My wife just asked me what my resolutions were for 2009. I normally don’t do ‘resolutions’ but the question, and the many blog posts about resolutions, started me thinking.
What is it about the changing of the ‘year’ that gets people into the mindset of making resolutions to do things differently in the ‘new year’?
Well…being the geek that I am, I had to look into it.
I read a few articles about the psychology of new year’s resolutions….two of the more interesting articles were:
The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions lists some results from a 1998 survey that aren’t that surprising:
most people — 75 percent — who make a resolution fail on their first attempt and most people — 67 percent — make more than one resolution.
Not really that amazing if you think about it. The results from that survey also show:
people who believe that self-control is something dynamic, changing and unlimited (e.g., “I can stop smoking, all I have to do is put my mind to it. I can also change my eating and be a better person, it just takes willpower.”) tend to set more resolutions.
People who believe that we all are born with a limited, set amount of self-control that one cannot change (e.g., “I can’t help myself from eating all this chocolate — I inherited the ‘chocolate gene’ from my mom!”) and who also have little belief in their own capabilities to carry out their own goals (they have what psychologists refer to as “low self-efficacy”) naturally did worse on obtaining their New Year’s resolution goals.
Very interesting, don’t you think? In order to meet your resolutions or goals, you’ve got to believe that you can reach them.
The 2nd article (What is Really Behind New Year’s Resolutions) backs this up when they report:
The first step in making any permanent change is to become an observer of your life. This is simply becoming aware of your thoughts and actions. Your thoughts lead to emotional states which lead to your actions. Take responsibility for your thoughts, emotional states and actions
To meet your goals, you’ve got to think about them constantly, not just at the new year. You’ve got to continuously re-asses these goals and compare them with your life and see if the goals still make sense.
So…back to the original thought. Why is it that we wait until the New Year to make these resolutions. For most people, I think it’s because they get so wrapped in day-to-day life that they (me too?) lose focus on what they (I?) really want to do with their life.
So what are my resolutions?
Well…I’m going to try Chris Brogan’s appraoch to goals for the new year. Chris has used an interesting approach called “3 words” since 2006 and it looks like his approach has worked well for him.
Here’s my 3 words: Create, Think, Lead.
More on those words:
- Create – Whether I’m writing for this blog, working on my doctorate, working on entrepreneurial activities, working with clients or spending time with family, I want to be creating 2009.
- Think – I want to think better. I want to think more creatively. I also want to make other people think….this is what I’ll be working on for the coming year.
- Lead – My goal for the coming year is to lead in everything I do. This doesn’t mean I want/need to be the ‘best’ at everything I do (although it would be nice)…I want to be seen as a leader in the various aspects of my life. My writing, my research, my work…I’m going to push to be someone that people look to for information and direction.
2009 is going to be a good year….I’m going to make it one and I hope you do too.
I blogged about a few other alternatives to resolutions: http://kentblumberg.typepad.com/kent_blumberg/2009/01/7-alternatives-to-new-years-resolutions.html.
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