I'm still pleased with the progress I'm making toward my 95 by 65 goals, though what remains to be done in two years is intimidating. I've completed 14 goals in the first six months, an average of 2.3/month, which is behind the needed average of 3.17/month. I console myself that I've made significant progress toward several other goals, but with the sobering reminder that many of the more time-consuming and difficult goals have not yet been touched.
I still love the 95 by 65 idea, or 101 Things in 1001 Days (which was my inspiration), or any form of setting goals over time. It helps me keep track of what I've done, it helps me organize what I do, and it helps me focus my efforts. It also shows me where other people are "on my team," and gives me a much-needed boost in directions I might otherwise neglect. I feel somewhat ridiculous about the last: I shouldn't need encouragement to respond with enthusiasm when my husband suggests we try a new restaurant, or when friends from out of state (or country) invite us to visit them. But it turns out that for me, "it's on the list" has enormous power to counteract the nagging voices of "it's too expensive," "I don't have time for that," "it's too much work," and "there are more urgent tasks that demand my attention." Maybe all of those naysaying voices are correct—one reason it's important to populate one's list with care—but I love that the list liberates me to enjoy the activities, enthusiastically and without feeling guilty.
Completed In Progress
- To Live
- Create 95 by 65 list—Completed 1/24/15
- Create the Leon Project—Completed 1/12/15
- Create/tweak/finalize/codify 60 family recipes
- Develop and sustain a system for making bread regularly
- Develop and sustain a system for making yoghurt regularly
- Experiment with making kefir
- Finish Janet's birthday 2009 recipe book
- Go through all recipe books, digitizing what looks good, getting rid of all but essentials/favorites
- Complete a biking challenge (details to come)
- Complete a swimming challenge (details to come)
- Complete a walking challenge (details to come)
- Design 5 Life Playground stations
- Develop a stretching plan and execute at least 3x/week for a month
- Execute 50 pushups nonstop on the higher bar at the park—I've been stuck at 10 for quite a while due to injury
- Find a GPS distance tracker that works for me
- Practice deliberate relaxation twice a day for a month—Completed 5/16/15. This is worth keeping. I lost the habit during my month in Switzerland, but don't anticipate any problems picking it up again, now that I feel the value of it.
- Reach my desired weight goal
- Run nonstop 3 times around the park trail then participate in a 5K race (any speed)—I'm making good progress here, having reached the 3 times around interim goal on 5/30/15. But I'm not quite ready for the 5K, not only because the park circuit is not quite a mile, but because I need to build back up after scaling back (but not eliminating!) while I was in Switzerland.
- Declutter and organize phone
- Declutter blog template files
- Declutter computer
- Declutter garage
- Declutter marked items in Janet's room
- Declutter my office
- Declutter our filing cabinets (with Porter)
- Declutter sewing supplies
- Develop a quick system for travel prep and packing
- Recycle collected ink cartridges—I know this looks easy, but I'm trying to do it in a way that I use the credit I get for recycling them. I miss the easy 1 cartridge = 1 ream of paper days!
- Research and purchase food processor—Completed 1/30/15. I need to use it more, but I like it. Very nice for making pie crust, as I learned from Heather.
- Set up identification system for files to grab in an emergency
- Create another goal-oriented project for when this one is over
- Create an herb garden
- Get a working back porch sink
- Attend 15 live performances (e.g. music, drama, lectures)—60% done
- Convert our Christmas card system to postal + e-mail
- Refrain from negative speech for 1 day. Do this 30 times. (Since sometimes negative things must be said, this will include recasting negative things in a neutral or positive tone.)
- Share at least 20 meals with others (home or restaurant, but not counting multi-day visits or shared meals already in place)—65% done
- Try at least 5 new restaurants—Completed 4/10/15. Clearly I set this goal 'way too low, since I'm up to 9 so far and anticipate many more.
- Visit Universal/IoA four times—Completed 5/15/15. Dr. Doom's Fear Fall, fish & chips and butterbeer! No need to renew the annual passes anytime soon, but it was fun while they lasted.
- Watch NCIS LA from the beginning—We're up to Season 4 (2012)
- Watch Unbroken—Completed 4/24/15. Worth watching, though it doesn't do justice to the book.
- Join in the choir trip to Austria
- Visit a country I've never been to
- Visit a state I've never been to—Completed 4/9/15. Missouri (St. Louis). Great visit with NM&B. New museums, new restaurants, and a genealogy breakthrough.
- Visit with all immediate family members at least once per year (I changed "visit" to "visit with"; it doesn't have to be at their homes)—I've completed all but 4 so far for 2015, including the international visit.
