Review Your “21 for 2021” List

For the last several years, on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, we’ve talked about why we make an annual list, tied to the year, of all the things we’d like to get done during that year.

In episode 149, we talked about our “18 for 2018” lists; in episode 203, “19 for 2019” lists; in episode 255, “20 for 2020” lists. Most recently, in episode 307, we revealed our “21 for 2021” lists. 

Research shows that making a concrete, specific list, and referring back to it, really does help people achieve their aims. And for many people, this approach seems more fun than make traditional new year’s resolutions.

Now that 2021 is about half-way finished, it’s time to review our “21 for ’21” lists.

Gretchen’s “21 for ’21”:

  1. Make a list of friends and colleagues I want to connect with by phone or Zoom – STARTED BUT NEED TO UPDATE
  2. Make two plans a week to connect with the people on that list – SORT OF
  3. Figure out the light-bulb question – SO CONFUSING THAT I STARTED THEN STALLED
  4. Have a scent party
  5. Have a taste party
  7. Make an Album of Now – UNDERWAY
  8. Get my Real I.D. (Good news: the Department of Homeland Security extended the deadline to May 3, 2023)
  9. Practice my driving (as I wrote about in Happier at Home, I’m a fearful driver) – UNDERWAY
  10. Read a Summer of Virginia Woolf – UNDERWAY
  11. Make an appointment to help me make better outfits from my own clothes
  12. Do 30 minutes of “review” each work day
  13. Add photos to my address book – UNDERWAY
  14. Watch Mad Men – DONE (listen to our bonus episode recap of the series)
  15. Look at old photo albums and home videos with my family
  16. Review my giant “happiness” catch-all document
  17. Play around with well-being apps
  18. Get our big red chair recovered – DONE
  19. Deal with my sent/trash folders – DONE
  20. Shine a spotlight on work I admire; amplify the work of others – UNDERWAY
  21. Add one new item!

Elizabeth’s “21 for ’21”:

  1. Get the vaccine – DONE
  2. Get a Real I.D.
  3. Celebrate her friend Mike’s 50th birthday with friends – UNDERWAY
  4. Get Fraxel
  5. Sell two TV pitches – SOLD ONE
  6. Eat lots of vegetables, and to help with that, avoid using Postmates at night during the week – SORT OF
  7. Do another “sober month” – DONE
  8. Get through her giant book pile for #Read21in21 (if you want a don’t-break-the-chain sheet for #Read21in21, it’s here) – UNDERWAY
  9. Get a will
  10. Educate herself about investing in property
  11. Do a Happier in Hollywood meet-up (post-vaccine)
  12. Walk to Malibu – UNDERWAY
  13. Continue #Walk20in20 (if you want a don’t-break-the-chain sheet for #Walk20in21, it’s here)
  14. Weigh herself daily STOPPED IN PUERTO RICO
  15. Use her Waterpic at least three times a week – DITTO
  16. Create a fiction podcast
  17. Trust her gut, especially at work – COULD BE BETTER
  18. Go to Disneyland
  19. Visit Miraval for a friend’s birthday
  20. Take Jack boogie-boarding at least 5 times
  21. In making hiring decisions for Fantasy Island, put her actions behind her intent to provide opportunities for all – DONE
Bottom line: both Elizabeth and I have many items that remain to be checked off! I find it very useful to review the list. I keep it posted on the bulletin board next to my desk, but it’s easy to let my gaze slide over it, without getting reminded of what I want to accomplish. When I remember all the things I want to get done, I feel inspired to add new tasks into my daily routine. After all, all the items on my list are things that will make me happier. Anything is useful that prompts us to reflect on our lives, and what we want, and what changes we might undertake to make ourselves happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative. That prompt could be a date (like January 1 or a birthday), an event (like a medical diagnosis or a job change), or a new idea (like an idea from a book or someone’s comment). Along the same lines, I choose a one-word theme each year. It’s another way to push myself to reflect and act. And like the “21 for 21 list,” it somehow feels more creative and fun than the traditional New Year’s resolution (which I also enjoy). Did you make a “21 for ’21” list? Have you made much progress? We still have a lot of time left, before the year comes to an end. If you’d like a sheet on which to record your “21 for ’21” list, you can download a free PDF here.



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