I’ve noticed recently that there has been a lot of discussion about New Year’s resolutions. It’s that time of year, of course, but a new twist that I’ve seen is that many people are giving up on the idea of resolutions and shifting the focus to goal setting. I’d tend to agree with them. Resolutions are absolute, and going in this direction immediately sets one up for failure. Goals, on the other had, can be adjusted as the circumstances change. They can also be open ended.

In considering the goals I wanted to set for myself, I did a little research. 43things is a popular website where people list and share their goals with each other and the world. Based on the things people had entered as of this posting, these are the top ten goals of all time at the site:

  1. lose weight 33286 people
  2. stop procrastinating 24797 people
  3. write a book 23013 people
  4. Fall in love 22576 people
  5. be happy 19980 people
  6. Get a tattoo 18360 people
  7. drink more water 17204 people
  8. go on a road trip with no predetermined destination 17071 people
  9. get married 16598 people
  10. travel the world 16577 people

I’m struck by two things as I look at this list. First, the goals are vague and very broad. Second, the list is surprisingly eclectic. I could probably spend a lot of time trying to analyze the fact that “Be happy” is right next to “Get a tattoo,” but I think I’ll leave that to the sociologists.

The research I did wasn’t much help to me. So I just spent some time brainstorming about the things that mattered most to me, the things that I’m passionate about, and that I felt God was guiding me to do, and came up with the first version of my goals for 2009. These are specific, measurable, and all are intended to be completed by the end of the year:

  • Read the entire Bible
  • Read 25 other books
  • Publish an article
  • Write 250 blog posts
  • Write a new Interactive Fiction game
  • Lose 30 pounds
  • Take a week long family vacation
  • Have a 3 day retreat with my wife

I read an article by Gene Donohue in which he wrote, “unless someone is critical to helping you achieve your goal(s), do not freely share your goals with others.” I have to disagree. I think that unless you are extremely self-disciplined (which I am not), sharing your goals is the only way to have any chance of following through on all of them. By daring to share my goals publicly, I’m opening myself to the possibility that anyone who reads this blog may ask me next week, next month, or later this year how I’m doing on one of them. And I’d better be prepared to answer. Just that knowledge will be motivation for me to not put this list aside and forget about it after I’ve written it. That’s the power of social networking.

But don’t be surprised if you see version 1.1, 2.0, etc. as the year goes along, either!