to me. What stood out was that my big dreams involve travel, creating a cozy home in which we are surrounded by meaningful things, getting the most out of my time with the kids while they’re still around, and finding creative work that satisfied me while helping us reach our financial and travel goals.

When those things are laid out there, you have a more clear picture of how you want to spend your time. I keep coming back to housework, because apparently I have a strange issue with doing too much housework. (I spent a whopping 24.75 hours in a week cleaning, cooking and doing laundry. AN ENTIRE DAY OF MY LIFE EVERY WEEK. Even I recognize that’s not normal.) Would I like to spend 6 of those 24 hours folding every last sock and polishing the toaster? Or would my 6 hours be better spent on a baby step that will get me closer to my big goals and dreams?

I started block scheduling on a (mostly) regular basis in mid-October, and a few months in I see a dramatic difference in my quality of life. I feel more balanced. I feel a satisfaction in my work and personal life I haven’t felt in, well, ever. I have a sense of peace about my days – I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing at exactly the time I’m doing it. It’s far from perfect. I still have weeks where it feels like I’ve been derailed and nothing gets done. I still have to fight urges to engage in time wasters. But I feel progress and hope, which feels pretty darn good.

Just for fun, I’ll share my list of 100 dreams in the next post. Then I’ll do a deep dive into my block scheduling process so you can give it a try as well. For now I’d love to know: what would you do with a few extra hours every week?

 

 

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Looking Back, Looking Forward: What Worked for Me in 2016

Leaf Unfurling

Photo credit: Elena Six, who has fallen in love with my camera much to my delight!

As I head into 2017 I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on 2016. I’ve always been one to set some intentions or goals for the year ahead, and I really enjoy the self-reflection that goes hand-in-hand with planning for a new year. This year I took it a step further and gave myself a little end-of-year review before coming up with new goals for 2017. It was a good reminder to think about what didn’t go so well in 2016. What didn’t work? And more importantly, do I want to put the effort and energy into making those things that floundered work for me in 2017? I thought it might be fun to share what worked for me in 2016, what didn’t work, and what I hope to carry into 2017.

What Worked For Me in 2016

List of 100 Dreams

This comes directly from Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It’s an exercise the author learned from a career coach. The idea being that in order to do more of what you love in your life, you should know what you love and what you’d liked to do. Think of it like a detailed bucket list. Some people like to divide theirs into categories (personal, work, travel, etc). I just wrote mine out, and continue to add to it as I think of things. (If there’s any interest, I’m happy to share my list.) Having this list made goal-setting easier this year, and knowing what I’d like more of in my life gave me something to actively work towards when I started using the next thing on this list …

Block Scheduling

Block Scheduling Journal

Which is block scheduling, another handy tool I implemented from Vanderkam’s book. I’ve tried lots of different time-management tools, from lists to timers to apps. None of them have stuck, but block scheduling is here to stay. Monday through Friday I spend a few minutes the evening before planning the next day. In a little journal I list the hours of the day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in 30 increment blocks. From there, I fill in how I’d like to spend my day. I started doing this after I did a week-long time study on myself and realized I spend too much time doing some tasks (like housework, looking at my phone and email), and very little time doing things that really matter (creative work, unfinished projects, quality time with my spouse). It help keeps me on task, and requires me to be intentional about how I spend my time. If there’s something I really want to accomplish from my list of dreams, I know I need to take baby steps towards them by scheduling in time to work on those goals. It also keeps me balanced. As I schedule my time, I’m cognizant of making sure I schedule time for relationships, work and self.

Personal Training

Speaking of self, I took a step in a new direction in the fall. I’ve done a good job making exercise a habit in the last year or so. But after doing several rounds of Bikini Body Mommy challenges, I was starting to feel a little frustrated about my progress. I was also starting to get a little burnt out. My neighbor organized a weekly morning workout in our cul-de-sac with a personal trainer last September, and these workouts kicked my butt! The trainer mentioned that she was going to organize a 5-week holiday boot camp starting the week of Thanksgiving, so I gave it a try. She emailed me 5 workouts per week and gave me nutritional goals to strive for. As an obliger, knowing that someone was expecting me to work out and check in with my nutritional wins and losses really helped me stick to the program. As a result, I got through the holidays feeling really strong and healthy. I’m sticking with it through the new year and I think it’s going to make a big difference in my health and fitness.

