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Coaching tool: List of 100 Dreams

I am always on the look out for new tools or resources for coaching, and I want to share this one I recently came across in a blog post by Laura Vanderkam: It’s called a ‘List of 100 Dreams’. If this is a new concept, then head over to Laura’s blog to read more about the original exercise from Career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine and how Laura has used this exercise as part of her work on productivity and time management.

What is it?

The ‘List of 100 Dreams’ is exactly that: a long list of things you wish to do, have or devote time to. In essence, it’s a very long bucket list. Laura explains it thus:

These could be travel goals, career goals, personal goals, or just general things that would be fun to do or possess. While plenty of people start a bucket list at some point, the upside of aiming for 100 Dreams is that it’s kind of…tough. Getting to 100 often requires coming back to the list several times. And while the first third or so tend to be big, longterm dreams (go to New Zealand!) by the last third it might be items like visiting a state park an hour away, writing a white paper on a topic that fascinates you, or owning a nice pair of pajamas. We’re talking fairly doable dreams.

Why try it?

What I liked about the idea of making a really long list, is that it would help me identify new things I might want to do, rather than simply revisit the familiar dreams or goals which have been on my mental list for a long time. I found it helpful to challenge myself to dream, rather than to simply plan or prioritise.

It feels fun to sit down and spend time thinking “what do I want to do?… What else?… and which other 78 things?”. I had not challenged myself before to try and come up with 100 things like this, and it was enjoyable and surprisingly difficult.

How to use it?

If starting with a blank page seems daunting (and to me it definitely did), then you could give yourself different headings under which to write your dreams: for example, you could use: work, people, self. Or, you could consider dreams for now, soon and later.

Writing this as a stream of consciousness exercise for which you try to keep writing without pause could work, too.

Or, add to the list over the period of a week.

The key for me was to give myself permission to add anything that came into my mind, no matter how big or small or unachievable or insignificant. If something silly came up, that went on the list, too.

A hybrid working adaptation: List of 100 Hybrid Working Dreams

This tool can be used in lots of different contexts: you can use it for your life as a whole or focus on your career, and you could also use it to set out a vision for your organisation or team.

It’s not often that we find time to sit down and focus solely on what possibilities there are when it comes to how we work, rather than what we achieve, and this tool can help make that space.

Some prompts you could focus on are:

  • what are your dreams for your workspace?
  • what do you wish for in terms of working with others?
  • What would you like your daily routine to be like?
  • What changes, big or small, would you like to make in your team?
  • How would you like your organisation to change?
  • What do you wish to have in place to make work better?

If you want to try out this tool, choose your favourite way to write or make notes, whatever you find easiest, and start writing down whatever comes into your mind. Don’t self-edit. Don’t judge.

Give yourself space to think of 100 things (and, as Laura suggested, if that’s easy, then simply up the number and go for 200, 500 or even 1000 dreams to write down).