100 Wishes, an exercise examining life’s goals

In October (2015) I did a personal retreat weekend inspired by my own life’s events and a friend’s blog post about her life audit. As part of my personal retreat weekend I made a list of 100 wishes for my life, writing each wish on a separate post it note.

Before starting this exercise I was a bit intimidated. 100 seems like a lot, and I’ve heard that people typically top out around 30. The early intimidation made early in the exercise a bit more challenging, and then I picked up speed and actually ended up surpassing 100 wishes.

Something I observed about this exercise is that how it feels will depend on what’s going on in your own life. I think had I done this exercise a year ago I would’ve felt more jovial and inspired by the exercise and had 1,000 wishes to record. The timing of when I did it was immediately following a series of chaotic events during my summer and fall, so I felt a bit beat up and honestly, had lost sight of a lot of my vision for my life. That feeling inside of me was part of my inspiration to do this exercise in the first place. To reignite the flame and re-inspire the many things I want to experience in life.

The 100 wishes exercise is one I think is healthy to do once per year and to do with a potential life partner (i.e. significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend, whatever your label of choice may be) because it’s important to find out if you have similar wishes for your life. Not all of your wishes need to overlap, but a healthy dose can ensure your compatibility and direction of your lives together.

I think the exercise could also be fun to do with a close group of friends, siblings, or parents even. Here’s my full list of wishes. Skip ahead for what I did after the initial brainstorm…

My full list of 100 wishes

(in no particular order)

  1. Eat lobster in Maine
  2. Stand up for myself
  3. Improv4 me & others
  4. Draw
  5. Help others
  6. Inspire laughter
  7. Surf in Costa Rica
  8. Bike in Tuscany
  9. Say how I feel
  10. Meet Tina Fey
  11. Start a fund of sorts
  12. Hold a 5 minute conversation in Italian
  13. Inspire others to burn their fears
  14. Go to Hawaii
  15. Host SNL
  16. Start a foundation
  17. Build a house on Mackinac Island
  18. Do 30 (real) push up without stopping
  19. Publish my memoir
  20. Be a good friend
  21. Horseback ride on the beach
  22. Publish a video that gets >1000 views
  23. Travel to southeast Asia
  24. Live in another country
  25. Create a verb from a noun
  26. Be well read
  27. Inspire & empower others to create & do
  28. Collaborate with Venetia
  29. Tell interesting stories
  30. Do something so great for the world, that someone creates my wiki page
  31. Lead a team of >24 people
  32. Create a comedy cooking show
  33. Go to Australia
  34. Take more comedy writing classes
  35. Have my writing published (by someone who isn’t me)
  36. Create something global
  37. Do an unassisted headstand
  38. Relax in Bali
  39. Generate $100 million in wealth (not for me; in general for the world)
  40. Inspire & empower health
  41. Collaborate with a comedian I respect (Mindy, Amy, Tina, etc)
  42. Own an orchard
  43. Travel the world with someone I love
  44. Launch paleo gelato
  45. Fall in true love
  46. Complete a triathlon
  47. Travel abroad with my siblings
  48. Help others grow & eat fresh food
  49. Start an improv troupe
  50. Opaque yoga
  51. Mentor & inspire young girls
  52. Hike Machu Pichu
  53. Ask a stranger on a date
  54. Follow my heart
  55. Visit Finland
  56. Try new things
  57. Kiss someone I meet for the first time
  58. Horseback ride in the mountains
  59. Pay off my student loans
  60. Learn from a visionary leader
  61. Ask questions
  62. Experience what it’s like to work >200 person company
  63. Travel abroad with my mom
  64. Buy land in another country
  65. Date & build meaningful connections
  66. Work globally
  67. Develop passive income streams
  68. Visit castle in Ireland
  69. Convince people what I’m doing is big
  70. Innovate in a broken industry
  71. Write
  72. Buenos Aires dancing
  73. Visit chocolate farm
  74. Tell people how I really feel
  75. Relax
  76. Live on/near the beach for a month
  77. Look good naked
  78. Be the best daughter, sibling, family member I can be
  79. Be proud myself, my life, my work
  80. Believe in myself truly & authentically
  81. Invest in farms
  82. Visit Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Banff)
  83. Turn ideas into reality
  84. Make enough money to support myself & my family
  85. Talk to strangers
  86. Write another book
  87. Take care of my health
  88. Work on/stay on a ranch
  89. Be asked to speak at Stanford Entrepreneur Series
  90. Make a living doing what I love
  91. Play the chess game I created
  92. Get asked to speak at a well-known conference
  93. Learn to catch & cook fish
  94. Learn to produce better videos
  95. Visit Iceland
  96. Create/work with a global brand that touches the lives of world
  97. Write a love poem & give to a stranger
  98. Teach a college class
  99. Cook new recipes
  100. Make a positive impact
  101. Go on a trip with my closest friends
Wishes!
A pile of wishes!

After making this list I split it into categories…

First, dividing the list into two categories: things I control, things that I don’t fully control. In other words, is the wish something that I need someone else in order to complete? This is important because some of these wishes involve other people, and though I can influence, I can not control other people. For example, one of my wishes is to collaborate with my friend Venetia. If Venetia doesn’t want to collaborate with me, then it may not be worth beating my head against a wall to achieve that wish. Rather, I can amend it. Perhaps to collaborate with someone else, or to support one Venetia’s creations.

The next way I categorized them was by timeframe. The wish is either something I can do every day (or regularly), in the next year, in the next 10 years, in my lifetime. Here’s how mine broken down:

As you can see, by categorizing my wishes in this way, I start to see a timeline of wishes and possible action steps naturally fall into place from looking at this table.

Next, ask why…

The next step of this exercise is to ask the question WHY? Why these wishes? What is it about these activities, behaviors, goals, and so forth, that makes them important to you.

Considering the exercise of writing down 100 wishes is meant to be fast, firing out whatever comes to mind, the process of asking WHY is incredibly useful in determining which of my wishes I really cared about, and which I could live without. When I asked myself WHY I better understood my motivations behind the wish and actually ended up paring down my list to half the length it was originally. One way I filtered whether to keep it or not was by asking myself “Is there another way to achieve this WHY?” If there were other ways to achieve the WHY, I tended to take it off the list, or if the reason didn’t seem real enough (e.g. for outward appearance or superficial reasons).

I recommend this activity to others and I also recommend sharing your wishes. Sometimes they are deeply personal. That’s ok. There’s something magic that happens when you share your wishes for your life. Other people can start to help your wishes come true. For instance, one of my wishes is to visit Australia. Well, I have friends that live in Australia, and now they know that it’s one of my wishes to go there. They could offer me a place to stay or to show you me around during my visit (hint hint), making that wish a lot more achievable & encouraged.

To make it easy, I created this template for doing your own “100 Wishes” exercise. So no excuses, go for it! Write down your wishes for your life.

Life is short, so get wishing!

mel

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