The strangest thing happened a few weeks back… I was flipping through one of my notebooks and I found the hard copy list of my 101 in 1001 list that I started writing from a little cafe in Paris back in 2016. I later finished the list and published it on the blog about a year later, in late 2017. And to be honest, I haven’t really thought about it again since then. The last few years have been a bit of a whirlwind for me… And if you’ve listened to the first few episodes of my podcast, you know what I’m talking about.
If you’re not familiar with “101 in 1001,” my friend Mackenzie coined this idea of accomplishing 101 things in 1001 days, or just under three years. (2.75 if we’re being exact.)
So when I found that original list in my notebook this past weekend, I was intrigued and pulled up the blog post I wrote, wondering how much progress I’ve made, how much time I had left to accomplish these goals, etc. And wouldn’t you know it, it was two days before the exact halfway mark of my 1001 days.
But as I was looking through these goals I wrote back in 2016 and 2017, I legitimately started laughing. Firstly, because I’ve barely crossed anything off. And secondly because I found myself thinking, “But I don’t even want to accomplish a lot of this in the next year and a half…” 😂
FYI: You can reference my original list here, I’ve updated it with the things I’ve actually done!
It’s funny how things change, isn’t it? I then remembered, “Wait, didn’t Mackenzie write a post about updating her goals?!” She did, and you can read that here. And that made me feel better about needing to update my list, too!
I felt like this would be a good opportunity to talk about changing our goals, setting attainable goals, etc. And I’m also sharing my updated 101 in 1001 list with you, that better reflects me and the place that I’m in now!
When I read back through my 101 list, my first thought was to just forget the whole damn thing. Why bother?? I felt like I was reading a list of goals written for me by someone else. Like, sure, I’d love to do these things at some point, but ain’t no way in hell some of that is happening in the next 500 days. Ya feel me? (You should see the things on my ‘personal’ list 😂🙄🙈 … Like, I’m over here just trying to pay my rent and apparently 2016/2017 Jess thought that I would be a self-made millionaire by 2020. Love the enthusiasm, J Sturdz, but that’s just not exactly realistic right now.)
And for a lot of other things, my priorities have just shifted entirely. I’ve mentioned this on both the blog and the podcast, but I just feel a bit “traveled out.” I’ve been so incredibly fortunate to be able to visit so many incredible places over the last five or six years and I know that there will be a time when international travel lights me up again, but to be honest, that’s not right now. What currently lights me up is waking up in my bed at home, having morning and evening routines, getting to spend time with my friends in Chicago, having ‘normal’ workdays and work weeks where I feel productive, growing my business(es), making time for self-care, going to therapy, getting enough sleep, reading, journaling, exercising, walking along the lake, writing, exploring my own city and finding new spots I love in Chicago, and many more seemingly boring things.
I know that this current season of my life won’t last forever, so for now, I’m embracing it. So rather than scrapping my whole list all together, I figured I’d just honor what I’ve already completed, and shift the other goals to more fit me and my lifestyle right now.
But let’s talk about goals, shall we?
While it might be surprising to hear, I feel like I’ve really struggled with goals in the past. (Well, actually, maybe it’s not surprising if you look at my original list and how few things I’ve accomplished on it… 😂)
For most of my adult life, I’ve operated more so on a to-do list basis. I have a notebook of a constant running list of things to do. Immediate things, more long-term things, and someday things. When I say “my to-do list is a mile long,” I’ve actually been downplaying it. Miles would have probably been more accurate. And as someone who tends to get a sense of paralysis by feeling extremely overwhelmed, this was not a system that was working for me.
So with some trial-and-error of some new ways of doing things over the last year or so, and some helpful advice from my therapist, I’ve found a pretty good system for what’s currently working for me and my monkey mind!
I’m learning about the importance of setting goals, both professionally and personally. True story: When my therapist first game me the “homework” of setting a few goals for the month, I was excited to tell her that I had set a handful (and loved the impact it was having, even after just two weeks!) at our next session! She simply said, “That’s great to hear! Just out of curiosity, were they all work related?”
I’m pretty sure I looked at her with this face 🤔 for a solid ten seconds before I found the words, “I mean, yeahhhh…? What other kinds of goals are there?!” I literally said that.
She just chuckled and rattled off a handful of goals that some may have on their lists… Make time to call and catch up with family, prioritize exercise, be a better listener, etc. Needless to say, it was very telling for both of us that exactly zero personal goals ever crossed my mind. Truth be told, it can still a bit challenging for me to come up with some personal goals for my monthly list, but I’ll share how I’ve been breaking it down and creating lists of manageable goals that make me feel productive and empowered.
