Friday, December 31, 2010

Motivation and Resolutions

Today, blogging buddy Charmaine Clancy provided a wonderful reason to NOT make New Years resolutions in the form of this TED talk:

The tl;dr version (er, or should that be that too-long-didn't-listen version?) is:
Psychologists have found that if you tell someone about a goal, you're LESS likely to do the work necessary to achieve it because you've already derived some satisfaction just from the act of sharing your dream.
The speaker, Derek Sivers, does note you can share your goals as long as you do so in a way that doesn't allow you any satisfaction from the other person's attention.

For example, saying, "I need to lose weight, so I'm going to have to go to the gym three times a week this year. Kick my butt if I don't, okay?" is acceptable because you're going to hear your friend say, "You bet," and not "Oh, wow; good for you!"--which would give you a pleased feeling that tricks your brain into believing you've already made progress.

This means McKoala's Public Humiliation Writing Challenges are a great way to motivate yourself. No waxing eloquent over your big dreams is allowed there--you must produce results or you risk a Koala smack-down!

Also of relevance to this issue something I read recently on Discover Magazine's website (although I can't find the link to the specific article anymore, sorry;) which reported the findings of psychiatrists who discovered that:
You can increase your likelihood to follow through with a resolution if you ponder whether you will do it, rather than telling yourself you will do it.

It turns out we all have a tendency to resist orders, even if it's ourself who is giving the order. You'll make better progress toward your goal if you ask yourself "Will I do this?" rather than telling yourself "I will do this."
So apparently, resolutions really don't work (something I'm sure we've all suspected.) You can motivate yourself better by pondering whether you want to chase your goals, and then, if you decide to, by getting to work rather than telling anyone about it!

Of course, this probably means your blog's rate of new posts will suffer terribly.

Author website: J. J. DeBenedictis

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