Back in 2005, I thought maybe it was time to get serious about the New Yearâ€™s Resolutions. Until then, my only resolution was an unbroken resolve never to make another stupid New Yearâ€™s Resolution I had no intention of keeping. But in reality, my mental â€śto-do listâ€ť was growing longer and longer by the day. And by virtue of it being â€śall up in my head,â€ť 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 Iâ€™m usually willing to suspend disbelief when it suits my purposes.
Beyond the â€śTo-Do Listâ€ť
Iâ€™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 â€śto-do listâ€ť with the notion of a lifelong bucket list, a community of like-minded goal setters, and maybe just a touch of schadenfreude. Itâ€™s called 43Things. Why 43? They thought it was a good aspirational number. I guess fewer than that didnâ€™t seem challenging enough, 42 (the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything) is probably trademarked by Douglas Adamsâ€™ estate, and more than 43 just overwhelms most people â€“ which would put us all back at procrastination central.
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 youâ€™ve got written evidence and witnesses. And those witnesses start reading all about your goals and aspirations â€“ outlandish as some of them may seem â€“ 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 didnâ€™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 â€śgive up.â€ť And it encourages you to write a little confessional about why you gave up. Thatâ€™s not nearly as much fun as writing a triumphant boast that says â€śI did it!â€ť and â€śHereâ€™s how:â€ť It can be a little motivating to read othersâ€™ 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 â€“ what goes around, comes around. Make sure that if you snicker, you doggedly achieve all youâ€™ve set out to achieve â€“ 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 â€śHow I did itâ€ť tips â€“ share your success and mentor others who are climbing the mountain behind you.
If you want to phrase your goals as â€śNew Yearâ€™s Resolutions,â€ť you can do that â€“ and the one advantage to doing it is that you can also ask for reminders:
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!