How to Keep A Yearly Milestones List

As I mentioned in Three of My Favorite Lists for Personal Development, keeping a list of milestones is a terrific habit that can help you track things that motivate you.

Why I Keep a Milestone List

  • Learning about my personality type helped me to identify new interests and explore existing interests.
  • As I explored my interests, I identified different goals I wanted to accomplish.
  • I found that accomplishing something, even if it's a small thing, is one of the easiest ways to feel motivated.
  • Feeling motivated is one of the best ways to get your body to feel alive and happy again, through natural mechanisms like the release of dopamine.
  • You cannot feel alive and happy and also feel depressed at the same time.
  • In this way, I found that a milestone list helped me conquer depression and take more responsibility for a fun and enjoyable life.

How to Set Up a Milestone List

There are many ways to keep a list like this. I like to keep all of my milestones in a single document for easy review. There are headings for each year. Under each heading I write the month and date of the milestone, and describe it briefly. I keep these in reverse-chronological order. For example:

2017 Milestones

September 22: I walk all the time, but this time I walked 15 miles in one day and broke my record! I listened to a few audiobooks and split the walking into two sessions, morning and evening.

September 21: I biked to work for the first time. It was really fun and I am going to do it more often...I never realized how beautiful that bike trail is.

August 8: I memorized the words to a favorite new song that inspires me. I love singing it in the morning.

August 3: I swam in the ocean. OMG I was so scared at first! But there weren't any sharks! I also did a little bit of journaling at the beach.

July 7: I introduced myself to a new coworker and made good eye contact. That was harder than I thought but I'm glad I did it.

May 1: My 26th birthday. I tried a new way of celebrating my birthday this year and spent more "me" time in the morning reflecting on what I like and don't like about my life right now. Then I finished a sudoku puzzle and watched a favorite TV show. Those little things made the day feel more special.

April 28: I started this list of milestones. I hope it will help me feel more in control of life. I'm going to go back and fill in previous milestones as I remember them.

Ideas for Milestones

  • New achievements at work
  • Sports scores or video game scores
  • Fitness or health breakthroughs, like distance walked or starting a healthy living blog
  • Reading books
  • Starting or adding to a collection
  • Starting new habits
  • Reaching a certain number of days without e.g. smoking or sitting most of the day
  • Starting new hobbies
  • Certificates achieved
  • New memberships in clubs, local groups, or national societies
  • New friendships made

...and really, any interest works fine. Remember that these are not Olympic events and this is not a sport.

How to Review Your Milestones List

Right now, put at least three reminders on your yearly calendar to review your milestones list. Scheduled review will help you ramp up this new activity.

When you review your milestones, look for past milestones that spark your interest. Since you can build on past success, it's a great idea to continue pursuing those interests and reach new milestones.

Potential Traps

Milestones should be realistic. Don't wait until you become a millionaire, or get your Ph.D., or get your first full-time job. Just look through the things you've done recently and see what stands out. Then build on those successes for future milestones. This is the path of least resistance.

Milestones should be about you. Even if they track your contributions to the world, they need to be about you. Too many milestones like "my son started first grade" may indicate that you are not spending enough time caring for your own needs. You can keep a separate list for family milestones.

Milestones should be trusted. If it motivated you and made you feel better about yourself, trust your motivation. If an important accomlishment feels dumb, or corny, you can write that down too, but always write down the milestone!

Take Care of Your List

This is an important document, and someday it may be really important to you and your family, so start keeping a backup copy. You can use Google Drive, Dropbox, or other document storage services for digital documents.

If you keep your milestones list on paper or in a paper journal, it's a good idea to take a smart phone photo or make a photocopy every once in a while and put it in a separate place.

Good luck with your milestones list!

Topics: Type DevelopmentExercises