New Year's Resolution Makeovers
Learn how to make your resolutions last longer than a passing thought.
- Be clear about what you want and your motivation. Blair, who calls
himself "The Goals Guy," proposes a "1-3-5 system" to set you
on the road to success; one "what," three "whys," and five
"hows." The "what" is your resolution. Then come up with three
reasons why you want it. "This will be very personal, such as increased
self-esteem, peace of mind, wanting to live long enough to enjoy grandchildren,
etc.," he says. The "hows" are the action steps you'll take to
achieve your goal.
- Make resolutions that are challenging, yet realistic. If you want to
grow intellectually by reading more, resolving to read one book a year isn't
something you'll get excited about and won't do much for your intellectual
prowess. And resolving to read one book a day will probably spell failure.
Knowing what will be challenging, yet realistic, might take some trial and
error. Experts are quick to say that resolutions should not be written in
stone, but are always subject to change.
- Write down your resolutions, and post them where you'll see them every
day. Writing your resolutions helps you clarify what you want. Posting them
reinforces your commitment. "Goals out of sight become goals out of
mind," says Blair.
- Break down long-term resolutions into smaller action steps. For
example, if your resolution is to be free of the smoking habit by March 1,
determine that you'll limit yourself to one pack of cigarettes, the first week,
one-half pack the second week, etc.
- Seek drama. "If you are trying to quit smoking, listen to a
person with throat cancer talk about smoking," says John Acquaviva PhD,
assistant professor of health and human performance at Roanoke College in
Salem, Va. "Also, listening to people who have lost a lot of weight often
motivates people to stick with it. They think, 'If they can do it, so can
- Celebrate milestones along the way. Experts say setting up a reward
system is an excellent strategy to help you stick to a long-term goal. "For
every week of diligently working out, buy yourself new workout clothes or treat
yourself to a movie," says Acquaviva.
Understanding What Will Motivate You
Seems there really are two kinds of people, at least when it
comes to what motivates them to stick to a plan or goal. "Research in
adherence motivation tells us that strategies have to fit individuals'
orientation and very different perceptions of what equals success," says
White, who is professor and dean at Lehigh University College of Education in
Bethlehem, Penn. "The field speaks of task and ego orientation, and nearly
45 studies show women to be more task oriented and men to be more ego
Task and ego orientation are each characterized by three key
motivators. The task-oriented person is motivated when:
- Success and achievement are a function of high levels of effort
- They see the task as challenging
- The task is collaborative