“20 THINGS TO DO BEFORE 20"
because people dig this kinda shit
I dig this kinda shit too. Until I read about the smart people who have done psychological behavior research about round numbers as goals, I quit digging this shit. My ego refuses to be manipulated.
According to the research done, we want a reference point so we conjectured that round numbers in performance scales. We strive to hit just above the reference point but not below the numbers.
Quoting from the study, they have learnt that professional baseball players modify their behaviour as the season is about to end, seeking to finish with a batting average just above rather than below .300.
In another study, they found that high school students are more likely to retake their SAT after getting a score just below than a round number. You know that feeling when you pass a test with 79%? Or when the passing grade is 50% and you score 49%?!
Also, I particularly like the scenario questions they probe.
Imagine that in an attempt to get back in shape, you decide to start running laps at a local track. After running for about 30 minutes and having done (18/19/20/28/29/30) laps, you start feeling quite tired and are thinking that you might have had enough.
How likely do you think it is that you would run one more lap?
Suppose that you got a temp job to make some extra money. The job is tedious as it consists of copying and pasting from Acrobat (.pdf) files into an Excel spreadsheet, and then manually fixing cells that did not copy properly. You get paid roughly $3.50 per table copied. You are considering whether to do one more table or whether to head home directly. You check out your computer screen and see that today you have so far made $(84.16/88.16/92.16/94.16/98.16/102.16).
How likely do you think it is that you would do another table before going home?
Now, there’s also many popular articles that titled themselves like 10 Must-know Tips for Entrepreneurs, 5 Ways to Succeed in Networking, 20 Steps to Achieve Mindfulness, 10 Things To Do to Lose Weight Fast and everything else. Oh, the ecstasy of productivity hack lists which we can’t stop reading!
I find myself confined by this trend when I write, which is awkward because it’s a bit like telling people what to do. Not awkward for you maybe, but it’s awkward for me because I don’t like to tell people what to do.
Perhaps writing out round numbers list as goals demonstrate a sense of control. Like it’s some secret recipe that we have figured out. Like we are so sure of its value. Yup, 20 things you must do, nope, not 19. Nope, not 17. But it’s 20. Yup, do all these 20.
Perhaps it’s also a way I channel my inner OCD. Well, I have never met any writers who can’t sleep just because they have 19 on their list and not 20. If there is any, perhaps Obsessive Round-number Disorder is the new OCD.
Perhaps also, the world has been kinda weird, confusing and complex. The humankind just wants simplicity. Something easy to absorb. Just take a look at all the great hits of YouTube channel content. High viewership videos are likely to be short content with people acting and saying silly light-hearted stuff.
Whatever it is, I don’t think this trend is going off anytime soon, so brace yourself because you will be told to reach yet another round-numbered goals!
Deep thinkers: You may read more about the research here.