Happy New Year

Around this time each year, like many people, I make a list of the things I want to accomplish and/or just plain change about myself. Feel free to look at my first-of-the-year posts going back ten full years now. Seriously, I’ve been doing this over ten years now. I can’t explain that.

The good thing about New Year’s Resolutions is that you don’t have to wait until January First to make them. If you miss out at the start of the Gregorian calendar, you still have many other opportunities throughout the year. The Chinese New Year is February 16 this year. There are at least half a dozen new years that begin in March, generally coinciding with the start of spring. Even more in April. And if you miss any of them, you’ll find many more new year celebrations scattered between September and December.

But why wait for a holiday? A “year” can be any arbitrary date. Think of all the birthdays and anniversaries. When you’re ready to make a list of things to accomplish and/or just plain change about yourself, pick a day. Any day.

Me, I’m keeping it traditional this year and went with January First. So here, without further rambling, is my list of goals for 2018:

  • I’m not telling you my goals
  • So there’s no need to try reading this
  • Even though you can just highlight the text to see it
  • Unless you’re reading this off-site
  • And then you’re probably wondering what’s going on
  • Because you’re not seeing black text on a black background

As you can see, I’m not sharing my goals and here’s my reasoning. Let’s take a look back through this blog for references to me just-released memoir on writing and cancer.

  • February 5, 2016: The plan, in September 2016, this blogger publishes his “cancer book.” Yep, for real.
  • July 29, 2016: At one point, I’d hoped to have this published in September. Well, that’s only a little more than a month away now, so I don’t think that’ll happen. October maybe? November? We’ll see.
  • August 5, 2016: Last week I posted an excerpt from my still-yet-unnamed and hopefully-soon-to-be-completed “cancer” book.
  • October 28, 2016: The [September] release timing didn’t feel right, and I wanted to hold it until my five-year anniversary, next April.
  • January 6, 2017: It’s about 95% complete. Look for it in . . . April?
  • March 3, 2017: If all goes well, the book can be published . . . next month some time.

That’s probably enough to illustrate my point. Setting goals and announcing them and making all of these “promises” is rather pointless. It doesn’t make me any more motivated and it just strings everyone else along.

In fact, there’s evidence it may even make me less motivated. Back in 2010, Derek Sivers gave a TED talk which can be summed up in a single quote:

Telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen.

In short, the act of simply telling someone a goal gives your brain the same sense of accomplishment as achieving the goal. With the mental checkbox now checked, the goal loses importance. He “presents research stretching as far back as the 1920s” as evidence.

Hey, I’m all about the science. And if science is telling me to keep my New Year’s Resolutions to myself, then by golly, that’s just what I’m going to do. So tune in next year when I’ll tell you all about how I succeeded throughout 2018 in losing weight, recording some music, writing a novel, fixing up the new house, and . . . aw, crap. Scratch all that.

2 Comments for “Happy New Year”

says:

I did not know that (about the telling of the goal).

I like it, though. (I mean, I tell my journal but that’s just like telling Future Me about it, the way I see it)

Also, you may not be aware but there is an ABSURD amount of whitespace between your post and your comment (potentially an author widget taking up unused space?) and I have at least twice now wondered if you disabled comments before I thought to keep scrolling.

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