1. The Productivity Planner | I talk about this planner in Episode 6 of AFTR, but it’s been the biggest game changer in my daily and weekly productivity. When you start the week, you do a bit of planning and outline the five most important tasks of the week, five tasks of secondary importance, and five additional tasks. That’s it. Each day, you identify your single most important task of the day, two tasks of secondary importance, and two additional tasks. That’s it. Gone are the days of my lifetime running list of things to do on a legal-sized notepad. There’s a “notes” section each day where you can write down ideas, future tasks, etc. Of course, I sometimes use this section for additional daily to-do’s or errands, I’m only human. But I try not to! (And the section is quite small!)
The planner also utilizes the Pomodoro Method for time tracking! Again, major game changer for me and my ADHD brain. Read more about it here, but the Pomodoro Method utilizes 25 minute time chunks (you set a timer!) where you focus on one task and one task only. Writing, photo editing, emails, IG DMs, content planning, accounting, invoicing, recording my expenses, cleaning, styling outfits… Whatever it is, you’re working on that task and not allowing any distractions while you’re doing it. IT’S A GAME-CHANGER, FRIENDS. You can totally implement the Pomodoro Method into your life without this planner, but the planner allows you to track your 25 minute chunks for a certain task. At the beginning of the day, you have a target for how many 25 minute chunks you think that task will take you, and you measure how long it actually took you. Doing so has made me much more aware of how long things actually take me, which in turn allows me to set more realistic and manageable daily and weekly goals for myself!
At the end of the day, you give yourself a productivity score, which is just a helpful exercise at the end of the day to reflect and recognize any hiccups or victories. And at the end of the day, I like to go ahead and set up my next day’s list! That way, as soon as I sit down at my desk in the morning, I already have a plan of action. Plus, the simple ritual of closing out the day kind of signals my mind that it’s time to turn off and helps with anxiety/sleep/etc.
And finally, at the end of the week, you do a little weekly review! You reflect on your weekly wins, tasks that were not completed, what you learned this week, and think ahead to the next week. I like to do this on Friday afternoons before I wrap up for the weekend.
2. Monthly Goals | Since the Productivity Planner tackles my daily and weekly goals, I make a small list of monthly goals in a separate notebook. For example, some recent monthly goals over the last few months… Podcast launch on 3/1, Revamp media kit, Taxes, Read (& finish!) two books, Start a non self-help book, Pinterest strategy & plan, Go to yoga six times, etc.
I try to incorporate a mix of personal and professional goals. From a work perspective, this list helps me look a bigger picture from the day-to-day. At the end of the month, what ‘bigger’ goals will I have accomplished? February is a great example because I wanted to launch my podcast at the end of the month. So when I was planning out my weeks and days, I was able to look back at my monthly goal and figure out how I needed to break that down to make it happen. Make my artwork for iTunes, find music for my intro, record the first few episodes, submit to iTunes, choose a hosting platform, etc.
3. Quarterly Goals | These go even bigger picture! Personally, I think these are a great place for new projects and side-hustle types of things. Then, when you’re making your Monthly lists, you can cross-reference back to your Quarterly list to make sure you’re touching on some broken-down big-ticket items.
4. Yearly Goals | I typically like to have a “theme” for the year, but a small list of yearly goals is smart to have, too. Again, it’s all about working backwards. For goals that are harder to measure or take time to implement, for example, maybe it’s developing a daily meditation practice… When it’s on this yearly list, you’re then seeing it again each quarter (and then each month), and having a chance to circle back and remember what’s important to you for the year. That way, no matter if you fall off the wagon in a certain month, it’s easy to hop back on the next month. I’m going to go ahead and say the 101 in 1001 list falls into this, as well, just a bit longer term!
I’m not really a fan of lists that are longer-term than that, because things just change and shift so much that it seems unrealistic for specific goals. HOWEVER, I do think it’s smart to maybe think about those longer term (5 and 10 year) goals when it comes to a financial perspective. For example, in the next five years, I’d like to purchase a home, so how can I break that down into yearly financial goals to help me achieve that milestone down the road.
5. A Running List | And of course, I still have my running list! In that same notebook, I keep a running list as a catch-all for all of the random shit that pops up into my mind. Personally, I get anxiety if I think of a to-do and don’t write it down. So I add things to this haphazard list for peace of mind. Truthfully, I rarely look at it, but it’s there when I need it for inspiration, lighting a fire under my ass, remembering some little idea I had, etc.
And now, my updated 101 in 1001 list!
