My 95 by 65 project is complete. The two and a half years have flown by, and suddenly I am an official senior citizen, with all the discount privileges thereof. (Along with the thrills and expense of being on Medicare, but that's another story.) The details are in a companion post, 95 by 65 - The Tally. Here I want to ruminate about the purpose of my 95 by 65 project, and what it has accomplished.
I went into this adventure simply with the idea of focussing my efforts and providing some documentation for my accomplishments, though as time went on, the purpose of the project took on a more coherent form. The items on my list were chosen, some purposefully, some almost randomly, from a "to do before I die" list so overwhelming it would make me live forever if I had anything to say about it.
Then there were the activities I put on the list because I knew that they were things my husband wanted to do. That worked out better than I had imagined. As is true for many women I know, I had looked forward to my husband's retirement with mixed feelings. Sure, it would be great to have him happier and more available, but while retirement meant more time for him to attend to his own projects, it meant less time for me to work on mine. The 95 by 65 list turned out to be a great way to get us on the same page for a number of activities, which was a mental health boost for both of us.
Another very useful, unanticipated side effect was the project's value in establishing habits. True, this slowed down my progress through the list, because when I completed, for example, #59 Achieve 40,000 DuoLingo points, I did not stop doing DuoLingo lessons, thereby freeing up time to work on something else. I had established the habit. I hope to use this leverage more purposefully for next year's list.
Yes, there will be a next year's list, and my sister-in-law plans to join me again with one of her own. We both feel the need of a shorter time span than two and a half years, and have chosen July - June as the period. There's to much else that goes on near the end of the calendar year to want to go from January through December. Besides, I want to get going on the new list! Not that the new list is complete yet, but I have enough to get started.
I'm convinced it was to my advantage to have the list. I learned a few things about making such goals, such as that "do something X times" allows for procrastination leading to failure (as with #52 Write at least 10 letters to political officeholders), but usually works well and is much less stressful than "do something every month," which leads to fear of missing a deadline and doesn't allow for working ahead.
I also learned that several of my goals were impossibly large, such as #92 Organize photos 2012-2016. Despite the huge amount of time I poured into the project, I managed to complete only one of those years (2015), though I did make some organizational progress on the others. And while all this was going on, we did enough travelling to add far more new photos to the processing pile than I had succeeded in removing. Of course, I did know at the outset that this would be a big project; it was foolish to lump all those years together in one goal, but I did so because I had run out of the "95." I was only fooling myself.
When I began, I really thought I had a chance to reach all of my goals; certainly I didn't expect to be happy having accomplished just over half. But I am. It's nothing short of miraculous how the list helped me—helped both of us—focus. I accomplished many things that I know simply would never have been finished without the list (e.g. #57 Experience all 37 of Shakespeare's plays), and others that would have been hit-or-miss or procrastinated to death (e.g. #51 Write an encouraging note each month to someone other than family). Would we have still made our visit to The Gambia if it had not been on the list? I like to think so, but I also know how easy it would have been to let the months fly until the window of opportunity had passed.
Without this list, it would be too easy to focus on what I have not (yet) accomplished. Even with it, I'm painfully aware of projects (and whole areas of projects) that have been sorely neglected in the past two and a half years. But without the list, that's all I'd see; with it, I can say to myself, "but look at how much else I did." What's more, several of the items inspired similar non-list accomplishments.
It's an experiment worth refining and repeating. Onward and upward!