My list of 100 dreams.

My list of 100 dreams.

For almost 5 years, I’ve been trying to complete an exercise I first read about in Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think: create a personal list of 100 dreams.

The idea is this: to help you think through how you want to spend your time (in the big-picture sense) brainstorm an unedited list of anything you want to do (or want to do more of) in your life.

I made my first attempt right after reading the book for the first time back in 2011. It was harder than I thought: I only put 27 items on my list.

I’ve made a couple of stabs at a full 100-item list since then. For some reason, this exercise has been on my mind recently, and when we prepped for our big drive down to Florida last week, I packed a legal pad and a pen and warned Will this was happening (and that I needed his ideas).

(This wasn’t actually all that unusual: we have a long history of talking Crazy Talk in the car.)

Logging 10.5 hours in the car (even when split over two days) has an upside: I did it.

There’s no way I’m posting the full list here (we could call it “too much typing,” but “too much vulnerability” is probably more like it) but today I’m sharing a snippet.

Here’s the deal: grab a pen and some paper and start writing. Don’t edit yourself, but I would encourage you to go for experiences over material things, and to think about the local stuff as well as the once-in-a-lifetime big experiences. I tried to keep things relatively concrete and measurable (as opposed to “experience world peace,” for example).

I divided my list into 3 sections to make brainstorming easier, and I’m preserving those categories here:

A selection from my list of 100 dreams:


  1. Host dinner parties. Or start/join a supper club.
  2. Steward a Little Free Library.
  3. Take art classes.
  4. Go away for a girls’ weekend.
  5. Get really familiar with our local parks system. I want to know the trails like the back of my hand.
  6. Learn to use chopsticks. (I try, but I am terrible.)
  7. Plant a garden bursting with tulips.
  8. And a garden bed spilling over with zinnias.
  9. Find and perfect a signature dish.
  10. Learn to dance (ballroom, swing, I don’t even know).
  11. Do a pull-up.


  1. Visit the Pacific Northwest with the kids.
  2. And the California coast with the kids.
  3. Visit the Abbey of Gethsemani (local to us, but we’ve never been).
  4. And Mammoth Cave with the kids (also local, but I haven’t been since I was a kid).
  5. Revisit the International Wine Festival in Budapest (Will and I just happened to be in town for this the last time we were in Europe, and it was magical).
  6. Visit a ton of indie bookstores: Powell’s, Parnassus, the Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, and any others we happen to be near or can manage to get to.
  7. Take a small town road trip (definitely inspired by our recent experience).
  8. Visit the Grand Canyon.
  9. And at least five other national parks. (I’ve only been to Mt. Rainer …)
  10. Take the kids to Europe.
  11. Take an architecture tour in Barcelona.


  1. Write a few real book reviews. (I write about books a lot, but I rarely write formal reviews.)
  2. Develop stellar interview skills.
  3. Go on a writing retreat or take a formal writing class.
  4. Write some poetry as a skill-building exercise.
  5. Write a nonfiction book.
  6. And a novel.
  7. Write a long-form piece and publish it somewhere.
  8. Become an expert at something.
  9. Learn to take great photos.
  10. And edit them.
  11. Support others in their work in tangible, practical ways.

Want to make your own list? Please do! And tell me a few things you would put on YOUR list in comments. 

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