List Making

In which I reflect on the challenges of breaking a vision into 101 parts.

I got married during my last 101 project. I included living our first year of marriage with grace and joy as #37 on my first list. I completed that goal to my satisfaction, but the idea of “grace and joy” continued to crop up in my thoughts. Inadvertently, I had hit on a phrase that resonated with me.

I wanted it for my marriage, my friendships, my daily life. I wanted those qualities to describe my public and private actions. I wanted to work towards being a graceful and joyful person. My first 101 project led me to that conclusion. I had been creating the foundations in my post-college friendships, romantic relationship, first adult job.  Now I wanted to build on those foundations and define my life with qualities that I, frankly, covet in others.

But moving from the sweeping concept of pursuing grace and joy to 101 concrete and measurable goals was not an easy process. I read over my blog and journal from my previous list, I read over other people’s words that particularly struck me, and I thought a lot about the things I was frustrated with. And how I could fix them, or, if that wasn’t possible, how I could learn to deal with them.

I started keeping a collection of ideas for goals in a google document. I also wrote each one on a slip of paper and started making notes about it. Why I was considering including it. How long it would take. Whether it spoke to my desire for grace or for joy. I ended up with a collection of over 120 possibilities. In the end, I narrowed those goals down and added five or six new ones in the last days of 2010.

This process was spread over several months, and was not as intense as it seems put into the bald terms above. I suppose we always have the chance to reinvent ourselves, but 2011 was bringing me a golden one. I’ve just moved. I’m starting with a new company, but still able to telecommute from home. My friendships are flourishing, and I hope for opportunities to start some new ones as well. I was thrilled to be thinking of all the ways I could make the most of this period of change, knowing fully well that there will be more periods of change to follow. Working on my list was a way to revel in the feeling that anything is possible.

By breaking a feeling into 101 small steps, I guaranteed that I’ll make a lot of progress towards changing the overall feel of my life. Each goal challenges me to try actions or concepts on for size to see what feels right.  Will I be a person who focuses on taking care of myself as much as those around me? Can I whip up soups so tasty they become a wintertime staple? Will I become so efficient at managing my money that I stop worrying about it? Can I fill our home with productivity and laughter? I have no idea — but I sure am excited to find out.

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