I’ve been asked so many questions by email about my 101 Goals in 1001 Days idea that I decided a follow-up post might be in order, because many of the questions have been repeated and they are rather interesting ones. Before you read this, I’d recommend looking at the original 101 Goals in 1001 Days article.
James asks How do you define a good goal for this list?
A good goal for this list has a few distinct qualities:
It’s quantifiable This means that success either happens or it doesn’t – there’s no in between. For example, let’s say your goal is to “take shorter showers” as an effort to conserve energy. It’s difficult to say when that goal is a success, so instead make the goal “Take showers that average six minutes in length for a month.” Then time your showers. Viola – it’s very clear whether you succeed or not.
It matches your values The goal should actually be something that matches your own values – something that matches the direction that you want to go with your life, or matches a way you’d truly like to improve yourself. This seems trivial, but it’s not – if you want to cut down on materialism, then setting a goal of a certain material gain works in a contrary direction.
It’s at least reasonably achievable Don’t set goals that you have no realistic chance of achieving. Things like “Have a net worth of $10 million” probably aren’t going to happen. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be challenging, just that they need to be within the realm of reality.
Follow those three points and you’ll be just fine.
Michelle asked a bunch of questions (many of which were repeated by other readers):
How did you create your list? Was it a struggle to get to 101, or did you start with 200 and whittle it down?
I kept a sheet of paper and a computer document to record ideas as they came to me over a week or so. I eventually came up with about 150 or so and actually whittled them down.
What would you have done if you had only come up with 90?
I would have just let it sit around for a while longer, but it’s not necessary – if you want a list of ninety goals, that’s fine. It’s your list.
What do you think you will do if you only achieve 100 of them?
Be incredibly happy with myself, because I don’t actually think a really good list of 101 goals could be finished in 1001 days. Failure doesn’t scare me off from the list at all – I view achieving 50 of the goals as success, not as failure because I didn’t make 51 of them.
Now that you have them, how do you approach them? Do you look at the list every day, or once a week?
I keep the list posted in a few places and look at the list at least once a day. It keeps me focused on the goals.
Catherine asks Do you have any ideas that would work well for a 101 Goals list for the purpose of saving money and getting my finances in order?
Obviously, no list is going to match everyone’s needs, but I took this question to heart and made up a list of 20 goals that would lead directly to saving money and putting yourself on a strong financial path. Many of these suggestions will not fit you, but many will, and the ones that fit one person will be different than the ones that fit another person.
1. Increase net worth by a certain percentage in a year (say, 20%)
2. Pay off the entire balance on one of your credit cards (or all of your cards)
3. Build up an emergency fund equal to two months’ take home pay
4. Fully fund a Roth IRA for a year
5. Cook your own meals for one solid month
6. Replace every burnt-out light bulb with a CFL for one year
7. Install programmable thermostats
8. Don’t speed for one month
9. Don’t buy a new CD/DVD/book/whatever your weakness is for one month
10. Go vegetarian for one month
11. Start a side business that brings in $X in a month
12. Sell 75% of your DVD/CD/book/video game collection (or more)
13. Spend no money on entertainment for a month
14. Read fifty two books in a year (one a week) checked out from the library
15. Write a will/living trust/living will
16. Start a vegetable garden that produces X different vegetables at the end of harvest
17. Don’t use your car (except for work commuting needs) for one week, five different times
18. Check the air pressure (and fill appropriately) on all of your vehicles twenty times
19. Set up an automatic savings plan into an investment account and leave the plan untouched for six months
20. Earn a professional certification or degree