I’ve been surprised by how enthusiastically people have embraced this approach to making changes and meeting aims for the new year. It’s a really fun exercise.
Well, we’re nearing the end of 2018, and I thought I’d review my progress so far.
I have to say, I’m pleased with my list! I’ve crossed off every item.
1. Start having weekly adventures with Eleanor.
Eleanor and I have gone on many adventures in 2018, to the Cooper Hewitt (Eleanor’s favorite museum), the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick, Color Factory exhibit, the Asia Society, and elsewhere. We also did a big adventure to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, though that doesn’t really count as a “weekly” adventure.
2. Fix my headset, runs out of battery really fast. 3. Set up a home studio in this closet for my “Ask Gretchen Rubin Live” Facebook show.
After talking to a lighting expert, I decided not to convert my closet, which he thought might seem claustrophobic to me and viewers, so instead, I bought a big standing light. He showed me how to adjust the light in the room for better video quality. Click here to view the schedule and join me on my next live show.
4. Work with Barnaby so he’s better at coming when I call him.
When I announced on the Happier podcast that I’d given up on this item, many listeners got in touch to encourage me to keep working on it—so I did! Now Barnaby does reliably come from anywhere in the apartment when I say “Barnaby, TOUCH.”
5. Clean out my massive tote bag collection. Each one is special. 6. Take Eleanor to get her contacts checked.
Although she (and I) resisted dealing with it, Eleanor is now very happy to be wearing contacts.
7. Start making consistent progress on “Report to the Committee on Exploration.”
We’re in the very final stages of this project! My friend and I are creating this together, and our part is finished. All that’s left is to receive the actual books. I’m so excited to see the final masterpiece. (If you want to read about a similar project called “Four to Llewelyn’s Edge,” I describe it here). We even have a gorgeous logo that was created by the brilliant Gabe Greenberg for this imaginary interstellar organization.
8. Create a work calendar for the year. 9. Finish My Color Pilgrimage and figure out what the heck to do with it; similarly, Outer Order, Inner Calm.
Outer Order, Inner Calm is well on its way to publication on March 5, 2019. (If you feel inclined to pre-order, I really appreciate it! Pre-orders give such a boost to a book among booksellers, the public, and the press). Because of that book’s publication, and also because The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition came out November 2018, I decided to postpone worrying about My Color Pilgrimage until February 2019. I want things to calm down a bit.
10. Tap more into my love of smell.
I’ve been trying new perfumes more consistently and wearing my favorites more consistently. (One of my favorite times to wear perfume? When I’m going to bed.) I also signed up for two terrific perfume courses at the Pratt Institute. This weekend is my final class. Most important, I’ve been more aware of scent as I go through my ordinary day. It’s easy to ignore smells, I find, if I don’t make an effort to notice and appreciate them.
11. Plan perfume field trip with a friend.
I did this twice and want to continue to do it. I’ve been to Perfumerie and Fueguia—I highly recommend both shops. I tried to go to Twisted Lily, which is near the Panoply studio where I recorded the Happier podcast, but it was closed. Eleanor and I went to an exhibit called “Design Beyond Vision” at the Cooper Hewitt—that was a great scent field trip. We visited a perfume museum when we were in Paris this summer. I’m always looking for a way to have a scent field trip.
12. Get new phone for camera to improve the video quality of my weekly Facebook show, “Ask Gretchen Rubin Live”. 13. Figure out Instagram features and use it regularly.
I still want to make better use of the many fun features of Instagram, but I am using it consistently. Eleanor has really enjoyed showing me how to use some of its quirkier aspects.
14. Decide on a cause to give to as a family.
We decided to give to Bottom Line, which helps low-income and first-generation-to-college students get to and through college; students get individual support to ensure they have the information and guidance they need to get into and graduate from college, from being a high-school senior all the way through to college graduation and career plan. I have a friend who works in philanthropy and is especially knowledgeable about educational organizations, and she recommended Bottom Line as an organization that does a really great job achieving its aims.
15. Create the Four Tendencies workshop.
As I expected, this item was one of the most demanding of all the items on the list. It took many months, lots of hard work, and the contributions of several terrific people. It’s so exciting to have it finished! Ever since Better Than Before was published, people have asked for a Four Tendencies workshop. It’s thrilling to be able to answer “yes” at last.
16. Deal with the items we want to donate to Housing Works.
In an extraordinary piece of luck, a Housing Works store has opened less than a block from my apartment. I’ve given so much to Housing Works (which, unlike many places, also accepts books). Working on Outer Order, Inner Calm has really helped me to stay focus on the satisfaction of donating items.
17. Creating a list for listeners of the Try This at Homes and Happiness Hacks so far.
At last! And just in time. You can download these two PDF resources here. I’ll update these lists at the end of each year, and periodically after that.
18. Get current with making physical photo albums with Shutterfly.
What conclusions do I draw from my list?
The biggest conclusion is that making an “18 for 2018” list is a great idea. I’m sure that I accomplished much more in 2018 than I would have otherwise. Putting items on the list, reviewing the list, talking it over with Elizabeth, seeing the list on the cork-board next to my desk, the desire to score a perfect 18 by December 31—all these mean that I’m much more likely to get these things done.
Plus it’s fun! I got a tremendous kick out of this challenge.
I’ve also concluded that it’s good to have a mix of items, with different levels of difficulty.
Some span a long period of time and take collaboration with other people, like #9 and #15.
Some are fairly easy, but need to be done regularly for me to see the benefit, like #1 or #16.
Some were fairly easy to cross off the list, like #14.
Some are time-consuming, but just once, or every once in a while, like #6.
Some are fun, like #10 and #11.
Some aren’t fun, like #18.
But they’ve all made my life happier in some way.
One question: Given that I completed all items, should I have aimed higher? Was I too modest in my list-making? Robert Browning wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,/Or what’s a heaven for?” I can see an argument for both approaches.