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Listicle Life

January 2, 2014

I decided that 2014 would be the year of lists. Last year was mostly about hanging on, not knowing if next week I’d be in the hospital or someone else would be, and just surviving past looming dangers. I liked writing lists and finishing things, not so much for finishing them but for setting out with them like a map to some new place.

I made an enormous spreadsheet with tabs for each goal the last week of December. My original list was about 30+ items, so I did end up narrowing it down. I started trying out some of the goals to see what I liked, and quickly discarded some. Pinterest and googling “52 week challenges” and the like helped give me some more ideas.

I also posted to Ask.Metafilter How to walk to Hobbiton and other 365/52 challenges to get some advice. The most directly useful points were:

  • Plan the whole list ahead
  • Prepare as much in advance for busy days
  • Build in some slack so you can skip a day or two and still continue
  • Public accountability (this goal and my family)

I like working for small rewards and colouring in dots, so I printed out a thousand tiny circles on a sheet of paper with a start date and have been circling each dot to give myself $1 for a 365-challenge, $5 for a 52 week challenge and $20 for a 12 month challenge. If I did them all in a year, it would be a lot but even if I only manage to do some of it, that’s still a chunk of change saved up. It’s not extra money so much as our half-hearted vacation fund that we keep meaning to save to. I’ve wanted very much to take the family on a very short trip to an island nearby and this would be enough to do that three times this year which is an extremely cheerful goal.

12 Months:

  • 12 chapters to write
  • 12 dresses to sew
  • 12 museums to visit
  • 12 plays and concerts to watch


52 Weeks

  • 52 baking challenges
  • 52 books of theology
  • 52 new braids
  • 52 Family Movie Nights
  • 52 handmade gifts
  • 52 One bite at a Time projects
  • 52 organizing challenges
  • 52 parks to visit (yes, there are more than 52 parks in Singapore!)
  • 52 poems to memorize
  • 52 songs to teach Maggie
  • 52 vegan recipes


365 days

  • 365 instagram photos
  • 365 Bible readings
  • 365 thank you letters
  • 365 walk home to Hobbiton (About 2,615km so that works out to about 7km a day)
  • 365 Mandarin lessons


I built slack into all of these things, and prepped ahead – book lists, recipes printed out, poems pinned to a wall, booking tickets and so on.

Best of all, I found a skinny purple notebook while I was looking for index cards that turned out to be a goal-setting journal. It’s called Plannerisms and is actually really bloody lovely. I write out the goals and then what I actually got done (and anything extra to cheer me up) to figure out how to get everything done, and the spreadsheet as a reference. I also put reminders into my online calendar so that I remember when to switch goal projects.

I don’t know if I’ll finish any of them. I don’t really care. It’s setting out to do them and discovering what I like on my lists that counts.

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