History of My Life List

Originally written in November 2013:

Earlier this year I realized I was stuck and that I needed to vastly shake up my life. I had stopped taking chances, seeking out new adventures, and I was scared to step out of my comfort zone.

I was scheduled to take my first solo trip to Nashville, a new city for me, but even that didn't seem quite enough. Would I come home after my long weekend and retreat into recent habits? Was the trip enough to pull me out of my comfort zone permanently and never look back?

Knowing that life changes that stick require constant practice and a singular focus, I knew that if I were going to be able to fully break the habit of being stuck and fearful and open myself up to new opportunities and happiness, I had to do something grand and hold myself publicly accountable for it.

Then I read a tweet by Amy Guth about her challenge to have 1,000 new experiences in 12 months. My initial reaction was, "I could NEVER have 1,000 experiences in 12 months! That's almost 3 per day!"

But I couldn't let go of the idea of new experiences in a specific time frame. I had created a Bucket List three years ago and I was slowly but surely making progress on it, but it didn't feel immediate enough. Everything on it was a "someday" item. None of us is promised "someday" and I realized that if I didn't get to work, none of those "someday" items would ever come to fruition.

While I didn't have the confidence to do 1,000 new experiences in a year, I thought I could probably manage to have 100 new experiences. And the list was born.

Now, I did establish some rules for my list. First and foremost, the list is about experiences, not things. Research says that people who are truly happiest in life have memories of experiences, not things. Second, I needed to define "new." I decided that "new" meant an experience I had never had or one that I hadn't had in at least 10 years. Third and most important, my 100 New Experiences isn't about checking boxes. I needed to learn how to fully enjoy the moment and be present in each of my experiences.

As I write this in mid-November, I've had close to 75 experiences and have decided that I'm going to finish the first 100 by December 31st and then have 50 more experiences by April 10, 2014. Then a new list starts.

Want to track my progress? Visit my 100 New Experiences 2013-14 List on Little Merry Sunshine 1.0 and you'll the find the entire list along with links to the posts about them.

UPDATE 1 on January 12, 2014: I finished my stretch goal of having 100 New Experiences by December 31, 2013. Read about all of my completed experiences here.

UPDATE 2 on April 11, 2014: I blew my stretch goal out of the water and finished the Year 1 of my Life List on April 10, 2014 with 160 New Experiences. Read about the 160 experiences and the six lessons I learned here.

My new Life List has been published. Follow the fun here.

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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