List of 100 Dreams update, and a giveaway

IMG_2858Some call April the cruelest month, but to me the evening light and gentle warmth speak together of possibility. It is a time for dreaming. It is a time for making plans.

Longtime readers know I advocate making a list called the List of 100 Dreams. This is a completely unedited list of anything you might want to do or have in life. I got the idea from career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine years ago, and the brilliance of it is that it forces you to really think. Many people start a bucket list but they stop at about #25 (after thinking up the 25 countries they want to visit). When you are aiming to think of 100 things, you think of the big and small. And that's great, because while you can certainly plan for the big stuff, you can also do a lot of the small stuff quickly. Naming your desires moves them into the active planning part of your brain. You start to try stuff. You might not like all of it! (Ceniza-Levine wanted to take a sewing class…and then she hated it). But this self-knowledge is great. It takes things from the realm of what if to knowing truly who you are.

I wrote my most recent List of 100 Dreams in June, 2015. I recently revisited the list to see what I had crossed off in the past two years. My update is below, but in the meantime, I want to nudge you to cross some things off your list!

The List of 100 Dreams Challenge: In the comments, tell me one item on your bucket list, or List of 100 Dreams, that you've managed to cross off in the recent past. Tell how you made it happen. I'll draw a number randomly from the comments and that commenter will win a signed copy of Bianca Bosker's Cork Dork, a book about how she achieved that bucket list item of becoming a master sommelier. (It's good! You can read the NY Times review here.) Comments will close (for purposes of the giveaway) at midnight, eastern time, on Wednesday April 5.

Now to my updates!

#5 - Paris plus the French countryside. I didn't make it into the countryside, other than the ride from the airport, but I did go to Paris twice in 2016. How crazy is that? I could have become a member at the Louvre.

#12 - eat lobster by the sea in Maine. My husband and I took an adults-only trip to Acadia and Bar Harbor, Maine, in July 2016. It was lovely. I felt so "off the clock" that I was inspired to propose a book by that name. Coming out in spring 2018!

#20 - I reminded myself to put New Orleans on the travel list. I will be going in May to speak at Inc magazine's GrowCo. If you're coming to the conference, please let me know. I would love to say hello in person.

#22 - do a long, beautiful bike ride. I did 20 miles along the Lehigh River Gorge Trail outside Jim Thorpe this fall. I plan to do the bike ride again this spring/summer. Now that I know that my bike can fit in the back of my SUV, there's really nothing stopping me from doing this more frequently.

#28 - hire a personal chef for a while. The new nanny who joined us in summer of 2016 took over weekday cooking duties, so I achieved the goal of this one.

#29 - upgrade home decoration. I did the two bathrooms and the kitchen lighting that were driving me crazy. Nothing else is so urgent. Tanya Davis (the artist mentioned in this item) has not painted any more strawberries, but I did get to meet her in person when I stopped by the Torpedo Factory in August, 2016.

#35 - buy a speaking dress I feel amazing in. I don't know about feeling amazing, but given the number of blue sheath dresses I have collected over the past two years, I kind of need to stop myself from buying speaking dresses at this point.

#37 - visit an art museum monthly. I don't know if I've quite hit monthly, though 2 Louvre visits in 2016 isn't bad. Plus visits to the Met, and Philly's art museum several times. I went to a water color exhibit at the Philly art museum last week when I took a long lunch break. And I plan to go to the Brandywine art museum combined with a Longwood Gardens trip sometime soon.

#45 - buy a swimsuit I really like. I now own a fun blue and coral Tommy Bahama bikini.

#46 - get a better headshot. Love this one from Yana Shellman!

_LauraVanderkam_highres#56 - get better at my keynote speech and market it. I could do better at the marketing part, but I am pretty happy with my keynote, and giving it has become a big part of my actual job.

#59 and #60 — attend another women's conference and fodder-finding conferences like MAKERS. I think TED Women, Fortune MPW Next Gen, and SXSW count here.

#72 - take more family photos. I just scheduled another session!