- Visit Arizona
- Visit either Costa Rica or the Gambia
- Visit King Arthur Flour—Completed 2/12/15
- Keep up a 10 posts/month blogging schedule for 20 months (not necessarily consecutive)—Modified from "two posts/week" to make record keeping easier. 30% done
- Send at least 4 care packages to each of our freshman nephews
- Write an encouraging note each month to someone other than family—6/6 so far. This turns out to be one of the more challenging goals, not because it's hard to write the notes, but because I have to remember before the end of each month. I didn't give myself any leeway with this one.
- Write at least 10 letters to political officeholders—Only one so far...I need to get on this.
- Write at least 5 notes of encouragement to each nephew
- Write at least 75 physical letters to children/grandchildren—10 so far
- Join Google+—I have an invitation; I just need to do it...
- Join Twitter—Completed 2/9/15. I don't use it much, but enjoy checking the feed now and then, and even used it to send one of the encouraging notes (goal #51).
- Finish chronological Bible reading plan—Almost there; 94% done.
- Start and complete other daily Bible reading plans
- Achieve 40,000 duolingo points (average 1,000/month, split between French and German)—I'm 'way ahead of schedule on this one, 64% complete
- Listen to all of Pimsleur German I—Completed 5/30/15. I recently acquired German II, so I'll move on to that when I get it converted to a form I can listen to on my phone.
- Complete George MacDonald reading plan (50 books, 14 completed in 2014)—52% done
- Read 130 books (new or old, print or audio, any level)—29% done
- Read 26 existing but as yet unread books from my bookshevles—12% done. This is so much harder than you'd think, because there are so many new, interesting books that come to my attention.
- Read The History of the Renaissance World
- Read the Koran—Completed 4/14/15
- Complete 100 Great Courses lectures (Measured by lecture rather than course because some courses are longer than others, and so I can count free lectures they sometimes offer.)—46% done
- Experience all 37 of Shakespeare's plays (attend, watch, and/or read)—16% done
- Make 30 museum visits—23% done
- Set and attain BrainHQ goal
- Set and attain Khan Academy goal
- Set and attain Memrise goal
- Set and attain Sporcle goal
- Copy LPs to CDs
- Copy tapes to CDs—Porter is working on this
- Convert WRL memorial PPT to video
- Complete conversion of bits PPTs to videos
- Create 20 new GTC shows
- Create a form of GTC independent of YouTube and useable offline
- Create scent bits
- Make new family bits (was just "for Heather," but now Janet needs some, too)
- Print bit back labels for Heather
- Clean up, expand, and document the lines I currently have in my tree
- Enter unentered genealogy data
- Publish revised editions of Honor Enough volumes 1-4
- Rocket boost genealogy work by end of January 2015 (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over 2 weeks)—Completed 2/1/15. Unfortunately, I haven't done much since....
- Update Phoebe's Quilt and print in "final" form
- Create one photo album with Picaboo
- Digitize photos
- Digitize slides
- Organize photos 2007-2011 (subgroups 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- Organize photos 2012-2016 (subgroups 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
- Research and purchase scanner suitable for prints and slides
- Rocket boost photo work (40 hours of work in segments of 1 or more hours, over 2 weeks)
- Make (at least) 2 baby blankets—Completed 5/14/15. Two grandbabies! Hooray!
To Leave a Legacy
As promised in my Leon Project post, here is my list of 95 things to accomplish by my 65th birthday, which is approximately two and a half years away. The list was extraordinarily difficult to create. Others have told me they had trouble coming up with such a large list; for me the problem was to keep it from expanding exponentially. I am terribly intimidated by both the apparent ambitiousness of the list—which includes many projects that have languished on my To Do list for years, even decades—and by knowing that I've left out far more of what I want to do than I've included, not to mention the activities that make up most of everyday life. Many of the items on the list can be broken down into 95 items of their own. A few are simple; I put those in to keep myself encouraged, though unfortunately I had to take many of them out to pare the list to 95. When I think of the time and effort this list represents, and realize that it's but a sampling of what I want to accomplish, it's no wonder that "my work" fills my days and is never far from my thoughts. But, to claim a cliché from our old favorite General Electric ride at EPCOT (Horizons), If we can dream it, we can do it. At least I'm going to try. Certainly it's a lot more likely to happen than if I don't dare to dream it.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to categorize my list items. In the end, I shamelessly copied from Stephen Covey's To Live, To Learn, To Love, and To Leave a Legacy. Live gets the items related to everyday life and to health, including organization and exercise. Into the Love category I put spiritual exercises, anything for which I deem the primary purpose to be social (from watching movies to visiting friends to joining Twitter). Learn gets reading and other cultural activities, mental exercises, and language learning. My genealogy work goes into the Legacy category, along with Grandma's Treasure Chest and other educational materials creation, and photo/audio/video work. Some items could easily go into more than one category, but I made myself stop stressing about that: this is a tool, not a master, and it doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be.
I look forward to collaborating with Sarah in mutual support and encouragement. And to having a list of accomplishments as a 65th birthday present for my inner Leon.
