Welcome to List of 100 Dreams week

Many years ago, while writing 168 Hours, I came across a fabulous exercise. Career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine mentioned that she had her clients produce something called a “List of 100 Dreams.” This is a completely un-edited list of anything one might want to do, have, or spend more time on in life.

These could be travel goals, career goals, personal goals, or just general things that would be fun to do or possess. While plenty of people start a bucket list at some point, the upside of aiming for 100 Dreams is that it’s kind of…tough. Getting to 100 often requires coming back to the list several times. And while the first third or so tend to be big, longterm dreams (go to New Zealand!) by the last third it might be items like visiting a state park an hour away, writing a white paper on a topic that fascinates you, or owning a nice pair of pajamas. We’re talking fairly doable dreams.

Anyway, I find such a list useful for two reasons. First, when people walk around with the story that “I have no time,” they often don’t think of things they’d like to do with their time. Then, when leisure time (or potential high-impact time at work) appears, they are not prepared to seize it. It is spent in mindless ways that aren’t particularly memorable. A List of 100 Dreams offers options. If the weekend schedule looks particularly light, maybe you could visit that state park. If a work trip gets canceled, maybe you can work on that white paper instead of cleaning out your inbox (again).

The second reason is a bit more complicated, but still has to do with the stories we tell ourselves about time. Sometimes, in a busy life, what we’re not doing winds up garnering more power than it deserves.

Ceniza-Levine had been telling herself for years that she wanted to learn to sew — if only she had time! Then she decided to work through her list. She took a sewing class. She found out she hated sewing. That’s a lot of freed up mental energy. Whether she had time or not, she wasn’t going to be sewing. Good to know!

Anyway, I’ll be talking a lot about Lists of 100 Dreams on the blog this week. This week’s Best of Both Worlds episode is devoted to the topic (Sarah made such a list after reading 168 Hours in 2010!). I’ll be sharing some items I’ve crossed off, some I’ve decided to let go of, and some new ones I’m adding.

These lists are always fluid, partly because putting really easy ones on the list nudges me to do them! I bought a new rain coat. I set a date to take family photos. We redid the guest room. And I signed on to be a homeroom parent.

Now I just need to get to New Zealand…

Have you ever made a List of 100 Dreams (or a bucket list of any sort)?

Weekend highlights: My husband, my mother-in-law, and I had tickets to Philly’s CiderFest, which was a tour of the historic houses in Fairmont Park (e.g. Strawberry Mansion, Laurel Hill, etc.) combined with tastings of local ciders. It was a beautiful early fall day, and while there were some hiccups (the buses were supposed to run every 15 minutes but we once waited 30, and the last house ran out of cider…) it was a nice way to spend an afternoon. We also made it through the 9-year-old’s birthday party. Go-karts, laser-tag, 16 little boys running around an arcade…oh my.

20 thoughts on “Welcome to List of 100 Dreams week

  1. I love this exercise and have done it myself. It was surprising how hard it was to reach 100! This spring I put my list into Trello and broke up the dreams by time frame – this year, within three years, within ten years, within my life. It was a nice way to view my bucket list and it motivated me to get moving on some things that I’ve always wanted to do but needed some preparation to master. For instance, finally being able to do pull-ups and learning to drive a stick shift!

    1. @Missy- I love the idea of breaking it up by time – sometimes it’s helpful to know that there are things you want to do in the next 10 years but not right now. The travel component of the list is especially good that way.

    2. Good idea to use Trello! The timeframe issue is also sometimes an issue for me. I sometimes feel an urgency to do everything in a relatively short timeframe but some projects are just realistically impossible right now. But that is not a reason to take them down the list. They’re just “on hold”!

    3. Oh, I LOVE the idea to use Trello. (I’m completely obsessed with Trello and use it for so many things. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it for this exercise.) It could be good for separating into theme buckets (work, family, health, travel, etc.)!

  2. This is kind of a fun idea! I like the idea of continuing to push yourself to reach the 100 dreams. I’ve created a bucket list, but the thing that seems to meld both the idea of the bucket list and the smaller little dreams is the 101 goals in 1001 days list, which I started doing this year. I don’t know who started it originally, but I have LOVED how much it’s pushed me to seize those little pockets of time like you mentioned!

  3. I had started a “fun projects” list (that was then renamed “100 dreams” after I read your book!) I have only written down 10 ideas so far but I have a bunch of other lists with ideas for day trips, travel destinations, books to read, films to watch, etc. I have always been a “list-addict” but to a point that they were stressing me out because I was obsessed with crossing things out. And I felt like they had to be done in a relatively short time frame. So now I try to rather see my fun lists as “catalogues” and, as you describe, something to pick from when I decide to plan something fun (which is not always a natural thing but that is another problem I am working on! :-/).

    1. @Ellie – I’ve heard this from a few people, like the idea of a list stresses them out. Once something is on the list, people feel they have to do it (immediately). I find this interesting. I guess calling it a “catalogue” can help with that. And also to remind ourselves that it’s only for us, and it’s over a whole lifetime.

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