#73 - become more of a children's book connoisseur. I do read quite a bit to my children, and what I've noticed, from random books we check out at the library, is that a lot of children's books aren't that good. My kids are good at sussing this out. My 5-year-old thought one had cute pictures and when we read it she said "You know mommy, that was a really boring book." But there are some that are good. In terms of ones my kids ask again and again for, the only celebrity-written one that can hold water is Julianne Moore's Freckleface Strawberry series (fun fact: the illustrator, LeUyen Pham, makes an appearance in What the Most Successful People Do at Work). We are also big fans of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Gruffalo, Ladybug Girl, and Petunia, the Girl Who Was NOT a Princess.

img_2347#75 - make and decorate a doll house. See this Frozen castle.

#77 - create one-on-one adventures with each kid. I'm not sure if I'm hitting once a quarter, but the Mommy Days last summer, and my various adventures with the 9-year-old (NYC, zoo) were fun.

#79 - maintain and expand my sitter portfolio. Doing pretty good on this. I have become much better at figuring out what coverage we need.

#84 - go on regular date nights, sometimes to creative things. We've got a "Brew at the Zoo" night coming up in June. That might count.

#86 - chaperone more field trips. I have done 2 or so per year. It's a good way to volunteer with the kids' schools and do something fun with the kids at the same time.

#87 - pick strawberries and apples yearly. Haven't missed a season in a while! It's about 7 weeks to strawberry picking time. Public service announcement: Remember the berry season is short.

#90 - take more walks with the kids. I have walked the 5-year-old to school a few times and hope to more as the weather gets nicer. It's only half a mile, and if I leave right after the boys get on the bus I can be back right around 9 a.m. to start work. I just need to hold myself accountable for doing this twice a week or so.

#94 - keep going with my time log. I am almost two years in. I will hit 2 years on April 20.

A lot of stuff hasn't happened, of course. I am not playing the piano more regularly or singing in a choir, even though I quite miss that. My kids are no better at eating in restaurants than they were. Not that many of the writing goals have been happening either. But the list can change over time, and I will be at this for a while too I suppose.

Tell me about an item on your List of 100 Dreams, and how you achieved it. Remember, I will pick a comment randomly (by number) and send you a signed copy of Cork Dork!

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53 Responses to List of 100 Dreams update, and a giveaway


  1. Sucheta says:

    I love reading your blogs and especially this one was truly inspiring.. Two of my top 10 to-do was to have a baby and cycle to office.. Both came true in the last two years but not in the order i expected.. I gave birth to a lovely baby girl and then we bought a bicycle 6 months after her..so now my goal is to go cycling atleast 2 times a month, and I have been able to do that for the past 3 months..and I hope to build up on that!! Fingers crossed!!

  2. Kt says:

    I like Pernille Ripp’s blog and instagram for kid book recommendations. She’s a teacher and mom.

  3. Kt says:

    Forgot to do the giveaway – I’ve actually found that I do a mini version of the 100 Dreams for the holiday season. Granted, I’m more list and scheduling driven than most but it’s similar to your weekend philosophy. I make a list of the holiday activities we want to do as a family (from as small as simmering orange peels and cinnamon sticks on the stove for the fragrance to as big as specific holiday performances we want to attend) around Halloween time and then start slotting them into days in December so that things don’t get too overwhelming once we get to the actual month of Christmas. We also have my spouse’s call schedule to deal with so I’m used to planning family activities around that and my own work schedule.

  4. Kristin says:

    I recently visit Vancouver, which has been on my list for a while. It’s an amazing city!

  5. Amy S says:

    I wanted to qualify and run the Boston Marathon after having my 2nd baby. I qualified in 2015 and ran it last year!

    • Angela says:

      That is so awesome! Congrats!

    • SHU says:

      AMAZING! I’d love to do that some day but I think I may need to wait until my kids are in college before i can train enough to get there (I lack talent and the only way I have a shot is with significant mileage and managing magically not getting hurt 🙂 )

  6. Nicole says:

    I was recently able to cross “adopt a puppy” off of my list of 100 dreams. The hardest part was convincing my husband to agree. Since he travels a lot for work, I was able to convince him that I could use the company and would be doing most of the work involved in caring for the puppy. Last October we brought home our smooth coated Jack Russell Terrier mix from the Stray Animal Adoption Program. He is a handful! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  7. Claire says:

    Plant Based Eating; how I did it… found inspiration in research and Rich Roll and meal planning and prep on Sunday!

