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New Year's Resolution Makeovers

Learn how to make your resolutions last longer than a passing thought.

Success Strategies continued...

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 oriented."

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

The ego-oriented person is motivated when:

  • They have the opportunity to demonstrate high levels of ability without high levels of effort
  • There's an opportunity to demonstrate superior success
  • There's an opportunity to win

"If a task-oriented person resolves to stop smoking, they'll join a support group and put effort into strategizing, such as learning which night clubs are nonsmoking," says White. "But they won't just practice avoidance, because that wouldn't be challenging. They'll say, 'When everyone else has a cigarette, I'll go 20 minutes without one, and if I still want a cigarette, I'll have just one.'

"The ego oriented person will use the patch or another aid and place a bet with two or three buddies they think they can easily beat, and they'll choose those buddies very carefully. They'll have a high value placed on the bet."

Making the Most of Your Resolution Makeover

Now that you understand the power of a resolution makeover, you can see why most New Year resolutions never last until Valentine's Day. Resolutions require hard work and commitment. "Making a resolution needs to be as highly considered as anything else you do to bring about change," says White. "You have to want to change the behavior."

Blair identifies four characteristics of people who stick to their resolutions:

  • They believe in their ability to change.
  • They do not indulge in self-blame or excuse making.
  • They avoid wishful thinking and concentrate on results.
  • They understand their motivators and reasons why the resolution is important.
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