Resolution Week: One Resolution Isn’t Enough, Try 101 Resolutions In 1,001 Days

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checklist marking off new year's resolutionsIt’s Resolution Week here at Mommyish! Check out all our other posts here.

I do not, as a general rule, make New Year’s resolutions. This is probably a holdover from my time in the corporate world, but nebulous goals without a clear endpoint give me hives. Become a better writer. Be more outgoing. Try new things. How do I know when I’m done with these things? How do I know if I did them successfully? And how can I possibly keep myself honest with goals that are harder to nail down than a fart in the fog?

But it just so happens that this January coincides with my next round of the Day Zero Project: a goal-setting scheme that gives you 1,001 days to achieve 101 tasks you set for yourself. Between work, spouses, kids, pets, and the occasional need to just fling yourself on a couch and watch Netflix for six hours, it’s both good to have a list of goals stashed somewhere; not just to keep yourself on track, but also to remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished so far. And the accomplishment is really the underling virtue of Day Zero:

Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on your part).

Writing good goals takes some practice (especially when you need 101 of them) but it’s doable. First, don’t write down anything that doesn’t have a clear end-point. Instead of “read more books”, something you’re never really able to check off the list, write down “complete a reading bingo card“. Rather than “Be healthier”, write down “Join a CSA this summer” or “Run a 5k by October” – something that has a finish line, so that you can tell how close you are to achieving it, and so that you know when it’s behind you and time to move on to something else.

The other advice I have for making your goals achievable is to chunk them down into manageable sizes. “Do National Novel Writing Month for each of the next three years” isn’t a goal – it’s three goals. The same goes for “re-organize the basement, the office, and the bedroom closets” or “run a 5k, a 10k, and a half-marathon”. Break things down into smaller pieces – and then grind the achievement buzz from those smaller pieces up to get the fuel you need to accomplish the big stuff.

The other secret about the Day Zero project is that, in the two other times I’ve done this, I’ve never once accomplished everything on my lists. But I have accomplished more than I would have done otherwise, and unlike the eggs-in-one-basket mentality of having one or two New Year’s resolutions, those failures don’t completely derail me from moving on to the next thing.

So get on over to Day Zero and make your own list, and share your best ideas in the comments! Here are a few from my list to get you started:

8. Do NaNoWriMo in 2015

21. Play in summer 2015 Ultimate Frisbee league

26. Complete the entire Spanish course on Duolingo

36. Register to be a bone marrow donor

56. Have a fondue party

60. Win Reading Bingo in 2015

77. Have a garage sale

81. Re-tile the master bathroom floor

90. Take the kids to Lincoln Park Zoo