New Year’s Resolutions

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Words | Sara Zarriello

It’s time to make some changes… that were supposed to be made last year, and the year before. We can do it, right? 

Well well well, another year has come, and another bunch of resolutions have been dreamt up and we all know that in a week or so we’re going to be letting ourselves down. It’s just the way making New Year’s resolutions goes. We’ve all been there, thought we were going to lose that extra weight, instead we gained a little more. Tried to read a book a month, read 2 books per year. I swear I was going to take more risks last year, but I think it might be safer to stay home. Does this sound like you? And does this article sound like an infomercial? Well congratulations you’ve won yourself a guide to actually maybe achieving some goals this year. 

Research has time and again shown us that New Year’s resolutions are hardly ever achieved by most people but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a threshold of 20% success rate and 80% failure rate. Now, if you are able to succeed, those numbers switch around meaning the more successes you have the higher success rate. The way to achieving our goals is in the science of behavioural economics. By studying the cognitive, social, psychological, emotional and cultural factors that attribute to an individual’s economic decisions, we can figure out how to stay on top of our goal checking! 

This is important: research suggests that goals with longer term pay off will mean there is less chance of success. So the key here is to create goals that include small immediate pay offs on the ride to your main goal. 

The first step is to understand that by simply creating goals, does not mean that they will happen with pure willpower. It also depends on the environment surrounding us. By creating a space which supports changes, you are already boosting your chances of keeping your goals intact. That means firstly changing your own behaviours. For example, if you’ve decided to attempt a ten-kilometre run in nine months, you don’t just start running. You should instead put your gym clothes on straight away in the morning and make yourself breakfast the night before, so that everything is in order for that run to go ahead in the morning. Taking smaller steps lead to bigger changes. 

Next you need to tell other people about your goals. No don’t brag about how you’re going to win the bloody race before you’ve even started, let good people around you know that you are trying to achieve something. By doing so your choices will be monitored by closely and if your people notice that your doing something which will harm your chances of reaching your goal, they’ll tell you. By having more people aware of your actions, you yourself will become equipped with a personal team of cheerleaders who will always have your back. This could also mean posting about your goals on social media. More eyes and ears watching you creates more pressure to succeed, if you’re into that type of thing. Calling all Joe’s!

And lastly, have some consequences for your behaviours. If you’ve not gone for that morning run, no brunch with the girls today. Not meal prepped this week, no going out for meals for a month. Make decisions and stick to them otherwise you know that there will be punishment for not committing. It’s super important to note that, just because you’ve slipped up or fallen off the success driven wagon, doesn’t mean that your goal has been absolutely and utterly crushed under the weight of your failure! Don’t be so dramatic. There is always the next hour to prove yourself, or the next day or the next week. Every time you think you’ve gone and lost your motivation remember; motivation isn’t what’s driving your decisions. It’s the chance of success that is. So get back on that rickety wagon and drive on into your successful sunset! You’ve got this.

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