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.