The Happiness Project: The List

Photo courtesy David T. Robbins

Over six months of blogging, I’ve edited my about page several times, my blog no longer acting as a personal progress tracker.  Back then Albert was my only reader 🙂 during the “resolution posts,” so I’m taking a hint from fellow blogger, Emily, and updating my 26 Before 26.  I first heard about this list making tracking process on Emily’s blog, and she recently posted her progress on the infamous 26 this week.

The idea of the list is to write down things you want to accomplish before your next birthday.  I originally began this blog as a way to track my progress in writing, which it has helped with, but has also become a wonderful new community to engage with. So here is the list, as it stands so far.

  1. Write everyday.  (This one hasn’t happened yet, but I’m working on it.)
  2. Read 2 books a month for fun.  (I thought I’d only be able to do 1 a month, but I’m pleasantly keeping up with 2.)
  3. Submit my work for publication.  (Huge wake-up call THANK YOU to Nina Badzin for blogging this post on why it’s important to just do it and not be a snob about your publication opportunities.  Thanks, Nina!)
  4. Learn about the craft of writing.
  5. Learn about social media.  (Uh, Kristen Lamb.  Best Freshly Pressed post to ever stumble onto.  I feel a kinship to her as we both started out with turquoise colored blogs.  :))
  6. Attend a writing conference.  (Madison Writers Institute – Wonderful experience)
  7. Meet with other writers.  (Accomplished at the conference, started a writing critique group, and of course engaging with all of you!)
  8. Record my wacky family memoirs.  (You have read the posts about my father, right?)
  9. Write a fiction book.  (It’s my current work in progress.)
  10. Get my own office.  (Remodeling the upstairs is slow moving, my current best place for productivity remains Starbucks.)
  11. Eat healthier.  (I’m well of aware of the bologna incident, and the write like potatoes incident, and the double stuff oreos incident in spite of my mother.  It’s about progress, and part of progress comes from being aware.)
  12. Be more frugal.  (Save money, oh please start saving money.)
  13. Take a real vacation.  (2 weeks I’m off to New Orleans!)
  14. Leave the country.  (I have been to Italy and Ireland, but my boyfriend has never left the country, and I LOVE to travel, so we’re hoping to go to Canada in August.)
  15. Go to the beach.  (We actually do have one on the Mississippi, not that I’d dare to touch the water, but even if the sun HATES me, I want to relax at the beach with a good book more than the 2 times I went last year.)
  16. Go see live theater.
  17. Attend more events at the public library.
  18. Be a better partner.  (I always think relationships can improve and Joe and I will have been together 5 years the same month as my birthday.  We’ve both grown a lot, but the first year of living together is like taking the fast track training to someone’s personality disorder!  Now that we’re in year two of “domestic bliss,” I’m hoping we’ll able to balance a bit more.)
  19. Clean up my room more.  Make it my own.
  20. Take my vitamins daily.
  21. Keep up with my gratitude journal, 5 things each day.
  22. Track my progress of learning the social media and publishing world.  (I’ve been adding a second list underneath my gratitude journal that focuses on eye opening moments.)
  23. Spend more time with friends and family.
  24. Go for a bike ride.
  25. Get new glasses.
  26. Practice cooking seafood.

That’s my list.  Might seem boring, but it’s me and my goals in 26 things.  Most of them are writing focused, but that’s what this year is about.  I had a good 2 1/2 years of only random journal entries to show for it.  It became very clear, during the holiday season in my retail work environment, that it was time to start up writing again.  Nothing has made me happier than the actions I’ve taken towards this goal this year.  I feel like myself again.  Or getting there anyway.  I do feel like the poster child sometimes for “if you don’t use it, you lose it” when it comes to dumb writing mistakes.  So when I start to feel that way, I have to remind myself, hey, at least I’m writing again!

What things are on your list this year?


28 responses

  1. First of all, thank you for the mention! This is a great list! Not “boring” at all! Mine would look pretty similar. (Minus leave the country–I have 3 young kids and 1 on the way.)

    1. Thanks for prompting such great additions to my list, Nina!

  2. This is awesome! I love your list. I, too, actually want to accomplish most of the things on it!

    Thank you also for the links to those posts! I’ll check them out :).

    1. Will you be making your own list? I’d love to follow along on your journey. We can inspire each other!

  3. Great list, Jess. I am inspired. Blessings to you…

  4. *HOPS UP AND DOWN!* I want to do one too! Okay. I’m going to write a list. ]

    1. Love the enthusiasm! Hope you post your list too!

  5. If you come to the east coast of Canada, please get in touch…would love to meet you!

    Good luck with your list!


    1. Thanks Wendy! You and Charles have both put in dibs for where to go, so we’ll have to investigate further and let you know for sure! I’d love to meet a succulent bookworm!

      1. Find a spot in the middle and we can all get together.

        1. 😀 Hope it works that way! That would be so much fun!