    • I just started working on plant based eating again. I took a break while I was pregnant last year. I really love Michael Pollan’s books.

  8. Ashley Barutt says:

    One of my goals was to become a certified Mandarin Chinese language speaker/reader/writer. I took the certification test last month and I am waiting to see if I passed!

  9. B says:

    Completed in 2017 from my list of 100 dreams —

    2. Take my toddler to aquarium (2.5 hr drive). I had to reschedule this twice due to snow and illness but finally got it in! As a bonus we discovered that we could do it as a day trip so feeling like we have a 2.5 hr range now is such a relief vs baby days.

    21. Attend women’s leadership conference. I attended a local women’s leadership luncheon, which unfortunately was lame, and then an amazing women’s luncheon at an industry conference. So haven’t attended an entire conference (suggestions?) but feel like I got pretty close.

    25. Have a knitting group. Have completely failed at doing this locally, but got a group going on Google Hangouts. Some technical bumps in the road because there were too many of us for video, but nice problem to have.

    41. Complete a woodworking project with my husband. Built a toddler tower! We got a babysitter for the afternoon and set our perfectionist tendencies aside. Babysitter thought it was a weird date – she suggested several ways we could get out of the house – but we had fun.

  10. Sarah K says:

    We moved into a new house last August and we’ve checked off a lot of to-do items related to the house: repainted 4 rooms, replaced a bunch of can lights that were shorting out, made good progress on some major yardwork projects, and hired a carpenter to build a bar in the basement!

  11. Lily says:

    I finished my masters degree! It had been on my bucket list for a long time – I’d expected to start within a few years of undergrad but life had (many) other plans. Graduation day felt amazing 🙂

  12. Sydney B says:

    My husband and I finally went to visit the Barnes foundation (highly recommend!) and followed that up with lunch at pizzeria Vetri.

    I also finally have an updated headshot where I look reasonably nice and professional.

    We visited my husband’s in-laws in Italy and left our daughter with them and her cousin to travel to Sorrento for two days, where we also saw Pompei.

  13. There are two big things I can think of:

    I’ve always, always, always wanted to join a book club but I didn’t like any of their rules, so this year I started my own with 4 others. It is the most fun ever!

    Last year, without planning to do so at that time, we bought our dream house. It has been amazing and I thank God that I get to live here every day.

  14. Connie Corey says:

    One item was a weekend away with Hubs. That happened twice in 2016. Woot!

  15. Dana says:

    I had long wanted to move closer to work to shorten my commute. We did it last summer, about a month before my second child was born. It has made a huge difference in my life, and I’m so glad we did it.

  16. Amanda says:

    I finally signed myself up for swimming lessons at the gym and as of last Monday, I can swim! Learning to swim was #10 on my list. I’m amazed by how much I enjoy it and wish it hadn’t taken me so long to sign up for lessons. I also signed up my 3 year old and he is slowly getting acclimated to the water.

  17. Angela says:

    I ran over the Bay Bridge in Maryland in a 10k Race. This item has been on my ‘dream’ list since I started running races in 2014. I am terrified of heights, but I am in awe of this bridge. I told several friends I wanted to run it, but last year while participating in a local 6k race on the 4th of July I met a group of local women that meet during the week to run in the mornings. I became part of their group and they had previously run the bridge, and we planning to do so again. So I had a group to train with and keep me accountable. But I almost did not run in this race. My husband signed up to run with me also, since he knew it was an important race for me ( and a huge fear as well). The night before the race something happened with our child care plans and I was not sure I would go- but at 4 a.m. the morning of I chose to face my fear and not lean on my excuse. I am so glad I did. : )

  18. Cynthia says:

    Ran 1.5 miles at a pace that would allow me to qualify as a federal law enforcement officer – only three months after having a baby. Maintaining my running at some level of fitness has been an important goal to me over the years, so making this milestone (several friends are in law enforcement so I like using their standards) was huge when I couldn’t run for most of my pregnancy. I got carried away and signed up for my fourth half marathon later this year, something I always say I am done with after I finish a race! My goal for this one might just be to finish in one piece.

