Podcast 255: We Reveal Our “20 for 2020” Lists as well as a Color-Related Hack, and Give a Happiness-Bully Demerit


Remember, #Walk20in20! Download the “Don’t Break the Chain” one-pager to track your progress here. 

Try This at Home

Choose your “20 for 2020.”

Elizabeth and I love this exercise, and this is the third year we’ve done it. In episode 149, we talk about our “18 for 2018” lists and in episode 203, we discussed our “19 for 2019” lists. So helpful, so fun!

Research shows that people who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives.

We’ve heard from so many listeners, who have had great observations or twists on the idea:

  • be willing to revisit an item if it’s not working
  • make a “ta-da” list for everything you achieved in the last year—give yourself that gold star
  • do 20 things for yourself and 20 things for other people (for the year “2020”)
  • do 10 stretch goals and 10 easy goals
  • consider this a “perhaps” list if that’s more appealing (Rebels!)
  • make a list of 20 items that all include the number 20—fun!
  • do a beautiful presentation of your list
  • put your list somewhere where you’ll see it often
  • if there’s a challenging item on your list, and it’s hard to get started, consider working on it for 20 minutes a day


Gretchen’s 20 for 2020 list:

Inspired by listeners, for the first time I grouped my items into categories:

Writing and Reading and Podcasting

1. Go to Met every day 

2. Summer of Woolf (last year was Summer of Proust

3. Make a Scrapbook of “Now” (repeat from 2019) 

4. Have a scent party and a flavor party

5. Work on my playful projects: Color; “My America Feeling”; “Report to the Committee on Exploration”

Health and Exercise

6. Start Pilates 

7. Back exercises 

8. Walk 20 minutes in ’20 of course! 

9. Weekly walk with a friend 

10. Get a colonoscopy 

11. Get a shingles vaccine


12. Re-do the Life Timeline books for me, Eliza, and Eleanor 

13. Catch up on my photo albums


14. Have eight people over for dinner, six times (repeat from 19 for 2019) 

15. Have a podcasters’ party 

16. Make an effort to look more visibly happy to see people

Upping my game

17. Money 2020: improve my reporting system for my professional income and expenses 

18. Wear make-up every day


19. Identify an organization that we want to donate to as a family 

20. Reach out with LOVE! To me, to find common ground we must go to higher ground.

I also have a shadow list, with things I don’t tell anyone.

My word for 2020 is “Infrastructure.” 

Elizabeth’s 20 for 2020 list:

    1. Get Jack’s passport renewed
    2. Plan a vegetable garden—Jack wants to do this, too
    3. Celebrate 20 years of writing partnership with Sarah
    4. Moms’ spa trip
    5. Cut down on processed food, eat more vegetables, “cook” twice a week
    6. Paint her fingernails for special occasions (for example, our live tour)
    7. Read 20 novels
    8. Write a will—this is important!
    9. Create and sell Happier in Hollywood merchandise
    10. Get together with college friends in Miami.  
    11. Complete the first fiction podcast with Sarah
    12. Go to spin class (repeat from 2018)
    13. Want to go to Integraton (repeat from 2019)
    14. Get the perfect gold necklace! (repeat from 2019)
    15. Love without expectation
    16. Wear her blazers at least three times each week
    17. Take a week-long family vacation
    18. Figure out the latest version of Final Draft software
    19. Buy three extra phone chargers
    20. Have monthly dinners with our neighbors

It occurs to me that these “20 for 2020” lists would be a great ice-breaker if you want to help a group of people get to know each other. The list gives you a real sense of a person’s values and interests, points of connection, and questions to ask.


“The biggest happiness is when at the end of the year you feel better than at the beginning.”  – Henry David Thoreau

If you want a page where you can fill out your list, you can download it here. We’d love to see your list! Post it to #20for2020

Happiness Hack

If it’s something you want to spot easily, get in a bright color (like my red Bandolier).

Gretchen’s Demerit: I gave Eliza too much advice. As our mother has observed: If you tell people what to do, they’ll stop confiding in you; if you have strong opinions, they’ll stop confiding in you. I am a happiness bully!

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth is really enjoying the fascinating How I Built This podcast.


  • Are you joining us to make a #20for2020 list? I created a PDF so you can write your list and post it somewhere prominent to keep it uppermost in your mind throughout the year. Click here to download.

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