There’s this thing you want to do. Several things, perhaps. You want to write a book. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Exercise more. Save up to travel and see the world. It could be anything, really. You really want it, there’s no question about it. But somehow, you don’t do it. Perhaps you make plans to do it (you’ll start tomorrow, or on Monday, or the next month, or…). Perhaps you even do some research, see where you could exercise, what you need for it, what interests you and what not (say, you’re already perfectly aware that you’re in no mood for aerobic, but pilates sounds like something you’re curious to try). Maybe you even start, do a few push-ups and walk a bit longer than usual, or even truly exercise for a day or a week.
And then you stop. You might try again at some later point, and you stop again. You just don’t stick to it.
A common advice is to state in public what you intend to do. Say, on a blog. And to report to your readers how you’re doing with it. Are you sticking to your decision? Do you do it on regular basis? Did you make a lapse? Did you get past that point? And so on, and so forth. And all those nice people encourage you, and you feel like a fool if you don’t do what you told them you’d do. Even if there’s no one actually reading your blog, you said in a public place you’d do it, and it would be embarrassing, if only to yourself, not to do it. So you just do it and change your life for the better. And write a book about it and become rich and famous. Or something.
Several years ago, I started a blog with the purpose of writing more. I didn’t write more. And I abandoned that blog, too. Having it there didn’t encourage me to write more, nor did it embarrass me enough to do it (then again, embarrassment never motivated me anyway). It was just annoying.
When I think of that advice, I try and imagine myself listening to people telling me I should do this or that. Oh, dear. I growl at folks who do that. Or become really unpleasant. Or get away as soon as I can and avoid them in the future. Hey, it’s my life, my body, my whatever, leave me alone and mind your own business!
Not everyone is like me, and for some people, that particular advice really works. But it’s not for me. I might mention that I’m going to do this or that, or I might say how I managed to do something, but that would be sharing what worked for me, in hope that it might work for someone else, too; or I could brag about it. Nothing wrong with bragging, right? However, I have no wish to police my own life (or anyone’s life, for that matter), nor to report on the progress on regular basis.
So. There really are things I should do. I should definitely write more — say, the few novels I have in mind. I should also exercise, because it’s necessary if I’m going to sit at the computer most of the day (which is, in turn, necessary for all the writing and translating). It would do me good to lose a few pounds, too. More than just a few. And so on. But publicly saying I should do it won’t make me do it any faster, or at all. I’ll have to use some other way.
How about you? Does publicly stating your intentions helps you stick to them?