What does a satisfying, fulfilling life look like to you? What kinds of activities, actions and experiences make up that life?
Have you thought about it?
One of my favorite podcasts is Best of Both Worlds, co-hosted by Laura Vanderkam, an author, speaker and mom of four; and Sarah Hart-Unger, a physician, blogger and mom of three. Recently, they talked about making lists of their 100 dreams. I think that making these kinds of lists is a simple yet powerful way to start creating more satisfaction, meaning and fulfillment in our days.
Vanderkam learned about this exercise from career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine. As Vanderkam writes in this post, it’s “a completely un-edited list of anything one might want to do, have, or spend more time on in life.”
When you create such a long list of dreams, you’re able to get to the heart of your desires—and realize that many of those desires are totally feasible. When you create such a long list of dreams, you list the big, small and super tiny.
Plus, as Vanderkam points out, it also nudges you to actually engage in the activities you’ve been wanting to do—and no doubt discover some important information, too.
For instance, she writes, “Ceniza-Levine had been telling herself for years that she wanted to learn to sew — if only she had time! Then she decided to work through her list. She took a sewing class. She found out she hated sewing. That’s a lot of freed up mental energy. Whether she had time or not, she wasn’t going to be sewing. Good to know!”
This week consider creating your own list of 100 dreams. Take your time, and come back to it throughout the month. You might even start scheduling the specific activities right now.
You could organize your list by categories, such as career, family, relationships, travel and personal care. And it could include a wide range of activities, aims and adventures—from traveling overseas to taking piano lessons to decluttering your garage to redesigning your website to reading more to taking more walks in nature to trying yoga to creating a genuinely soothing bedtime routine to buying a bag you actually like.
On her list, Vanderkam included hitting the New York Times bestseller list, writing a (very) long piece of fiction, doing a Bach tour of Germany, reading aloud to her older kids, and making her bedroom into a sanctuary. Hart-Unger included visiting Japan, qualifying for the Boston marathon, and taking a trip to see the autumn leaves.
Because a list of this size can feel intimidating, below are some questions and prompts to help you get started brainstorming your own activities, adventures and projects:
- Complete these sentences: Wouldn’t it be cool if ….? Wouldn’t it be amazing if ….? What if I ….?
- What am I jealous of right now? (I know jealousy is a difficult emotion, which oftentimes we’re ashamed of, but it also can serve as a hint into what we really want.)
- What would I regret not doing at the end of my life?
- What makes me happy?
- What would I like to learn?
- What is missing from my days?
- What do I want more of in my days?
- How would I like to challenge myself in the next few years?
- What does my ideal adventure look like?
- What have I been wanting to accomplish in my career? What am I yearning to do?
- What do I want to see, smell, hear, taste and feel?
- What sounds fun to me?
A dream might pop into your mind, but you might instantly squash it, believing No way. I’m too ______ or I’m not _________. Acknowledge that impulse and reaction. But jot down the dream anyway.
Give yourself permission to want and wish without criticism or constraints. Give your mind permission to wonder and wander—even if that dream doesn’t seem possible. Keep writing. Keep wishing. Because you never know.
Maybe many of those dreams will come true—when you make time for them.