Bullet Journaling

I love my paper planner, but when I finished my last one in July (it was a weird school-year one) I bit the bullet journal bug. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a regular planner. I love how bullet journaling is so flexible and completely customizable to exactly what your needs are. My bullet journal isn’t fancy or pretty, but it serves me well. I keep a weekly spread, a monthly task list, and a log of the books I want to read. I’m trying my own Happiness Project this year, so I just set up a spread to keep track of those goals, but otherwise? That’s it. If you’ve been thinking about making the switch my advice is to just jump in. It might not be pretty in the beginning, but you’ll figure it out.

Taking a Break From Blogging

This was so good for me. I didn’t realize how much time and energy I’d put into blogging, nor how much the task of keeping up with social media was draining me. It’s helped me clarify what I want going forward – more on that down below!

Shouldless Days

I plan on continuing this vital piece of self-care. My goal in 2017 is to schedule one Shouldless Day per quarter.

What Didn’t Work For Me in 2016

Accumulating Stuff

I’m normally great at purging, but this year my plan went awry. For the longest time I participated in a local kids’ consignment sale, and I’d get rid of most of the kids’ outgrown clothing and toys this way. It started to feel like too much work, and so I quit. I also didn’t have a garage sale last year. I have a hard time sending things to Goodwill I feel like I can get some decent money back for, so I started accumulating things thinking I could sell them on the Facebook Marketplace. The only problem? I have the worst luck with Facebook Marketplace. As I write this, I have a pair of Bogs boots I can’t get rid of – every single person that says they want them flakes out and doesn’t pick up. Of course, this plays out over several days and takes forever! This year I need a better plan. Any ideas?

Tracking Steps

I set a goal of getting 10,000 steps in at least 5 days a week. I was doing really well with this goal – most weeks I’d hit 10,000 five or six days a week. The problem? I took 10,000 steps as a justification to not push myself physically and as a license to eat whatever I wanted. I mean, I was moving every day, right? I now know that I need to focus on nutrition and more challenging workouts if I want to really improve my health.

Stitch Fix

I ordered a couple of Fixes this year, as well as peeked into the offerings in my neighbor’s box (we’re about the same size). Every time I’ve been disappointed. I’m not sure if the quality has fallen off or if I’m just getting better and buying my own things. Often I end up feeling like I need to keep at least one thing so I don’t lose my styling fee, and then I end up not wearing the one thing I bought. I’m done with subscription clothing boxes in 2017.

Red wine

This one is so sad! Red wine and I are not friends anymore. Anyone else over 40 notice this? If I have more than one glass, I wake up with a raging headache the next morning. It’s only red wine. (Thank God!) I can still have enough white wine or beer to make me fun.

Looking Forward

In another first for me, I came up with my word for the year: essential. In 2017 I’m striving to organize my days around what is essential to me: relationships, contributions (work or otherwise) and self. When choosing how to spend my time, money and energy I hope to be able to sift through the excess and allow only the essential things to filter through.

I’m also going to give my own yearlong Happiness Project a try, focusing on career, health, possessions, organizing, marriage, parenting, finances, time, writing, challenge, atmosphere and friendship (one category per month).

As for the blog? After stepping a way a bit, I realized that this little space and community are important to me, but in a different way than it was before. For so long, I wanted this to blog to define me as a person and as a career. Now I see it for what it started as: a creative outlet and a way to connect. I’m cultivating some wonderful freelance clients with whom I can use my writing and social media skills to further my career. That leaves me with this lovely little corner to fill as I like, without pressure to make money or sell myself as a brand. I’m full of hope and enthusiasm for what lies ahead!

What worked for you in 2016? Is there anything that didn’t work for you that you’re ready to shed?

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