Challenge: 100 Things

If you have a blank piece of paper, a pen, and 20 minutes to spare, I invite you to try the following experiment.  Think of it as an excuse to put off those Saturday chores!

A few years ago, I came across an article written by Nora Dunn, promising “100 ways to change your life”. Skeptical, but curious, I scrolled down and ended up trying it.

Horseback riding- checked off my list! (Arizona, 2010)

The results were illuminating, inspiring, and even humorous.  Give it a try!

Step 1: Clear all distractions: turn off your celly and your telly.  Shut your door.  Settle into a comfortable chair or climb in bed (because some portion of a Saturday afternoon should really be spent in bed anyway).

Step 2: Grab pen & paper:  Set a timer for 20 minutes (I realize that might mean turning that celly back on; just make sure it’s on silent!)

Step 3: Go! Here’s the fun part.  Write down, as quickly as you can, 100 things you want to do.  Today, tomorrow, 70 years from now – it doesn’t matter.  Think of people you want to meet, places you want to see, goals you want to accomplish, stories you’d eventually like to tell.

Forget for a moment that some things in life are impossible and let yourself dream big! After a while, your brain will slow down and might come to a complete stop.  Keep going until that timer goes off, and write down whatever pops into your mind, even if it’s impossible and/or doesn’t make sense.

Step 4: After 20 minutes: put down that pen!  Take your list, and simply tuck it away somewhere for a day, without reading it. No peeking!

Step 5: Wait one day: Now, patient one, you can take a look at your list.  You might be surprised at what you see! I certainly was.  I saw goals I had no memory of writing or even thinking, ranging from very doable (42. “give blood”) to impossible (85. “give up chocolate”).  Some made me laugh (51. “sushi”).  Some were extremely personal (those stay between me and my list!), while others were surprisingly inspiring (65. “fail but try again”).

As Nora emphasized, the point isn’t to develop some kind of mega-bucket list, but is instead an exercise in opening up your mind and taking a peek inside.  It’s a reminder of the potential our lives still hold for us.  And not to get all sappy, but it’s a reminder of what’s really important to you – not what your family, friends, and society expects from you.

Plus, it might be interesting to look back onto your list a few years from now (if you can hold on to it that long!) You may even get the satisfaction of checking off a few goals by then.

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Alice in Wonderland

Feel free to share how it goes for you – was anyone surprised by their results?


5 thoughts on “Challenge: 100 Things

      • Hey! Well I had a go just now… Firstly, 20 mins wasn’t enough so I gave myself an extra 10 mins!!! In the last 10mins my brain got slower but I still feel I have more to go (haven’t gotten to 100 and still have more stuff to write) so i’m going to leave it aside for now and give myself another 10 mins tomorrow. Perhaps, this is because I have already done a shorter version of this – i.e. I already kind of know the main things I want to do in my life that are not determined by anyone else. Hence I basically just expanded them to add more detail before starting on the next 80 things which I hadn’t properly considered yet!!! I will pop back on tuesday…

      • Well I finally completed this task!

        I found that actually there were few surprises and that I know myself quite well!! I was totally free with what I wrote and included things that some may consider trivial (e.g. lose weight!!! … which is probably on every woman’s list!!!) to things that are deep and meaningful (e.g. live life beautifully and in devotion and love but without being too attached to life). I included things that covered just about every aspect of my life and life in general… from specific things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go (e.g. learn a form of martial arts and be very good at it and go on safari in the Serengeti)… to more general aims (e.g. Do something new and different every year)… to things related to my personal values (e.g. do humanitarian work). Then there were of course many things that included loved ones.

        However, overall I decided to leave the last 23 items blank – this is in recognition of the fact that my needs, wants and values will change throughout life and to be open to that change and development.

        Thank you for the challenge 🙂

    • You had some lovely responses! I especially liked your goal to practice non-attachment, as that’s something I’m working on right now. Your goals sound very doable and admirable – leaving space for future change/growth is a nice gesture too. Thanks for sharing! xo

      ps I’m pretty sure that I had “lose a few pounds” on my list too 🙂

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