Just about a week ago, the deadline for my Feb 13, 2011 post came up. It was a pretty neat idea: rather than go with a “new year’s resolution” that is usually poorly-defined and craps out within the first couple months, or a “bucket list” with a nonexistent timeline for accomplishment, this addresses both issues. There are a large but manageable number of tasks to accomplish, and a time frame in which to accomplish them: 101 items in 1001 days.
The results were illuminating. You can see the final listing of items I did and didn’t accomplish, but rather than rehash them here, I want to confer a couple interesting tidbits I learned.
1: The only failure condition should be time.
One of the core guidelines to this whole process was that the tasks should be “measurable and clearly defined.” For the most part, I did this pretty well. But an important point that was implied but not explicitly stated is that the only failure condition should be the 1001-day deadline. It makes for pointless dead weight if certain tasks can be rendered completely unachievable halfway through the time period. See #41, #84, and any other points that require some sort of minimal time frame to complete.
Granted: the whole point of the 1001-day time frame is so you can accomplish tasks that take more than a day, a week, or perhaps even a month to fully check off. But my feeling is that it should be intrinsic to the task itself, rather than tacked onto the requirements that already specify an overall time frame. This may effectively eliminate recurring events, but the way I see it, getting the ball rolling is the hardest part. If you want to make it a recurring event, that’s extra credit; this list should be initiating the events in the first place.
2: A lot changes in 1001 days.
It’s nice that one has 1001 days to accomplish not-insignificant tasks, to push one’s limits and comfort zones a little (always a good thing). But interests and priorities can shift practically overnight, to say nothing of over two years. I realized very early on that I just wasn’t interested in crossing off some of the items, while at the same time, had other ideas I really wanted to spend my time and effort on instead. #7? Meh. #12? Sure, but honestly I’d rather spend that time getting even better at Python. #15? I like Chrome better now. #93? Maybe, but frankly this book is more relevant and more interesting.
There’s something to be said for using those tasks as a different kind of motivation: sometimes you have to do things you’re not terribly crazy about. But on the other hand, you had full control over what went on the list when you first made it, so as long as you’re being honest with yourself, why not swap out near-irrelevant or uninteresting tasks for ones you feel you’ll get something out of and benefit from?
3: It’s hard to get everything done.
Priorities are everything, and sometimes other tasks take precedence. There are a lot of items on that list that I wanted to get–still want to get done–but haven’t quite managed just yet. Item #1 is something I’m dying to get back to, but just can’t justify putting it ahead of my graduate work at the moment.
But, on the other hand, that might be part of the point: progress is its own reward, and in the process we gain some insight into where we choose to devote ourselves. In that sense, we can evaluate whether our progress is in the right direction or requires a small steering change. For instance, I crushed quite a bit of the Health and Finances sections; Projects was a bit less thoroughly addressed. That can be explained perfectly well by way of graduate school: I learned to operate within the financial parameters of my current employment and used fitness to relieve the stress of work, but the work got in the way of my personal projects.
Ehhh. Not sure yet.
The time frame encompassing the next 12 months is going to be extremely unpredictable, particularly given my impending wedding and graduation. It’ll be tough predicting where I’ll be this time next year, let alone what I’ll be working on.
But! Maybe that’s the exact reason I should still do it: give me something to orient myself towards.
Hmmmm. Decisions, decisions! Any suggestions?