1. Renew my passport (June 2018)
2. Go on a ‘big trip’ when I’m ready to explore again — South of France, Ibiza, or Greece?!
3. Australia (February 2018)
4. Japan in the Spring (April 2018)
5. Charleston — Can you believe I’ve *never* been?
6. Go back to Italy (July 2018)
7. Napa or Sonoma again (going MDW!)
8. Visit Caneel Bay again! — One of my favorite warm-weather trips to date, dying to go back!
9. Coachella again – ticket has been purchased! (April 2018)
10. Go somewhere solo for my 30th birthday!
11. Make plans to visit Australia again.
Blog & Business (3/19)
1. Operation: Inbox Zero. Email is, admittedly, my biggest downfall as a business owner. I need to figure out how to conquer the beast once and for all. I’m getting a lot better, but have a ways to go!
2. Launch something new. Not sure what exactly this one looks like yet, but I have a few ideas swirling around. (Podcast!)
3. Organize my hard drives.
4. Organize my Dropbox folders (Sometime in 2018)
5. Clear out my camera roll on my phone and organize the photos (needs to happen immediately…)
6. Revamp my blog’s design.
7. Redesign my Travel Guide page.
8. Finally get into Freshbooks instead of doing everything manually (Sometime in 2018)
9. Do a TV segment.
10. Film a hair tutorial.
11. Film my makeup routine. (I did this on IG Live, but need to do it for YouTube or IG TV!)
12. Write a book! — I doubt I’d be able to have it published by the end of this timeframe, but I’d like to have the wheels in motion.
13. Launch the non-profit we’ve been working on.
14. Have a reader/listener meet-up in Chicago! — I feel like summer is a hard time for people with travel, so maybe in the fall?!
15. Expand my styling business.
16. Launch AFTR website.
17. Plan a work week in New York for meetings, to record, etc.
18. Same for LA!
19. Hit 75 Podcast Episodes
1. Enroll in a Spanish class in Chicago to keep up with my skills from LatAm.
2. Enroll in French again.
3. Join a volunteer program… I’ve been looking into Big Brothers Big Sisters, but would love if you have any other suggestions in Chicago!
4. Find a charity to get involved with, too.
5. Take up horseback riding again — Start by taking a single lesson!
6. Go on some sort of a wellness retreat.
7. Do a float tank.
8. Laser Hair Removal
9. Try acupuncture.
10. Do allergy testing.
11. Hire a personal trainer.
12. Try cryotherapy.
13. Try an infrared sauna (December 2017)
14. *Honestly* feel 100% confident in a bikini.
15. Plan an epic 31st birthday party. This will be my “golden birthday” and it seems so much more unique than a 30th birthday celebration. Plus, something to look forward to if I’m being weird about turning another year older. (I never used to be weird about getting older, but something about pushing 30 and still feeling like a teenager is slightly terrifying.)
16. Find a dentist in Chicago. (Going next week!)
17. Find a new doctor in Chicago.
18. Find a hair salon in Chicago (February 2019)
19. Get a gate analysis and expertly fitted for new running shoes.
20. Do RTT again.
21. Go on five dates. — Really aiming high here, haha, but I’m just not in the mood to start dating again yet. 😂
22. Get trained in TM and practice 2x daily for one month.
1. Print and frame at least one of my own travel photos.
2. Figure out what I’m doing with my living situation…
3. Get my desk area organized once and for all (January 2019)
4. Get a storage unit once one opens up in my building (April 2018)
Just for Fun (5/22)
1. Get a lemon tree.
2. Go bowling (a few times…)
3. Play mini golf.
4. Take a tennis lesson.
5. Take golf lessons… Haven’t touched my old clubs for at least a decade, pretty sure my parents have gotten rid of them by now.
6. Go ice skating.
7. Go to a show at Second City (November 2017)
8. Go to another comedy show.
9. Send 5 “just because” gifts.
10. Leave a 100% tip for great service.
11. Buy a table of strangers dinner anonymously.
12. Take another surf lesson (Lima, Peru, September 2018)
13. Re-read the Harry Potter series.
14. Go skiing again… It’s been a few years now! (Steamboat; December 2018)
15. Read 10 books (excluding HP!)
16. 5 must be non self-help books.
17. Treat myself to a full spa day… Massage, facial, the works.
18. Take a Tracy Anderson class.
19. Take Hollyn (my niece) on a girls trip.
20. Find my ‘daybooks’ we had to keep in AP English Senior Year of HS.
21. Learn how to drive a stick again (haven’t tried since I learned when I was 15…)
22. Get rid of 100 things (Spring & Summer 2018)
Confidential, Financial, or Extra Personal (1/23)
I’ve got these on a list of my own!
How do you go about setting goals? Would love to hear any of your tips, tricks, ideas, etc.