Nothing seems more like an exercise in futility than New Year’s resolutions. Every year we promise to lose weight, eat better, BE better….and we barely make it out of the first two weeks of the year still adhering to our resolution. Rarely are we still working our resolutions come July, let alone in December. Is this the only fate that awaits us?
Looking to what we know about our brains as a guide, there are a few ways to improve the odds of success. First, we can make our resolutions more public – nothing motivates people like the potential for public humiliation. Whatever you resolve, broadcast it widely. This improves commitment, at the moments when our morale flags.
Secondly, many resolutions fail because they are too abstract – take the resolution to ‘lose weight’. We have to ask – how much? By when? And how will we accomplish this – eating less, working out more, rigging our scale? Better resolutions are ones that offer more behavioral specifics – exactly what we will do, when will we do it, and how we will measure it. Without detailed specificity, we will struggle to succeed.
We should also have many mid-point goals so we can take on our tasks in bite-sized pieces. It also allows us to avoid kicking the problem down the road, without making progress. Maybe a month-by-month goal, so we can see the progress we are making, and that encourages us to greater commitment.
And never rule out the inspiration offered by audacious goals, ones that seem too big to be realistic. Those goals can engage our brains in ways that more mundane goals cannot, so think about how to create those blue sky options.
If your resolution in 2018 is to become a better communicator, please give us a call, we can definitely help you accomplish that.
We wish you a successful and happy 2018!