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  • Writer's pictureNicholas Nack

New Years Resolutions - How to make them last

Around this time of year many people consider what they would like to see change in their lives and then make some kind of commitment to that in the new year. Some may stick to their resolutions and see that change through, however many people have a hard time sticking to their plans. Have you ever thought about why this is or why some people are successful while others are not? Do you have a history of wanting to see change and struggling to make that a reality?

Humans are motivated by many things, some examples are food, water, sex, social acceptance, approval, achievement, and avoiding risks or consequences. Motivation is often put into one of two categories; internal or external. Internal motivation is a drive or desire that originates within a person, while external motivation comes from the environment such as money or trophies or some reward that is outside of the person. There are other classifications of motivation such as drive motivation, which is described as originating from the body such as hunger or thirst. It is theorized that these drives lead to psychological motivations, and that humans have a desire to keep homeostasis which motivates behavior. Goals or resolutions are a way that humans can internally motivate themselves to do something. For goals to translate into behavior, they need to be congruent with the self, challenging, and specific. Emotions and personality traits can make people more or less motivated to action as well. An example is that people who score high in extroversion are more sensitive to rewards. Another is that individuals who score high in conscientiousness are more likely to partake in behaviors that are health-enhancing (Souders, 2019).

All of that considered, you may be asking yourself how all of this information is helpful to you as a reader. It is important to understand what motivates you in order to figure out how to sustain that motivation and how your traits and dispositions make it easier or more difficult to follow through with change. Goal-setting, self-monitoring, action planning, and implementation intentions work for people who have some level of motivation to change. Some people may like the idea of change, but have no real motivation to do so. This can come from people not feeling that they are capable of change, they may not believe that the outcome will be worth the sacrifice, one may perceive the change as being too difficult, or they may not feel that the behavior is a value worth pursuing (Hardcastle et al., 2015). Is there something you would like to see change and want more specific instruction on how to follow through with it? One way to set goals that are attainable is by making what are called SMART goals. Do you think you can follow this format and make a goal for yourself?

Specific: Example - Exercise 30 minutes per day

Measurable: Example - Lose 3 pounds a month

Attainable: Trying to lose 50 pounds in a month is not attainable and could harm you as well.

Realistic: Stay away from extremes and set goals that you think you could realistically achieve.

Timely: Have a timeframe or deadline for your goals ("How to set achievable goals (That align with your values)," 2022).


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