Goal Setting for the 21st Century

Cross-posted on Cliotech

In the summer of 2006 (at a Discovery Educator Network regional institute) I created an account with 43 Things. Will Richardson had highlighted 43 Things during his keynote presentation. At the time, I thought it was a really interesting way to connect with people who were traveling the sames paths and working towards the same goals as I.

43 Things is a social networking-type application through which users post personal and professional goals that link them to other users who have similar goals, tap into the inspiration and support of the larger community, and share progress and information with the community. 43 Things offers users some guidance as they create reasonable and attainable goals.

Unfortunately, after creating my account and posting some goals, I really didn’t do much with the site. In fact, when I stumbled back upon 43 Things this weekend and logged in, I realized that I hadn’t done anything with it for over a year.

I believe that is about to change. The 43 Things interface has evolved over the past year and the new features make it a much more robust goal-setting application.

Here are some of the features that are new (to me, at least)

  • post entries to annotate progress on specific goals (all entries for all goals can be aggregated on the Entries screen)
  • schedule reminder/prompting e-mails to be delivered in the future (they are signed “your past self” – too cute)
  • once a goal has been achieved, users can decide to work towards it again
  • integration with major blogging engines to post entries and annotations directly to blogs (Blogger, WordPress, Type Pad, Live Journal, Movable Type)
  • report on goals that are similar in wording to your own so that your goal is linked other goals that are similar (e.g. if your goal is “to start a garden” you can link to those who want “to grow a vegetable garden” by clicking on Report A Very Similar Goal)
  • users can send supportive “cheers” to each other
  • since every profile has its own RSS feed, users can embed their goals as a widget on blogs and other web sites and can subscribe to other user’s feeds
  • in addition to the “Things” (actions), users can also add “Places” they want to visit and “People” they want to meet
  • set time frames with consequences to challenge yourself to achieve a goal (you can only set a challenge for one goal at a time)

I like that 43 Things posts community guidelines to help foster a positive and supportive network.

If you are learning about 43 Things for the first time, this video will be helpful.

43 Things was featured by a number of news outlets as a “bucket list” application. USA Today highlighted 43 Things as one such tool.

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star in The Bucket List, a buddy flick in which they leap from planes, drive race cars, eat caviar, motorcycle on the Great Wall of China, and trot by other wonders of the world before they “kick the bucket.”

The movie’s premise resonates. Millions of people have a dream “do” list: all they would do if they could in life.

These lists tend to feature all the highlights on the aspirational horizon — acts of fancy, courage and delight, full of punch and flavor, adrenalin and imagination.

“It’s not enough to react to life on a day-by-day basis. People need a road map. Life lists are one of the best ways to plumb the depths of the human psyche,” says Caroline Adams Miller, a Bethesda, Md.-based author, motivational speaker and life coach who encourages clients to create a 100-item roster.

Most accomplishments on people’s lists are more personal. On the website 43Things.com, where 1.2 million people have posted their personal lists in the past three years, according to The New York Times, the top goal is losing weight.

I think 43 Things would be an interesting 21st century twist on modeling goal-setting with students. Now, I just need to see if it is blocked in my district . . .

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  1. Jodi Rosenberg said:

    Thanks for the info. After I read you blog last night I went directly to 43 things and started my own list. I am a life coach so I work with my own and client goals everyday. 43 things is something I am going to encourage my clients to use. It is a great accountability tool and system for support. Both accountability and support are critical to the achievement of goals.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Jodi Rosenberg

  2. Hall Davidson said:

    Great post! I want you to know my avatar in Second Life created a list and achieved it more quickly than I did. Putting flying on his list was a slam dunk. The list idea is great! Is there a significance to 43? Is that Will’s age?

  3. John Ella said:

    Thank you, Jen, for your particularly wonderful roadmap! Despite my generation’s youth, (Gen X, born middle to late 1960’s) many people who are our age have died recently from “natural” causes and after I read your post here, I decided to check out your 43Things website and plan my life with a little more whimsy and add some personal types of “things to do before I, you know” 🙂 ) as well:) Thank you again!

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