Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and more—Alexandra Samuel shares how online technology can turn from a distraction into a tool that helps you stay focused on your goals and inspired about your life.
The Internet has a terrible way of distracting a girl: You sit down to search job postings, and you end up in a chat room with some guy in Thailand who wants to know how you refinished your floors.

When I posted my long-term goals online in December 2004, it was a way of procrastinating the immediate goal of getting a job:

  • Be invited to a gay wedding.
  • Hire our first fabulous employee.
  • Meet Stephen Sondheim.
  • Never use the word "synergy."
It doesn't have to be that way. Instead of yielding to the siren song of online distraction, you can use your computer to connect to your goals—and to find the inspiration to achieve them.

That's exactly the point of 43 Things, the website I used to record my goals. It asks a simple question, "What do you want to do with your life?" and gives you a quick way to record up to 43 answers. Five years after recording my initial goals, I've crossed almost two dozen off my list...including some big ones, like "start a company that lasts longer than two years," "create a writing group" and "potty-train my son."

I'd love to tell you that 43 Things is the tooth fairy of the Internet: Stick your to-do under a virtual pillow and wake up to a giant check mark. But no, I had to do the hard work of finding clients, fellow writers and rubber bedsheets. What 43 Things supplied was the focus, advice and support to help me do it.

We tend to think of setting goals and seeking inspiration as highly personal. But achieving our goals is not always a solitary pursuit: The encouragement and resources of a larger community can help us do something we couldn't do alone.

How to plug into inspiration on the Web


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