What are the Most Common Personal Projects?

alex atkins bookshelf culture“The field of personality psychology is exceptionally buoyant and has expanded into a broad-based personality science studying a considerable range of factors,” writes psychologist Brian Little, an expert of personality and motivational psychology  (Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, 2014), “from neurons to narratives, and drawing contributions from fields as disparate as biochemistry, economics, and literary biography.”

Rather than looking at personality in a simplistic way, considering only nature and nurture, Little points to a more accurate tripartite model of personality. In that model, personality is composed of a person’s biogenic nature, those behaviors that are  genetically based and are influenced by the brain’s processes and structure (and accounts for about 50% of an individual’s personality); sociogenic nature, those behaviors that are learned from socialization and the learning of cultural codes, norms, and expectations (25%); and idiogenic motives, the plans, hopes, commitments and personal projects that individuals pursue in the course of daily life (25%).

Little believes that in order to find happiness, one must pursue personal projects that are consistent with one’s genetic nature. He points to one of his studies that found that most people work on 15 personal projects at one time. Interestingly, the list that came out of his study, mirrors the list of the website 43things.com (online from 2005 to 2015), an online goal-setting community, that asked visitors to post their top personal goals or hopes in order to inspire others. As an homage to the work of 43.com, a new website, dayzeroproject.com, published the list of the world’s most popular goals from 43 Things. Here is the top 25 out of 100 personal projects from that list:

1. Blog
2. Lose weight
3. Write a book
4. Stop procrastinating
5. Fall in love
6. Be happy
7. Daily entries
8. Get a tattoo
9. Go on a road trip with no predetermined destination
10. Get married
11. Travel the world
12. Drink more water
13. See the Northern Lights
14. Learn Spanish
15. Save money
16. Take more pictures
17. Kiss in the rain
18. Buy a house
19. Make new friends
20. Learn to play the guitar
21. Run a marathon
22. Learn French
23. Get a job
24. Get out of debt
25. Read more books

For further reading: Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being by Brian Little, 2014