  19. Linda M says:

    I always wanted to take a hot air balloon ride. We finally did it a year and a half ago. The landing was a little bumpy and I broke my ankle in 3 places. Instead of the champagne breakfast after the ride, I ended up with an ambulance ride (that was not on my list of dreams!) I ended up with surgery, unable to walk or work for 8 weeks! Not quite how I imagined it. The good news is I’m all recovered and did one of my dream hikes last summer.

  20. CNM says:

    I wrote out my list a year or 2 ago. One thing I’ve crossed out is “learn calligraphy.” I crossed it out because I realize that I’m not all that interested in learning proper calligraphy! I’ve instead made an effort to do more creative lettering in my journal.

    • ARC says:

      Same here! I took a ‘Modern Calligraphy’ class at our local craft store and realized that it wasn’t what I had in mind. So I’ve bought a couple of hand lettering books and practice (poorly) in my Bullet Journal 🙂

      • CNM says:

        I checked out a few calligraphy books from the library and was not into all the supplies. So, i just looked at the pretty letters and emulated them free hand with a regular old pen. Works pretty darn well!

  21. Jammy says:

    Inspired by this blog, I started my list of 100 dreams on May 29, 2012. Opened it up today for review – one item on my list was to have a lead role in a musical – I did that! Not only once but three times since writing my list. It helps to realize there are seasons for certain dreams – my kids are older now and I was able to commit to the rehearsal time for those short seasons. And I took the first step – actually auditioning. The last time I was even able to share the experience with my seventeen year old daughter. Adding that one to my “dream I didn’t know I had until it happened” list.

  22. Jennie says:

    I recently updated my list as some of my aspirations have changed and I had marked off quite a few. A new item on my list is to be able to shoot a 285 in Archery. I used to be quite good, but quit for a long while. Because I started coaching again, I want to be good again. (Can’t get shown up by the kids!)

  23. ARC says:

    I can’t find my list from 2015 🙁 but looking at last year’s, I’ve crossed off a few, though none earth shattering.
    –Complete 365 Photo Project in 2016
    –Get my 10 year service award at work (which involved returning as a full-timer)
    –Try out a subscription clothing service (nice, but not for me)
    –Get a Vitamix (yay!)
    –Get family photos done every year
    –Winter cabin vacation in the snow
    –Learn to play the drums (poorly)

  24. SHU says:

    I found my list inspired by you in 2013!!
    .
    http://www.theshubox.com/2013/11/planshopesdreamsaspirations.html
    .
    Accomplished:
    – Train for race w/ a coach
    – Redesign blog (though not radically)
    – Napa trip
    – Eat at French Laundry
    – Go on a girls weekend
    – Get to know miami restaurants
    – Be a provider that people ask for
    – Join a book club
    – Pass boards
    – Enjoy non-rushed mornings
    – Try a barre class
    – Meditate
    .
    I’m close to a few others too! I need to re-do this list. Thanks for inspiring the look-back!

  25. Diana says:

    I started my list of 100 dreams a few years ago, maybe after reading about it in one of your books?, but never got more than 15 things on it…up to 50 some after reading this post earlier today. Excited to come up with more ideas!

    • I haven’t written 100 yet either, but I love Laura’s reasoning so I’m going to work on making it longer!

  26. I finally started a blog. My goal/dream is to post regularly, at least 1-2 times a week for the rest of this year.
    My husband and I also set an ambitious goal to pay off a big chunk of our debt by the end of this year.

    • Angela says:

      Very cool! I will check out your blog!

  27. Ruth says:

    From my list – go skiing. It had been about 15 years since I last skied, and one of my friends sent out an email blast asking whether anyone was interested in a women’s ski clinic 3 hours away. We went and it was AMAZING. Yes, I CAN still ski. After the first hour of utter panic, and some great coaching, everything suddenly clicked back into place.

  28. Rebekah says:

    I started writing my list of 100 dreams several years ago, inspired by you. I haven’t looked at the list in ages, but was intrigued at what I saw. It’s such a fun and useful exercise. One big and one small accomplishment:
    1) Pay off our house within 5 years. Done. Can’t believe it, actually.

    2) Get regular pedicures, especially in the summer. Done. This is now an ingrained habit for me and I love it. I love looking down at my tidy and brightly colored toes.

