101 Goals in (Slightly More Than) 1001 Days

My engineering education imbued me with nothing if not an appreciation for concrete and quantifiable goals. I’ve done a tremendous number of new and ridiculous things over the past year in particular (toured the southwest, left the country for the first time x3, wrote for a national audience, won a business competition, created a (semi)functional medical device, graduated, formed a startup…etc) and after this blur of mostly structured activity, I’ve begun to fear complacency in my murky gap year after undergrad.

While “101 things in 1001 days” lists were a pinteresty craze for a bit, my goal is constructing this one is to provide myself with a more focused narrative for progress over the transition years from undergrad to graduate school and through the early stages of gainful employment. I’ve also extended the time period to three years just for kicks, and hidden just a few for specificity.

In order to qualify, an item must be: 1) concrete or quantifiable 2) not directly dependent on the decision of anyone else 3) reasonable, but require concrete time or effort and 4) make me a better or more interesting person in either a major or minor respect (none of this “withdraw from caffeine for a week” bullshit). Without further ado:

101 things to do within the next three years (by January 1st, 2016)

(As of 1/2/2016: updates & brief commentary following em-dash.)


1. Pinpoint people 5, 10, and 20 years ahead of me with career paths I would like to follow; reach out to them for advice
2. Apply to graduate school (Jan ’13)
3. Attract $10k in funding for a personal project or enterprise
4. Apply for something I feel certain I don’t have a shot at – Won some, lost some.
5. Take one of the technologies I’ve worked on through to market
6. Wake up at least 2 hours before work/class every day for 3 weeks – I will become a morning person yet
7. Present at a conference – (April ’13, Switchpoint)
8. Speak on a panel (Jan ’13 @ Rice, Mar ’15 @ Clintonfest, Aug ’15  gave a talk at George Mason University can you believe that)
9. Earn a master’s degree – heyyy!
10. Stay abroad for at least 8 weeks of fieldwork (Aug ’14)
11. Connect with 30 people who I don’t know, but whose work I find inspiring – this was a dumb item
13. Purchase a personal domain
14. Enter an essay contest (March ’13. This isn’t hard and I should do this more often).
15. Put together an interesting and organized home desk (Jan ’13)
16. Create personal business cards independent of any organization I’m affiliated with – I do have sweet business cards BUT did I mention that Batoul gave our Dunia Health stickers to POTUS? The #1 key to all project success: stickers.
18. Request a professional reference without freaking out about it Sept ’13. I don’t think I should actually count this; I still hate asking for references so much that I will sometimes just not apply for things instead of bugging someone to modify a letter.
19. Write 15 thorough (800 word+) blog posts or published articles on things I care about
20. Respond to all simple emails and messages (i.e. those not requiring an extensive task) within 2 hours of receiving them for at least 3 weeks straight – this was a joke right
21. Permanently block a few websites I tend to waste time on
22. Achieve gainful employment after graduate school – I’ve done a bunch of weird stuff so this is debatable but I do get paid so we’ll count it

New Tricks

23. Achieve C1 proficiency in French (in Lebanon?) – I went back to Jordan instead of doing research in Lebanon and I forget what this ranking means but I think I’m in solid 2s/3R/2W territory?
24. Begin learning Arabic (ideally through a structured class in grad school)
25. Read 2 complete novels in French – Only one. Terre Des Hommes, obvi.
26. Learn about cars (i.e. be able to diagnose and conduct minor repairs independently)
27. Volunteer with a political campaign
28. Complete 3 useful Arduino projects – 1.5/3. I only made one neat thing and one useful thing but I have a Raspberry Pi now though so we’ll mess with that someday.
29. Become decently-versed in the history of 3 different countries
30. Become decently versed in a few programming language – Nov ’13, I’m saying Stata counts
31. Ask 10 favors re: tasks people normally request help with, instead of trying to do them myself – this was a dumb item bc it isn’t terribly measurable and also I don’t like it
32. Become a DIY elec – making stuff is cool but I’m not sure it makes sense to get beyond hobbyist at this point
33. Read 5 nonfiction books in fields outside of my own academic interests

Health & Fitness

34. Participate in a novelty 5k (color run, tough mudder, etc) Warrior Dash, 3/16/13
35. Go for a skin cancer screening
36. Go to bed before midnight every day for one week – fairly certain I went three years straight without doing this
37. Fit 4 yoga practices per week, for a minimum of 8 weeks
38. Stick to a vegan diet for 2 weeks – this is dumb, I am not doing this
39. Work out 6 days a week for 4 months straight (2 cheat days) – Fall ’13 was intense.
40. Run a half marathon  – Bull City Oct ’15
41. Yoga poses: full camel, scorpion

