Hi, friends! I feel like it’s been forever since we last caught up. I was in Florida for Christmas and California for New Year’s Eve and fully intended to make my return to the blog last week before I came down with a nasty cold that had me in bed for three days. Not exactly the upbeat start to the new year I was hoping for but I’m feeling more than ready to make up for it this week!

I always love hearing about people’s goals and intentions for the new year — it makes me so motivated to tackle my own! As you probably know, I keep a list of 101 things I want to accomplish in the next 1,001 days (2.75 years) and that list really encompasses my goals for 2019 as well. My goals for reading, finances, fitness, organization, relationships, and travel — they’re all on there so please go take a look!

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One of my favorite things about this 101 in 1001 list feature is how many of you have been inspired to write your own lists. I’ve talked about this before, but following along as you all graduate from college, buy your first homes, get out of debt, get into shape, launch your own businesses, etc. is incredibly motivating for me in tackling my own goals and it’s so fulfilling to know that my blog has made an offline impact in some of your lives!

Around this time of year, I start to get more questions than usual asking for advice on writing a 101 in 1001 list and what that process looks like for me. I hope this post gives you the motivation you need to join this fun and inspiring community! If you decide to write your own list, please email or tweet me so I can add you to the list of more than 300 readers who have decided to share theirs online. I love, love, love getting to see what you’re all up to!

design darling tips for writing a 101 in 1001 list 1I’m on my third list now and have learned to give myself a couple months (or at least a few weeks!) to come up with so many goals in so many facets of my life — 101 is a big number! I usually start my next list with a few months remaining on my current list, but if this is your first list, there’s truly no time like the present to get started. I even made “come up with 101 things” a goal on my first list, so you can definitely start making progress before you come up with all 101 list items. 🙂

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I realized after my first list that it would help me to lump similar goals into overarching categories as opposed to trying to come up with 101 ideas across all aspects of my life. On my current 101 in 1001 list, I have categories for each of the following:

  • Personal development
  • Professional
  • Marriage
  • Family and friends
  • Home
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • Nantucket
  • Travel
  • Just for fun

These categories will likely be completely different for you but I highly recommend coming up with 8-10 categories that will provide overall direction for the goals they encompass. A few more category ideas I’ve seen: food (if you’re wanting to learn new recipes or get comfortable in the kitchen), dating (if you’re wanting to challenge yourself to go on more first dates), and style (if you’re overdue for a closet cleanout and want to invest in new wardrobe staples). There’s really no right or wrong here — the categories are just to guide your brainstorming, so anything that pops into your head (adventure, finances, health, home improvement, reading, self-care) can qualify. These categories should really be areas of your life that you’re passionate about and eager to improve in, so they can truly be anything! design darling tips for writing a 101 in 1001 list 3You may find that it’s easier to come up with goals for some categories than it is for others. I like to keep an open document on my desktop so I can add ideas as they come to me over the course of a few days or weeks. It’s natural that some categories have more list items than others — for instance, I have 16 goals under personal development and only 5 goals under travel — but try to come up with a few ideas under each category that really make you excited to get started.

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Since developing a new habit requires considerable time and practice, a 101 in 1001 list is a great place to keep track of your progress on habits you want to make part of your everyday life. I have goals related to reading books, working out, drinking water, increasing my daily step count, and becoming a morning person on my list. If you’ve found yourself wishing you spent less time on your phone (who hasn’t thanks to the new screen time feature?!), planned more weekend trips, hosted more parties, swam more laps, or tried more new restaurants, all of these would make excellent additions to your 101 in 1001 list!

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If and when you get stumped coming up with new ideas, remember that the point of a 101 in 1001 list is to get you thinking about goals that fall somewhere between a to do list and a bucket list. What would you be psyched to have accomplished three years from now? I like to make each list a mix of the following:

  • goals that could be crossed off in one day (ordering business cards, going ice skating, buying dinner for a table of strangers)
  • goals that require me to develop new habits (reading 50 books, finishing a 12-week workout, taking vitamins every day for at least a month)
  • goals that mark the finish line of current or ongoing projects (launching a website redesign, changing my last name, organizing my home office)
  • goals that feel pretty daunting and that I’d be over the moon to cross off (getting Lasik eye surgery, buying a home, setting foot on a new continent)
  • goals that are 100% just for fun, to get me out of my routine and making new memories (skiing with my husband, taking a trapeze lesson, traveling with another couple, doing a polar bear plunge)

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In addition to updating my list on a dedicated page of my blog, I also keep the same list in a Word document on the desktop of my computer so I can highlight goals I want to cross off in the near future and have a daily reminder of what I’m working towards. Even if you don’t want to publish your list anywhere online, decide whether a digital tracking system will work for you or whether you’d do best to print out your list and cross items off manually. Maybe you live and die by your notebook, maybe you’ll want to keep a copy on your desk, maybe you’ll want to tape it to your fridge so you see it every day! 

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I published my first 101 in 1001 list on Design Darling during my senior year of college in 2011 and have since realized how insanely fortunate I am to have an online community cheering me on as I set my sights on new goals. See if you can recruit a buddy (friend, significant other, parent, coworker) to write his or her own list and to check in with you every couple months on your list. My cousin Wyatt wrote his own 101 in 1001 list when he moved to London for work and has started an email thread with friends all over the world to keep them posted on his progress — I am always so excited when a new update pops up in my inbox! If you can’t recruit someone in real life to write a list with you, connect with one of the many other people who have shared their 101 in 1001 lists online. I link every new list to the bottom of my current list, but you can find old lists (and endless inspiration for writing your own goals!) linked from the bottom of my first and second lists as well. 

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Once you’ve written out your goals and found a buddy to help keep you on track, it’s go time! Be sure to send me your list by email ( or on Twitter (@mackenziehoran) so I can link your list from the bottom of my current list. Having a community of other goal-oriented list-makers is the best part, so be sure to connect with others who have written 101 in 1001 lists and encourage them to follow your progress as well!

If you’ve ever thought about putting pen to paper and creating your own 101 in 1001 list, I hope this post gives you the push you need to make it happen! I’m so excited to follow along with each and every one of you as you pursue the goals most meaningful to you. And stay tuned as I tackle the remaining 69 items on my list this year!

9 thoughts on “TIPS FOR WRITING A 101 IN 1001 LIST

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  1. Love this idea of doing a 101 list. Do you have a template you use that you could share? Thank you!

  2. I’ve really loved having my 101 in 1001 list to keep me motivated and give me ideas of things to do!! Thanks for always sharing your list!!