  29. Monica says:

    Just want to say that it’s incredibly inspiring to read all the comments on this post of all the wonderful big and small things that everyone has accomplished even with kids, husbands, mortgages, and work responsibilities. You all kick serious butt!!!

  30. Ahlia says:

    Looking at the list I made I kind of want to revamp it… I don’t have enough “small” or “absurd” things that could be easy to do, but completely out of my comfort zone to try…
    1. I took a cooking class — birthday present to my mom, me and my sister tagged along. I really enjoy these, especially when wine is liberally distributed through out the class 2. Disney World — planned and booked it 3. Complete a Triathlon — signed up for group training.
    <<>>

  31. Sonya says:

    I haven’t put together a list of 100 Dreams, but about 25 years ago I did write a list of things I wanted to do in my life and when I looked back on it a few years ago, I had either accomplished or crossed-off (was no longer interested in pursuing) most of the list. It was amazing how many things I had done, which seemed impossible when I wrote the list. This post has inspired me to start a new list! One thing I have done in the last year that was important to me was to start dancing again. Dance has been a life long passion for me. I was able to work out a step dancing class (new form of dance for me) that fit with my daughter’s highland dance class schedule and I’m loving it!

  32. Kimberly Lute says:

    A couple items I completed from my List of 100 Dreams:
    – reading more often. I started reading more, including some fiction books for fun. That has been relaxing!
    – rode our wave runners on the lake this summer. We have taken our two daughters out with us on them, and have enjoyed our time together.

  33. Connie says:

    I attended the Winterblast Pyrotechnics Show over Presidents Day weekend at Lake Havasu, Arizona. The fabulous fireworks show is held annually and one may learn more at http://www.golakehavasu.com.

  34. Kathleen says:

    My favorites are giving goals, from the small (leave a $100 tip on a small breakfast bill) to the large (build 5 houses for families in Haiti – 4 of 5 done)! So much fun!

    • Angela says:

      Wow- Those are fantastic- so thoughtful and caring- I am going to incorporate that act of kindness into my list! Thank you for sharing!

  35. Cate says:

    * Set up an Etsy shop: done!
    * Join the other members of my family in having performed on stage – Currently rehearsing with a choir to support some visiting musicians in May 🙂
    Well done all for your achievements!

  36. Jennifer A Lewis says:

    Get a promotion has been on my list and I earned one last March. I am currently working on a larger, more obscure item: do what makes you happy.

  37. Meredithh says:

    Go back to England.

    Also, keep adding to my list. I will have to edit it, as maybe there are duplicates- but I keep in my notes section so I can add to it when I think of ” oh I should do that!” quickly add to it to the list.

    I also accomplished one small item- but a new cell phone. My old one wwas giving up the ghost- and I desperately wanted one where I could download new apps that my old one could no longer do.

    Small things matter but crossed it off the list!

  38. Taryn says:

    I’ve been meeting my list goals for planning a girls trip (Mexico in Oct), reading more for professional development and taking more relaxing baths!

  39. Olivia says:

    Love this! I’m going to write myself one today.

    When you cross things off do you add another thing right away or wait a while and do a big update all at once?

  40. Jamey says:

    I missed the giveaway but we had family pictures taken for the first time recently no small feat with five kids! I need to remake my list though. As far as children’s books go you should look for some published by Usborne or Kane Miller.

  41. Nancy says:

    I have always wanted to travel to Provence and found a small travel group from Chicago (1.5 hrs from where I live) going there in May . I singed up to go as a single and optimistic that I will meet some interesting new friends.

  42. Jenny says:

    Hi!
    This comment is to let you know I completed my list of 100 dreams over the weekend! I went back to read your post and realized I didn’t organize into categorues but just went ahead and did a brain dump! Most interesting to me was sharing with my husband and hearing his reaction. In retrospect it may have been good to break into work family etc. ( do I have enough about my kids?!?) but I’m still really excited I did this. I’d love more posts on how often you update list, look at it and utilize it in planning. Hoping to cross off some items in next few months!!

    • @Jenny – so exciting! Good for you for getting all the way to 100. I probably look at mine once a year or so, and think about what might be worth doing. Especially as I think about vacation planning — those tend to offer the opportunity to knock off at least one a year. Here’s hoping you knock off several!

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