Outdoors & Travel

47. Visit 3 new national parks – In the works for early early 2016 so I’m counting it now to make sure I do it
48. Hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail – “”
49. Climb a 14er – next time!
50. Get back to DC at least twice, for work or play
51. Hike the Annapurna circuit – turned into a poor grad student instead whomp. rolling this one over though.
52. Visit at least one of the many friends I have posted in fellowship locations around the world – see above
53. Go skiing for the first time – see above
54. Drive a segment of the Pacific Coast Highway – see #47 & #48
55. Visit 10 new cities (Dec ’13)

Responsible Adult Things & Pseudo-Housewifery

58. Plant a salsa garden (habaneros, ancho poblanos, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic) – See #60
59. Cook for a crowd of 10+ (Texas dinner party for 20! Sept ’13)
60. Keep a plant alive for 5 months – NOPE
61. Add $10 to a retirement savings account for each goal completed (thrilling, I know) – hahahahaha oh dear
62. Open an emergency savings account
63. Cook a holiday dinner
64. Design & send out paper invitations for an event I host
65. Learn to cook one meat-based dish
66. Back up my gmail/twitter/facebook accounts
67. Clean out and get rid of unnecessary things from my bedroom in my mother’s house – maybe I’ll do this by 2025
68. Organize my pantry & refrigerator (we’re talking a Container Store trip, here)
69. Get a credit card (yes, I’m one of those idiots who didn’t start building credit in undergrad)
70. Learn to drive a manual – After two very patient lessons I’m reluctant to do this on someone else’s car.
71. Stay put in an apartment for longer than 6 months
72. Legitimately wrap all Christmas presents
73. Get all the old files off of my crashed computer from early 2011…
74. Change a tire by myself – Tire blew out the one time I was driving w/o a spare, I’m a failure, I know
75. Invest in a classic handbag
76. Learn to cook three decent dishes from other cultures


77. Get my DNA sequenced
78. Learn to play an instrument
79. Own a dog – Counting the cats & saving the aussie shepherd pal of my dreams until I’m like, married to someone else who can take care of it sometimes
80. Teach said dog 5 different tricks and how to be polite in public cats can walk on leashes & do tricks
81. Make 10 new friends in Houston who I didn’t know existed as an undergrad (Mar ’13, too easy)
82. Go ziplining
83. Visit 15 new Houston bars or restaurants
84. Purchase a monogrammed wax seal – so worth it
85. Sponsor a particular event I coordinated at my undergraduate residential college #mbym (Contributed to a larger donation)
86. See 20 new classic films – K. Hepburn/A. Hepburn/L. Bacall filmography highly recommended.
87. Attend the rodeo before leaving Texas – I mean technically I did this as a child, so.
88. Learn a thing or two about pyrotechnics (complete one project) – Mark my words: someday I’ll have a glorious Georgetown mansion and when that day comes my doorways will be flanked with handcrafted statues of fire-breathing gryphons.
89. Graduate from my phone to a DLSR camera – rollover


90. Shake hands with a (former?) president; Joe Biden would also suffice REALLY did not expect to knock this one quite so out of the park
91. Finish T.R. Fehrenbach’s massive and intimidating book of Texas history – Guess who has a problem with buying & starting new books without completing those on the shelf. I somehow managed to read This Kind of War by Fehrenbach in the meantime, which is about the same size.
92. Order physical prints of 10 photographs I like and frame them for my apartment – at the time I think I wanted to get some specific pictures printed to canvas. Got paintings instead.
93. Send my mother flowers randomly
94. Hit 500 twitter followers August ’14 this goal was dumb
95. Buy something in tweed
96. Pick 50 college friends; make sure to contact each of them at least once every 6 months
97. Stay offline for 2 hours each night for 2 weeks straight 
98. Purchase real perfume (May ’15 Shalimar is everything)
100. Learn to pair flavors with truffle oil (Feb ’13)
101. Start answering phone calls from unknown numbers instead of letting them go to voicemail – LOL no

+7 redacted, all complete

Update 1/2/2016
Time: 100% complete
Status: 74% complete

101 Goals in (Slightly More Than) 1001 Days

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