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    A creative alternative to goal setting


    At the end of last year, my good friend Liz sent me a note about an alternative goal setting option she thought I might like. It’s called 100 things .

    The idea is to write down everything you’d love to achieve over the next few years (or the next few decades) to create a life that is fully aligned with your values and purpose.

    I love this idea. From personal experience, I know that writing things down vastly improves the likelihood that they’ll happen and this is a more creative alternative than traditional goal setting. The relaxed format feels like an invitation to be more courageous. Adventurous even. And maybe because 100 things is a lot of things, it seems to me that a list like this should include experiences and challenges I might not otherwise include when I’m just writing my main goals.

    When I sat down to start, it was harder than I imagined. Maybe because of my mindset about wanting my list to be interesting, I immediately put myself under pressure.

    I googled other people’s lists to know where to start. That didn’t help much other than confirming I have no desire to jump out of planes or run marathons.

    Then I reflected on the times during the year when I had been happiest. What were the themes? I remembered the weekend we spent with friends on their remote property on the east coast of Tassie. And the weekend we’d spent hiking at Wilson’s Prom. I began with that strong pull to be more closely connected to nature.

    I kept tuning in and found other themes that align with my values. One is to be more creative. Another is to make more of a contribution to the community I live in.


    The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  Eleanor Roosevelt

    My list was half completed by New Year’s Eve. After dinner, I took it out into the garden where we were having a glass of wine and I read it to Chris. It made me excited about the year ahead and gave us things to dream about together.

    Here are the steps if you’d like to give it a try yourself.

    1. Draft your list

    Write a list of 100 things you want to achieve over the coming years. If you’re anything like me and find it hard to get started, by all means, look at other people’s lists for inspiration, but be mindful not to get caught up in their ideas about what makes a good life and try not to judge yourself as not being interesting or adventurous enough.

    Tap into all of the aspects that make life meaningful for you. Include a range of areas, not just your career or financial objectives. Consider things you’ve done in the past that have enriched your life and don’t be afraid to add dreams that feel outside your control (such as “Meet a partner I have a deep and loving connection with”). Just writing this down will change your mindset.

    2. Review your list often

    Review your list at least once a week (or if you can, even daily). Although you may not be able to action any specific objectives in a given week, it’s a reminder of what you value. Don’t be afraid to change your list if you discover there’s something that no longer resonates.

    3. Action something this week

    Put a mark next to a few things you feel confident of achieving this year and choose one or two action steps you can commit to immediately to give you a sense of momentum.


    Posted in: Business
    Kate James

    About the author

    Kate James is an author, coach and mindfulness teacher. She works with female leaders and business owners to help them clarify their values and strengths and discover a mindset that allows them to live confident, purposeful lives.