A writer I know online named Christine Lee Zilka–I can’t remember how we became aware of one another, though we do have friends in common–has a really smart habit of not making New Year’s Resolutions: instead, she makes New Year’s To-Do Lists. She explains:
I make yearly “to do” lists. In fact, I prefer making yearly “to do” lists to resolutions, because “to do” lists are actionable and they aren’t dependent on other people’s actions (i.e., things like “win a fellowship”) or overwhelming (like “finish writing novel” or “lose ten pounds”).
This strikes me as eminently reasonable, and originally I felt it was something I should do, too. After all, 2013 is going to be a year of big changes for me. I’m getting married, for one, and leaving Korea, for another. And that’s all before April! I even wrote up a long list of to-dos for the year, goals I had both personal and professional.
But then I deleted them. I decided that I’m going to keep my goals to myself.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years, it’s that talking about doing something doesn’t make it any likelier for me to do it… and indeed, I had a sense lately that talking about doing certain things has helped me prolong not doing them. Case in point: I’ve been planning on leaving Korea for about four years now, and I’ve been talking about it for much longer. When did it become a reality?
It’s when I stopped talking about it and did it. And, sadly, I didn’t feel half as satisfied as I had hoped… probably because I’d been borrowing satisfaction from every time I talked about doing it, and didn’t.
And whaddaya know, someone named Derek Sivers talked about this, too, over on TED.com:
So while I have a bunch of specific goals for 2013 that I’ve thought out over the last few weeks, I’d rather keep them to myself until I’ve achieved them… I’ll let you know!