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43Things: Beyond the “To-Do List”

43thumbsProcrastination: Denial, Forgetfulness, and Lying to Yourself

Back in 2005, I thought maybe it was time to get serious about the New Year’s Resolutions. Until then, my only resolution was an unbroken resolve never to make another stupid New Year’s Resolution I had no intention of keeping. But in reality, my mental “to-do list” was growing longer and longer by the day. And by virtue of it being “all up in my head,” it was easy enough to forget at my convenience. Part of procrastination is denial. Much as I value honesty in my dealings with others, I am appallingly good at lying to myself. Not that I really believe the lies, but I’m usually willing to suspend disbelief when it suits my purposes.

Beyond the “To-Do List”

I’ve written about the importance of committing goals to writing, and how that may form new connections in the brain to help cement our commitment to achieving what we dream and say we want to do. A number of years ago, I stumbled across a site that combines a written “to-do list” with the notion of a lifelong bucket list, a community of like-minded goal setters, and maybe just a touch of schadenfreude. It’s called 43Things. Why 43? They thought it was a good aspirational number. I guess fewer than that didn’t seem challenging enough, 42 (the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything) is probably trademarked by Douglas Adams’ estate, and more than 43 just overwhelms most people – which would put us all back at procrastination central.

43things.com Main Screen

One could argue that working together towards individual and common goals is inspirational. I say it helps to keep us honest; if we can lie to ourselves, 43Things makes it devilishly hard to lie to others. When you openly declare your intentions to the world, not only do you take an important step in committing to them, but now you’ve got written evidence and witnesses. And those witnesses start reading all about your goals and aspirations – outlandish as some of them may seem – and start giving you kudos and asking questions and sharing tips on how they did it. Pretty soon, it would just be embarrassing to admit that you gave up. Or that you didn’t really mean it, after all.

Not that anyone gives you a hard time if you give up. But to delete a goal, it does ask if you want to “give up.” And it encourages you to write a little confessional about why you gave up. That’s not nearly as much fun as writing a triumphant boast that says “I did it!” and “Here’s how:” It can be a little motivating to read others’ reasons for giving up, though. If schadenfreude and a sense of superiority motivate you, you can give yourself an affirmational little pep talk as you snicker over tales of woe and defeat. Just remember Karma – what goes around, comes around. Make sure that if you snicker, you doggedly achieve all you’ve set out to achieve – or you come back to 43Things, admit defeat, and give others the same pleasure of reading all your excuses if you fail to achieve all your stated goals.

Better yet, live up to your lofty ambitions, then come back and write “How I did it” tips – share your success and mentor others who are climbing the mountain behind you.

If you want to phrase your goals as “New Year’s Resolutions,” you can do that – and the one advantage to doing it is that you can also ask for reminders:

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You can link your 43Things to Facebook or your own blog or website, too. Go give it a try and let me know what you think!

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About Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri lives in Texas and claims to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry and Erma Bombeck. She has known since fifth grade that she wanted to be a professional writer. Holly is a technical communicator whose imagination is allowed free rein in her short stories, children's books, and poetry. You can visit her personal blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective," at http://jahangiri.us/new.

About Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri lives in Texas and claims to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry and Erma Bombeck. She has known since fifth grade that she wanted to be a professional writer. Holly is a technical communicator whose imagination is allowed free rein in her short stories, children's books, and poetry. You can visit her personal blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective," at http://jahangiri.us/new.

Comments

  1. Positive thought are key to keeping us sane.but this to-do list is a wonderful idea
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  2. I didn’t know about 43things but, sounds really interesting. It is true that when you have to share a goal with at least another person, you have at least 50% more chance to keep it. Many life coaches encourage just to do that, as a matter of fact. Thank for sharing this with us, Holly :)
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  3. QUOTE: “…I am appallingly good at lying to myself.”

    Nice link in that post. I can’t remember the last time I shared a goal with my wife because of all the daily activity that gets in the way. Jane has kept me honest and faithful for 35 years. Sharing a goal beyond dinner or a parent-teacher conference might be important.

    I remember some lofty goals from the 70′s…

    Thanks:)

    • Oh, the 70s were just full of lofty goals, weren’t they? But hey, we did manage to put a dent in highway litter and cleaned up Love Canal eventually. Remember the Crying Indian? http://youtu.be/j7OHG7tHrNM

      35 years… you and Jane set such a good example for us youngsters. (27 years, here.)

      • The 70′s were goofy and I’m glad I came of age during that time; there were so many contrasts and divisions among people that finally worked out.

        I was a Democrat back then. I’m pretty sure any couple that makes it beyond eight years knows each other’s goals and aspirations. Anyone that makes it to thirty five years and no longer discusses dreams, or turns those unspoken hopes into goals might be complacent and comfy.

        What happens when you accomplish your fav-goals from the 70′s?

        Is coasting allowed?

  4. I didn’t know 43Things was integrated now – that’s actually really helpful! Maybe now I’ll actually find it in me to start using the site…
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  5. Who has time for 43Things or for organizing one’s blog. I have so many “must dos” I don’t have to worry about doing anything else.

    You must have too much time on your hands.
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  6. Dunno about 43Things, but one of the reasons I started my blog was to articulate my ambitions and desires, which had got kind of snowed under … I don’t need another social media time waster when I should be writing ;-), but it is nice to talk about these things.
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    • Hah! That’s what they all say…

      Social media time-wasters are such insidious FUN – particularly when you’re inclined to procrastinate, in the first place.

      Actually, I resisted 43Things for a while, after I was first told about it. But I used it to solidify and organize my “New Year’s Resolutions” back in 2005/2006, and you may recall that’s the year I lost 43 lbs, quit smoking, and pretty much achieved everything on my list without (I thought at the time) consciously trying. I claim the time I “wasted” on 43Things was actually time spent thinking, daydreaming, planning, and solidifying in my mind the steps it would take to achieve all those objectives (and no, before you ask, I never had 43 things on my list – it’s too many for me, all at once, but I did have about 23, and I did achieve most of them).
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Play to Your Strengths: A Healthy Imagination Needs Play TimeMy Profile

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