New Year’s Resolutions: Do They Work?

January 1, 2007

In the relatively short span of one or two years, I have gone from feeling guilty that I didn’t write down my goals to feeling guilty that I spent too much time writing than doing. My experience with writing down goals or resolutions has been that I feel very good write after having written them down, but when the time comes to actually live them, my mentality has changed completely.

One good way to avoid this problem is to avoid simply telling yourself how to behave. Instead, you can employ various tricks to change your behavior. For instance, suppose you had a particularly odious responsibility to fulfill. Instead of confronting yourself with the task before you, just start doing it. Continue thinking about whatever interesting thing you were doing before. Don’t let your brain know that you’re doing the dreaded work.

Another trick is to generate positive associations. Some people will tell you to reward yourself after having met some sort of milestone in the job you have to do. This has never worked for me. My idea is to make the reward happen during the work. For instance, listen to music or eat chocolate while you’re working. Hopefully, this will change your negative association with doing something you have to do into a more positive one.


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