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New year’s resolutions are a terrible idea. That’s not just my opinion, it’s a statement backed up by actual research, by people who have looked into this sort of thing. The main problem is that resolutions tend to be overly optimistic, setting up for failure. And with all-or-nothing thinking, failure can set us back further than we were to start with.

You know what I’m talking about – “I was only going to eat fresh fruit and vegetables this year, but then I had a mini mars bar, so I might as well convert that entire loaf of bread into peanut butter on toast and stuff it all into my face-hole while watching back-to-back episodes of Friends for the 37th time”.

And this is a pity, because the new year is a great time to engage (or indulge) in a bit of self reflection. To take stock of what happened over the past year and to look forward to the year ahead. So how can we harness the energy and enthusiasm of the new year, without lashing ourselves to the metaphorical bucking bronco of self improvement?

In 2018 I’m going for the option suggested by writer and personal hero Kelly Sue DeConnickThe Überlist.

At the end of 1997, Kelly Sue and a friend of hers (Nikol Lohr) decided that rather than picking a single resolution for the final years of the millennium (particularly one that focused on doing less of something, or avoiding something) they were going to pick 98 things that they wanted to do in 1998. They like the idea so much that they did it again the next year, but this time with a list of 99 things, then 100 things in 2000, and 101 things in 2001 – you can see where we’re going with this, right?

The concept is simple. It’s a great big list of things that you want to achieve over the next 12 months. It’s a similar idea to the GTD project list, or even a good old fashioned bucket list of things to do before you die. It’s part aspirational, part motivational, and part things-I’ve-been-meaning-to-do-for-ages-and-haven’t-yet-got-around-to. Importantly it’s all things that are (largely) under my control to get done – no grand goals of winning awards, being hired by the perfect company, or getting discovered by a billionaire benefactor.

So, here’s my Überlist of 118 things for  2018. They’re vaguely grouped together, but are otherwise in no particular order. There’s also a few items on the list which I’m keeping private for now – things that affect other people, or that I’m not quite comfortable going public with, just yet.

The Überlist

  1. reach 50% fluency Duolingo Danish (this isn’t anything close to being 50% fluent in Danish, obviously)
  2. 55% fluency Duolingo Danish
  3. 60% fluency Duolingo Danish
  4. understand Danish numbers properly (those things are cray cray)
  5. (redacted BIG goal)
  6. descale kettle
  7. make downstairs loo usable
  8. clean oven
  9. dispose of 1 piece of art (I still have a fair amount of old stock left over from my gallery days, it is much better off on someone else’s wall than stored in my spare room)
  10. dispose of 2 pieces of art
  11. dispose of 3 pieces of art
  12. dispose of 4 pieces of art
  13. dispose of 5 pieces of art
  14. dispose of 6 pieces of art
  15. dispose of 7 pieces of art
  16. dispose of 8 pieces of art
  17. dispose of 9 pieces of art
  18. dispose of 10 pieces of art
  19. dispose of 11 pieces of art
  20. dispose of 12 pieces of art
  21. dispose of 13 pieces of art
  22. dispose of 14 pieces of art
  23. dispose of 15 pieces of art
  24. dispose of calendars (this is also old gallery stock)
  25. dispose hanging system (more old gallery stuff)
  26. dispose of CCTV (and yet more of it)
  27. dispose of clothes (either sell on eBay or donate to charity)
  28. dispose of stuff (ditto)
  29. fix blind in bedroom
  30. fix window in bedroom
  31. finish (or bin) bedside cabinet
  32. sort out garden
  33. repaint front of house
  34. deep clean bathroom
  35. tidy medicine draw
  36. sort out window above back door
  37. restore (or bin) dolls house
  38. fix desk
  39. sew cushions for sofa in spare room
  40. get up to date with comics
  41. read fiction book 1
  42. read fiction book 2
  43. read fiction book 3
  44. read fiction book 4
  45. read biography 1
  46. read biography 2
  47. read biography 3
  48. practice cello once
  49. practice cello 5 times
  50. practice cello 10 times
  51. practice cello 25 times
  52. practice cello 50 times
  53. sew every day in January
  54. entertain at home 1 (food, movie nights, games nights, whatever)
  55. entertain at home 2
  56. entertain at home 3
  57. entertain at home 4
  58. visit exhibition 1 (I live in a city with world class galleries and museums – I’d like to spend more time in them than I do)
  59. visit exhibition 2
  60. visit exhibition 3
  61. visit exhibition 4
  62. visit exhibition 5
  63. visit exhibition 6
  64. go to live event 1
  65. go to live event 2
  66. clear document recovery panel on office programmes (I spend too much time clicking on “I want to see these later)
  67. return library books (I’m a bad person)
  68. get right with HMRC (ditto)
  69. get right with Companies House (ditto)
  70. set up a budget (ditto)
  71. sort out internet/app banking
  72. spend less than we bring in
  73. sort and clear piles of paper (I swear paper actually reproduces itself in this house)
  74. audit passwords (I’ve got a password manager now, so there really is no excuse to be using the same password twice)
  75. check PPI (because you never know)
  76. check hacked emails (because you ought to know)
  77. weigh less than 11st (current weight  = I’m not actually sure)
  78. weigh less than 10.5st
  79. weigh less than 10st
  80. weigh less than 9.5st
  81. run 2k (these are cumulative distances – every little helps)
  82. run 5k
  83. run 10k
  84. run 25k
  85. run 50k
  86. run 100k
  87. do park run
  88. do tunnel run (and ideally not be last out of the tunnel this time)
  89. cycle 5k (again, cumulative distances)
  90. cycle 10k
  91. cycle 25k
  92. cycle 50k
  93. cycle 100k
  94. cycle 250k
  95. go to dentist
  96. go to opticians (because that astigmatism isn’t making itself any better)
  97. restore bike
  98. go meat free once a week
  99. keep roots in order and have regular haircuts
  100. soak in a bath once a week
  101. (redacted small goal)
  102. (redacted BIG goal)
  103. (redacted small goal)
  104. (redacted small goal)
  105. go horse riding with Mike (he’s fairly confident that this is never going to happen, but I think it will be fun!)
  106. phone grandma at least once a month
  107. phone mum at least once a month
  108. relaunch blog (I guess I can cross this one off the list already – hurrah!!)
  109. (redacted BIG goal)
  110. (redacted BIG goal)
  111. (redacted BIG goal)
  112. get Ignite site up to date
  113. get Jelly site up to date
  114. create advertising pack for Ignite

Ok, you got me, there’s only 114 things on it at the moment. I’m not in denial about what year it is (although would any of us turn down the chance to redo the past couple of years?), it’s just really difficult to come up with 118 things without getting down to the level of ‘buy milk’. I have no doubt that 4 more things will occur to me over the next week or so, and I shall update the list accordingly when that happens.