  6. Way to go!! I’m so glad you posted your list, and thanks for the mention! I look forward to following your journey 🙂

  7. Thanks for your inspirational list Emily. I look forward to following you on your journey, you’ve got some great goals!

  8. “Practice cooking seafood” seems out of place alongside the others, but I like it. Seafood is awesome! I make a mean salmon, and some pretty good steamed clams. Can’t wait until Dungeness crab is in season again.

    Two big things on my list: get published & get a job.

    Not necessarily in that order…

    1. I have every confidence you’ll achieve both your goals! Got any good seafood recipes that aren’t too hard? Send em my way!

  9. I think I’ll hold off on this exercise for now since my birthday is less than 2 weeks away and 46 before 46 sounds like something that will induce a nervous breakdown. 😉

    A lot on your list appeals to me. I’ve made similar lists over the years, usually as resolutions. What I’ve found is that some of the listings were just too general and didn’t result in action on my part. For example, eat healthier. That only happened when I got more specific, planning meals in advance. If the thought process was left until meal time, the goal was never achieved (and cookies were usually eaten in a moment of can’t-wait hunger).

    Similarly, attend a writer’s conference sounds like a great idea, but better to actually research and pick one. Go see a live show: once again, in my experience if I don’t pick one today, it won’t happen.

    Be frugal, save money…how? Identify a few things you can do and start doing them.

    Spend more time with friends and family…that was always a goal, but until I set regular monthly dates to do individual lunch dates with various friends, life just kept passing by and the goal was never accomplished.

    I guess what I’m saying is some people will write down a general goal and perhaps have success achieving it. I’m not one of those people. I need to take it to the next level and identify some specifics that get me to the goal.

    Good luck with the journey, my friend.

    1. I completely agree! These were my big goals and I’m working on many of them in parts. I did research writing conferences, and have now gone to one. I did sign up for a class on author branding, and I joined a critique group.

      The save money/eat healthier part is where I struggle the most. It’s on and off again. Sometimes I do really well, other times not so much. Making achievable small changes over time would be really beneficial. That’s definitely my next step.

  10. Great list, Jess. It was anything but boring! I found a lot of the links you included very useful, especially Nina Badzin’s post on submitting articles for publication. That’s on my goal list too, but I’ve been waiting for the perfect story to submit. You’re right – it’s a huge wake-up call! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Glad I could inspire, Carrie. Nina’s got lots more great posts where that came from, so keep stopping by here and on Nina’s blog! Good luck with submitting your work!

  11. Good job! HOpe you make everything on the list. Try writing 10 words a day, maybe. 😉 Good luck on this one.

    1. I’ve heard that: Remember to just write, even if it’s only ten words. (which is 10 words) *giggle*

  12. I like all the little things at the end. I think little things are important things. And more importantly they’re attainable too.

    1. Yah, Margaret’s advice about making goals attainable is crucial. It’s something I liked and didn’t like about Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. She focused on something each month and made achievable goals about that focus for the month. I like that, but I bet it’d be difficult to keep stalking those life changes on top of each other each month. Somewhere there’s a give and take, and I guess you learn along the way where you can make that. It’s never easy, is it? LOL

  13. That’s a great list, Jess. It touches on so many aspects of life, and I think any or all of them will help you be a better writer. And that makes the whole thing quite an ambitious undertaking, because you’re already an excellent writer with a loyal audience. Have a great time in New Orleans.

    1. Thank you! You are always too generous with your compliments.

      I’m very excited to go to New Orleans!

  14. Hi Jess! I love the list. It’s no more boring than anyone else’s would be. What would think about starting a community of writers who keep a list like this to work on over a 12 month period? Let me know what you think. I’d also be interested in joining your critique group, if you have room for one more. Been desperating looking for one lately.

    1. I’m for a support network of writers making goals and holding each other accountable and realistic as we go out to achieve them. Shoot me e-mail with ideas on how you think we could organize it. We have social media at our finger tips and could forge together either through a yahoo linked group or facebook maybe. It sounds great. Are you a part of #mywana on twitter? That is a group of writers connecting with writers, and I read a lot of great content from browsing through that feed. If you haven’t already, definitely go stop by!

      As for the writing critique group, ours is all YA paranormal/fantasy work. I certainly wouldn’t mind adding you in, but to be completely honest, we’re not all up and running so smoothly yet. Lots of life interferences have occurred, so we’ve each only submitted just our first 10 pages. And it’s taken quite a while to get everything back. Let me know if you want me to ask the group about joining. I can’t imagine they’d say no, but I just wanted to be up front with you that we’re moving at a slower pace.

  15. […] May 27, 2011, I stumbled on Jess Witkins’,  Happiness Project. Her post was “The List” which laid out her goals for the next year when she would turn 26 yrs old.  She was inspired by […]

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