Make a List of 100 Dreams (more on Rule #2: Plan on Fridays)

This week in the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, we’re focusing on Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. Anyone with a complex life needs a designated weekly planning time, and needs to look at all of life over the next 168 hours: career, relationships, self.

When many people thinking of “planning,” they think of what they have to do. And that is part of it. But an upside of planning a whole week, and thinking about your personal life as well, is that you can also plan in what you *want* to do.

Which sounds great! And some folks run with that instruction. But a surprising number of people have followed up with this statement: “I don’t really know what I want to do.” 

Enter the List of 100 Dreams. This was an exercise shared with me by career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine a great many years ago (I wrote about it in 168 Hours). The idea is to create a completely unedited list of anything you might want to do or have or generally spend more time on in life. The first third goes quickly as people list all the countries they want to visit and their general bucket list dreams. But then the pace slows, and you start really having to think. By the time you are anywhere near 100, you are listing some very doable goals.

You (probably) won’t go to New Zealand next week. But you could start a new 1000-piece puzzle. You won’t sing in the Bach B-Minor Mass in Carnegie Hall.* But you could make a play-list of truly ecstatic classical music to listen to in the school pick-up line.

So if you haven’t made a List of 100 Dreams, I highly encourage you to do so! And if you have, why not revisit it during your Friday planning? See if there’s anything you could aim to do over the next few weeks. Maybe not, but maybe there is, and as you start to put cool stuff into your schedule, life becomes a lot more fun. Let me know if you’ve pulled anything off your list lately!

*Unless you are, in which case let me know and I will come see you!

Photo: Seeing the cherry blossoms in spring in Washington D.C. is a great List of 100 Dreams item.

16 thoughts on “Make a List of 100 Dreams (more on Rule #2: Plan on Fridays)

  1. I made my list of 100 dreams after reading 168 Hours and selfishly would love to see a current/updated list of yours as a mom of five! I feel some of my goals have shifted since becoming a mom and I would love to incorporate more dreams I can do with kids in the nearer term (say, five years) in addition to the bigger bucket list items you mention that are more likely to happen when our kids are older. I know you have a full plate with a new book out (and the aforementioned five kids!) so no pressure whatsoever but thought I’d throw it out there! Thanks for all you do — love following along.

    1. @Mackenzie – I should probably work on some new lists! I think my last one was fall 2018. So definitely time to get going on that again. Stay tuned. And I appreciate your kind words.

  2. I’ve tried this exercise before, and so far, it hasn’t worked for me. I just can’t seem to come up with 100 dreams at one time. So I’m trying to turn this around. Instead of a list of 100 dreams, I have started a list of 100 accomplished dreams. Every time I do something that I feel qualifies as a ‘dream’, I add it to the list, and the goal is to get to 100 before the end of the year. So far I’ve managed things like : go to a live ballet performance, take a sewing class, go to meetings better prepared, make my own popcorn, go for a swim even though it’s winter etc. It seems to be working. It keeps me motivated to add small and little adventures into my weeks.

    1. @Elke – I’m glad you’ve come up with a version of this that works! It can be fun to make an accomplishments list and thus get “credit” for various cool things that happen. If it’s any help – I can’t come up with 100 at one time. I tend to revisit these lists for weeks before I have a full 100 things!

  3. I finished War & Peace, 1 month late but it’s done and I really enjoyed it (the military strategy at the very end was a slog)! Which was definitely on my dreams list.

    I feel like I’m pretty good at getting fun things into my life, so haven’t done a full 100 dreams list (perhaps because it brings up some bigger existential questions about where, as a family, we want to end up living… there are divides in the household). But I would like to make a big list of things to do in the place we are now.

    1. @Cb – a list of 100 dreams can be hard when there is some life ambiguity, but there are certainly things I’d like to do regardless of other things so I try to focus on those. And yes, the epilogue of W&P has some parts that are very much a slog. I read it and I’m like, Tolstoy– why??

  4. I have 98 items! However, some I won’t be able to do anymore, like visit a friend in the place she used to live, because, well, she moved away.
    How do the fun lists and 100 dreams relate to each other, Laura? Should the 100 dreams inform the fun list?

  5. Hi Laura. My question – once you’ve completed something on the 100 list – do you take it off the list and therefore there is a slot for something else, or do you re-do the 100 list and discard everything and only add back in what is relevant now. This has stumped me for a while and I appreciate this opportunity to ask your option. Thanks x

    1. @Lulu – I’ve made several. I made one in 2010 (with 168 Hours), in 2015, and in 2018. They have changed a lot has things become less relevant and go off the list, or in some cases I’ve done things. But sometimes I want to do things more than once! I wouldn’t mind going to Yellowstone in fall again! So I guess there is no one right approach, but it might help to make a new list every few years (especially if you haven’t looked at yours in a while).

  6. I love this task – I’ve done it solo with great success and also with my partner to help us think about mutual goals/dreams for our lives. When we’ve been in a bit of a rut it’s been helpful to go back to the list see what low-hanging fruit we can grab, or talk about a larger adventure – chatting about when we might try to go to Japan etc with the kids one day and what it’d take to get there doesn’t get us there immediately, but lays the groundwork. For partnered people I really recommend this approach!

  7. I just worked on my 100 Dreams. I am 78 and thought I would need to add some accomplishments to reach 100. I have always done goal setting every year and review on my birth day every month. In my first sitting I have 84 items. My list is heavy in relationships, legacy, travel, & learning. Material additions are minimal. I have enjoyed this. Listed in my Dump list journal.
    Thank you for the idea. I am working on the Tranquility by Tuesday habits.

  8. This is a great challenge for me as a newly retired person. It’s like a giant brainstorm of all the things I want to do, places I want to go, stuff I want to learn, experiences I want to have. And this works so well with the Plan on Friday practice. I’ve easily listed about 30 – but true to what Laura’s said it then gets harder and you have to dig deeper – and that is good! This is helping bring clarity and structure to my long term and short term planning.

    1. @Cynthia – this is definitely a great exercise if you’re newly retired. Time to figure out what to do with your time!

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