Where did the last list go wrong?
Here's a selection of mistakes that I made while compiling or carrying out the last list, and some thoughts about how I'm going to avoid them this time.Time and Money
Apart from the blessed three years of my degree, when my rent was paid for me and I occasionally had as few as four hours in a week when I had to be in a lecture theatre, my experience has been that when I have time I have no money, and when I have money I have no time. I didn't consider this when I was making up the last list, and had both some very time-consuming goals, and some very expensive ones.
Some didn't get done because I couldn't justify spending that much money on them. Some didn't get done because I was too busy working to earn the money to do them to be able to do them. When I had a month out of work and could have walked from St Bees to Robin Hood Bay, I couldn't have afforded to do it.
Interestingly, it wasn't on the whole the completely frivolous expensive goals that really stand out in my mind as having suffered from this. My tastes are, on the whole, inexpensive. (It helped that countertony
occasionally used my 101 in 1001 as a glorified wishlist - almost all the 'Buy X' goals that I completed were actually bought for me as presents.) No, it's boring, practical, old 'Pass driving test'.Life Happens
...particularly when one of your goals is to make life happen. I should have known.
I made my list on the Isle of Wight. Actually, I didn't. I made it in Germany, but I had the Isle of Wight, my parents' houses, in mind, and it shows. I hadn't thought about what moving out (a goal that was very high up the list, and one that was completed within a month) would mean for it. It's not just things like 'Walk the Isle of Wight Coastal Path' - that was easy enough to swap out. It was things like 'get rid of a book every week'. For the six months that I was in The Bedsit I could have counted the books that I could have got rid of on one hand. And everything I said above, in spades: suddenly I was paying rent, and suddenly I had a lot less money to play with. And I didn't have much to play with in the first place.
Next time, I'll allow myself more wiggle room. I'll think more carefully about how I'm going to achieve my goals, and whether they're dependent upon my being resident in Surrey, in the UK, near London, or whatever. I'll bear in mind that I'm not even single in the legal sense any more, and that this will have a bearing on the things I choose to do.Things Change, People Change
I covered 'things' above, I think. But people have also been known to change. Specifically, I changed during the 1001 days of the last list, and some things I wrote down at the beginning didn't really interest me at the end. I'm strongly considering leaving about ten goals blank when I write this list, and putting in new goals as I develop new skills and new interests. For example - earlier this year, in a last ditch attempt to get rid of some books, I joined BookCrossing.com
- and immediately got hooked on leaving books in interesting places for other people to find. Now, that would have made a fantastic goal, if only I'd thought to make it one.Chaucer's Too Big For My Handbag
Back to books again. I had some fairly ambitious reading projects on the last list. Three books by Dickens. The Faerie Queene
. The Bible. Shakespeare's plays. The Canterbury Tales
. Some of those I finished, and some I didn't.
The ones I didn't? It wasn't the language of centuries past that was difficult - it was reading it in a book that weighs more than two kilograms.
The ones I finished? They all came in volumes that were small enough to put in my handbag and read on the bus, or train, to work.
This is the same principle as eating the elephant: one bite at a time. One verse at a time - it becomes one chapter, or one scene, or one act, or one novel, or one play. If I'd bought a 'Complete Works of Shakespeare' I'd have been lost. Rather, I read All's Well That Ends Well
, and then took it back to the library, and got out another one. Repeat that nearly forty times, and you've read the plays of Shakespeare.
If, on the other hand, the book is so big that you can really only read it in bed, you're cutting out a lot of potential reading time. I needed every minute of that reading time if I wanted to finish all those books, and I didn't get it, because I didn't think it through.
And, finally, Writing Something On A List Doesn't Make It Happen
Not by itself. Writing it down is a useful first step, because if nothing else it reminds you that you want to do it, but it doesn't magically make anything happen. You also have to take the second step, and the third, and the fourthfifthsixthseventheighth and so on until it's done.
It sounds so obvious, but I swear that half the goals I didn't manage failed because I didn't take them any further than writing them down.
This time I'll have a better plan. No goal will make it onto the list until I have a reasonable idea not only of what it is and why I want to do it, but also how, when and where I'm going to do it.