Here's is the original list. If anyone wants to follow my progress, there's a link to the Google Sheet on the sidebar (under Links/Personal). (More)
Leon? Who or what is Leon?
Leon was my boss a few eons ago, back at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He was a good boss, but one thing about him frustrated me. Day after day I'd work steadily, creating algorithms and developing computer programs for our laboratory. To all appearances, this did not impress him; it was simply what he was paying me to do. What made him light up with pleasure and praise, however, was when I'd take the extra time to create a computer display related to my work. Although I learned to produce these displays periodically, mostly to please him, it drove me crazy that I was being recognized for the "flash," and not for the bulk of the work, the more important work, that was behind it. However much he might have trusted me to do good work (he chose to hire me, after all), he also needed the occasional, tangible reminder that I was worthy of his trust. As it turned out, so did I.
Fast forward to every homemaker's frustration, every mother's least favorite question: What do you do all day? We know how long and how hard we work, and how critically important our labors are. All too often, however, the people we meet at parties, our friends in paid employment, and even those closest to us seem sincerely puzzled as to why our jobs take up so much time. That is frustrating to no end, but in fact it's true of most professions. No one from the outside can truly appreciate what it takes to do another's job, particularly since the hallmark of the best in a profession is the ability to make the work look easy.
I've discovered over time that Leon was not alone in his need for tangible measures of the value of our work. Maybe there's no purpose in sharing the details with people we meet at parties, but bosses, co-workers, spouses, fellow-strugglers, and even (no, especially) we ourselves need occasional reassurance that we are making progress. We are all Leon.
Why, then, do some of us find it so difficult to provide measurable documentation of our work? I've come up with a few suggestions, based on my own experience and on what I've learned from others.
- It takes time away from more important work. Who needs to add yet another camel-straw to the crushing burden of work undone versus sand slipping through the hourglass? As I learned in the computer biz, however, documentation is essential, however much it feels like a waste of precious time. Without documentation, others can't step in when we have to step back. What's more, putting what we do into words brings clarity to our own vision. If we don't know something well enough to explain it, we don't know it well enough.
- We don't like to make our work public until it's in final form. This is perfectionism, and Don Aslett would not approve. In fact, he insists that telling others about our work while it's still in progress is a good way to get help. It's also a good way to get kibitzers and critics, however.
- Our goals have long paths and far horizons. How do you quantify a happy child? A valued relationship? Growth and development? How can we help people appreciate our work without making their eyes glaze over? A journalist can point on a regular basis to articles published, a doctor to patients cured, and a trash collector to clean streets, but in many professions success, when it comes, is preceded by thousands of failed experiments, research lines that didn't pan out, apparently fruitless counseling sessions, and draft pages ripped from typewriters, crumpled and tossed away. It's all part of the process, but not conducive to marking milestones and erecting ebenezers ("hither by Thy help I'm come"). The employed can at least point to a paycheck, but unpaid work lacks even that.
- We're not "announcers" by nature. Some people like to chat about all the details of their lives, no matter how intimate or trivial. These are good people to have around, as they take the greater share of the conversation burden. But some of us don't see the point of such loquaciousness, or are simply uncomfortable with the idea. This is another good reason for developing a documentation strategy: we take control over what and how we share.
- We want to be trusted with our own work. We are not employees, and don't like the feeling that we are being supervised. As it turns out, however, this is not as significant a factor as I had once thought. We're not employees? Well, the self-employed have the hardest taskmaster of all, one who knows best all our weaknesses, struggles and failures. That boss needs the comfort of tangible markers more than anyone.
In light of these meditations, I've developed The Leon Project. Call it a New Year's resolution if you wish. I have hundreds of ongoing projects in various stages of completion, including not-yet-started and not-in-this-lifetime (genealogy is never finished!). This year I'm making an effort to document where I am, what I'm doing, and where I want to go, with hopes of developing a better road map, complete with milestones to which I can look back and say, "thus far have I come."
A large part of this effort will involve partnering with my sister-in-law in her "101 Things in 1001 Days" project. I have approximately two and a half years until my 65th birthday, which falls a bit short of 1001 days, so I'm calling my version, "95 by 65." (That will become a link when I publish its own post.) She started her project last year, but has graciously adjusted her schedule so that we both will finish on my 65th birthday. We are hoping that by doing our projects together we can encourage each other to keep going and reach our goals—which range from the trivial to the highly ambitious.
I've created two new post categories, The Leon Project and 95 by 65, in expectation of keeping some of the anticipated documentation here. I look forward to the adventure with both enthusiasm and trepidation.
Aside: This is not the first Leon Project post I have written. A few days ago the first one was nearly ready to post, but somehow overnight the bulk of the long essay disappeared. (Note to self: never assume that something you thought you saved actually succeeded in that process.) It took a while before I got to the point of being able to rewrite, and of course the two are quite different. Which is better we'll never know. This one, at least, has made it to the finish line.