Life after 50,  Well-being

A Different Way to Set Goals

I have tried – and written about – numerous ways to set goals and resolutions in a new year AND about how I observe numerous new years in my personal life,

BUT

July 2023, I happened on a different kind of goal-setting / goal-accomplishing idea: Day Zero Project – 101 things to accomplish in 1,001 days. The idea started more than 15 years ago as a way to motivate and inspire people to achieve goals.

How it works

There are so many challenges out there to help you accomplish your goals. Have you tried any of them? One of the most popular, according to the website Day Zero Project (click here for their site), is the 30 things to accomplish by the time you turn 30. Another challenge is to do 52 things in 52 weeks (one year). “52 Frames” challenges photographers with a weekly theme for photographs while “52 Hikes” challenges hikers to complete 52 trails in a year.

How does Day Zero Project differ from setting yearly goals and resolutions

This week, the first month of 2024 came to a close and now we are into February. Did you sit down on January 1 and evaluate what you wanted to accomplish this year? How has that gone for you? Are you on track or have you fallen and dropped the goal from your list?

I used to fall off my goals pace within the first three months of the year and then abandon them for the rest of the year. I included things that would improve my health, things that should get done around the house, and things I wanted to learn. The first goals that would go by the wayside were the things to do to improve my health. Growing up in Northern Illinois, January is no time to set goals for developing a movement plan or exercise routine. Gray skies, snow, and early sunsets would crush my motivation to stop at the gym on the way home. They would destroy my goal to start my day a bit earlier and stop at the gym on the way to work. It was also easier to crawl back under the covers on a dreary day than work out at home. By February 1, I would feel like I had failed on my health improvement goals and stopped any further effort.

BUT, 101 in 1,001 doesn’t give me a when-to-start date. It only gives me a deadline. In my case, that deadline is September 28, 2026. I can start my specific plan to get outdoors and hike; achieve 10,000 steps a day; and swim a mile when the temperatures are more pleasurable. Once I get into a solid habit, I will want to continue when the winter weather returns.

101 in 1,001 allows you to revise as your life changes rather than just toss out what you want to accomplish in a specific period. I started July 2023 with my first list, but because several things changed in my life, I made massive revisions and placed my start date as January 1, 2024.


My process

I sat down on January 1, 2024, with the idea that I was going to revise my list of 101 things and start over. I decided on 10 categories:

  1. travel / adventure / explore
  2. family / friends / relationships
  3. professional development / career as a writer
  4. professional development / career as a coach
  5. creativity / art / craft / music explorations
  6. spiritual
  7. personal development / learning / growth / just because for me
  8. wellness
  9. house / home / finance
  10. just for fun / entertainment / personal

Next, I looked at the length of 1,001 days: 2.75 years, 9 trimesters (four-month blocks), 11 quarters (three-month blocks), 33 months, or 140 weeks. If I read one book a month during the 1,001 days, I would have completed 33 books. If I only lost 1 pound a month, I would lose 33 pounds.

I chose a notebook that would inspire me.

picture by R. Kojetin

In recording activities, I used a page for each category, and then after the full 101 list, I started to set up pages to record the long-term lists like books read or movies watched.

What kind of activities can be included?

Then I got down to what things I wanted to accomplish under each category. The kinds of things you want to accomplish are up to you, but here are some thoughts as to what can be included. (You can find my complete list here and follow my progress.)

long-term vs short-term activities – try to include some activities that are one-and-done like visiting a specific museum or zoo as well as some activities that will take several weeks to several months to complete – think learning a language or visiting half of the national parks

include some hopeful, someday activities – these can be you never know opportunities like sing with a band at one of the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway because hey, if you don’t write it down, it might escape your radar.

include some if-I-had-the-money activities – including this kind of activity can help you budget and plan for that two-month cruise.

include some cost-free activities – freebies can brighten your day


I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about Day Zero Project or share a link to your list.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.


Until next time . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *