Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lots of Stuff Gets Done if You Just Live Long Enough

I don't remember how I originally found my way to the site 43 Things.  But I was reminded of this fascinating resource recently in Timothy Pychyl's Don't Delay blog on Psychology Today.  (Readers should note also that Dr. Pychyl's new book, The Procrastinator's Digest: A Concise Guide to Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, is now available.  I plan to check it out as soon as I finish the several books I am presently in the middle of.)

Dr. Pychyl identifies 43 Things as an example of folksonomy, ". . .also known," according to Wikipedia, ". . . as collaborative taggingsocial classificationsocial indexing, and social tagging."  Interestingly, 
An empirical analysis of the complex dynamics of tagging systems. . . has shown that consensus around stable distributions and shared vocabularies does emerge, even in the absence of a central controlled vocabulary.
43 Things is a goal listing site--called "43 Things" because 

We think 43 is the right number of things for a busy person to try to do. Why not more? It’s too much. Why not less? You can do less, but it is still called 43 Things. 
The site maintains a list of the 100 most popular goals, resulting from lists submitted by its self-selecting participants.   Pychyl was interested, as was I, to learn that "stop procrastinating" was the second most popular goal, behind #1--"lose weight."

And, even though yesterday's post contained this pearl of wisdom reinforced by my triathlon training--"Avoid comparing your accomplishments with others"--I also couldn't resist measuring my life progress against the 100 "World's Most Popular Goals."  

To begin with, however, I have to quibble that there is some overlap between items on the list, as with, for example "Read more books" (#21) and "Read more" (#35).  Or "Get a tattoo" (#6), "Design my own tattoo" (#74), and "Create my own tattoo" (#93).  Or "Lose weight" (#1), "Lose 20 lbs." (#49), "Lose 10 lbs." (#54), and "Lose 30 lbs." (#63).  Or "Write a book" (#3) and "Write a novel" (#29).  You get the picture.  

A social scientist--one of my previous careers--would "code" the responses, and collapse the categories.  She would probably also group responses, distinguishing between  spiritual/personal development, material, physical/health, and so forth.  One possible grouping of goals would be those particularly relevant to procrastination/time management/organization--the subject matter of this blog.  These would include, of course "Stop procrastinating" (#2), as well as "Wake up when my alarm clock goes off" (#43), "Get organized" (#53), "Spend less time fooling around on the net and more time actually working" (#62), "Finish what I start" (#88), and "Stop wasting time" (#100).  

But it was especially smile-prompting, on this rainy morning, to see how many of the top 100 goals I have already accomplished.  Here's my list:

  1. lose weight 38720 people--did it; then gained it back; then lost it again
  2. stop procrastinating 28297 people--did it; still doing it
  3. write a book 27988 people--doing it
  4. Fall in love 25898 people--did it a few times
  5. be happy 23322 people--did it; need to do it again
  6. Get a tattoo 21521 people
  7. drink more water 19995 people--doing it
  8. get married 19991 people--did it--twice
  9. travel the world 19746 people--some of it
  10. go on a road trip with no predetermined destination 19684 people
  11. see the northern lights 18015 people
  12. Learn Spanish 16526 people--did it; need a refresher
  13. Save money 15493 people--did it; need to do more of it
  14. Kiss in the rain 15214 people--long ago; and the snow
  15. Take more pictures 14863 people--especially since I got a cell phone with a really good camera
  16. Make new friends 13486 people--constantly doing it
  17. Learn to play the guitar 13380 people--sort of
  18. Buy a House 13269 people--did it
  19. get a job 11678 people--did it lots
  20. get out of debt 11636 people--did it; got back in
  21. Read more books 11545 people--(I don't really think I should read more books)
  22. run a marathon 11492 people
  23. To live instead of exist 11484 people--by what standards?
  24. learn french 11412 people
  25. Skydive 10955 people
  26. exercise regularly 10938 people--doing it
  27. be more confident 10887 people--more or less
  28. eat healthier 10747 people--doing it (though Happy Hour interferes occasionally with this)
  29. write a novel 10244 people--doing it
  30. Learn Japanese 10207 people--learned a little
  31. get in shape 9835 people--doing it
  32. Quit Smoking 9107 people--did it
  33. Start my own business 9032 people--did it
  34. Learn to cook 8760 people--did it
  35. Read more 8287 people--(see #21)
  36. learn sign language 8126 people--learned a little
  37. have better posture 8109 people--did it
  38. travel 8054 people--did it
  39. Learn to play the piano 7936 people--did it
  40. Swim with dolphins 7819 people
  41. Learn to surf 7789 people
  42. identify 100 things that make me happy (besides money) 7783 people
  43. wake up when my alarm clock goes off 7661 people--doing it
  44. visit all 50 states 7548 people
  45. stop biting my nails 7402 people
  46. decide what the hell I would like to do with the rest of my life 7276 people--working on it
  47. Go skydiving 7220 people
  48. make a difference 7033 people
  49. Lose 20 pounds 6970 people--by having two babies
  50. learn to dance 6898 people--did it
  51. learn to drive 6630 people--did it
  52. graduate from college 6397 people--did it
  53. Get organized 6353 people
  54. Lose 10 pounds 6221 people--did it
  55. Be a better friend 6209 people--working on it
  56. Have a baby 6087 people--did it
  57. learn italian 6062 people
  58. Visit Japan 5784 people
  59. Become Financially Independent 5691 people--did it, more or less
  60. live passionately 5685 people--working on it
  61. create my own website 5674 people--did it
  62. Spend less time fooling around on the net and more time actually working 5624 people--working on it
  63. Lose 30 pounds 5398 people--did it, by having one of my babies
  64. exercise more 5391 people--doing it
  65. make more friends 5381 people--doing it
  66. get my driver's license 5359 people--did it
  67. be more social 5356 people--doing it
  68. Volunteer 5253 people--still doing it
  69. backpack through Europe 5139 people
  70. travel around the world 4891 people
  71. learn german 4849 people
  72. love myself 4809 people--working on it
  73. Worry less. 4769 people--working on it
  74. design my own tattoo 4738 people
  75. write a song 4691 people--did it
  76. learn to play guitar 4582 people--(see #17)
  77. learn how to drive stick-shift 4553 people--did it
  78. go on a cruise 4445 people
  79. meet new people 4322 people--still doing it
  80. go to college 4267 people--did it
  81. Practice Yoga 4260 people--still doing it
  82. Get more sleep 4251 people--working on it
  83. meditate daily 4169 people--doing it
  84. Stop caring what other people think of me 4158 people--working on it
  85. Never stop learning 4067 people--still doing it
  86. get a dog 4038 people--did it, three times
  87. sleep under the stars 4023 people--did it
  88. Finish what I start 4015 people--working on it
  89. Learn another language 3985 people--did it
  90. Send a message in a bottle 3953 people
  91. win the lottery 3931 people
  92. learn to sew 3872 people--did it
  93. create my own tattoo 3825 people
  94. figure out what i want to do with my life 3819 people--working on it
  95. design my own clothes 3818 people
  96. be a better person 3785 people--working on it
  97. grow my hair long 3776 people--did it
  98. watch Grey's Anatomy 3731 people--did it
  99. Go on a road trip 3730 people--did it, a few times
  100. stop wasting time 3724 people--still working on it

Apparently, I have been more productive, or at least more "popular," than I knew.  And just think. . . I could check off five more if I designed/created my own tattoo, after skydiving.  

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