It’s the very end of the year. Time to make resolutions for next year, or (sigh) to look at how we did with our goals for this year. At Enrepreneur on December 27, 2018 I saw an article by internet marketer Ayodeji Onibalusi titled 19 Reasons you did not achieve any of your goals this year. His depressing reasons are that:
1] You lack consistency.
2] You fail to write out your plans.
3] You court complacency.
4] You don’t think big enough.
5] You make too much noise about your goals.
6] You’re constantly in the wrong company.
7] You hate being corrected.
8] You value praises over constructive criticism.
9] You micro-manage everything.
10] You give others too much of yourself.
11] You wait too long to make corrections.
12] People’s opinions are important to you.
13] Your parents still advise you.
14] You’ve always done things the same way.
15] You’re a jack of all trades.
16] You don’t take care of your body.
17] You do not have a team.
18] You make comparisons.
19] You fail to act.
His marketing education must have omitted the topic of choosing list lengths for articles. Why did he stop his list at 19 items (fail to act) rather than going on to 20? Twenty is a much more interesting and popular number. We can easily see this by putting the phrase “N reasons” into the Ngram Viewer at Google Books, as is shown above. (Click on it for a larger, clearer view). When we focus on the numbers for the year 2000, we see that 20 items would be 2.5 times as popular as 19. 10 would be 8.3 times as popular, and even 15 would be 1.7 times as popular as 19.
The differences are even more striking for the phrase “Top M,” as shown above. But this is nothing new. Back on December 12, 2009 I had blogged about how Almost nobody wants to see your Top 15 list: please use either a Top 10 or a Top 20 list. My results from Google searches also are shown, and a Top 20 list was 30 times as popular as a Top 19 list.