If you wish to reach your goals (who doesn’t?), don’t get seduced into making New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because research says resolutions don’t work. Paradoxically, by not making them, you may be more likely to achieve and maintain your goals.
According to The New Year’s Resolutions That Won’t Fail You by Oliver Burkeman (NEWSWEEK, 12/24/12), “psychological research increasingly suggests that ‘repeating affirmations’ makes people with low self-esteem feel worse; that visualizing your ambitions can make you less motivated to achieve them, [and] that goal setting can backfire.” Positive messages deliver only a “short-lived boost, and when that fades, the most obvious way to revive it is to go back for more.” Kinda like dieting, huh?
Burkeman goes on to talk about why change is difficult, giving a similar explanation to the advice in my book, THE RULES OF “NORMAL” EATING. Even making one change, say, around food, is hard because it involves so many aspects of life—family, friends, work, emotions, impulse control, stress, lifestyle. According to Burkeman, trying to change too much about yourself “would require impossible psychological acrobatics: somehow you’d have to change everything about yourself while simultaneously being the self who is directing the changes.” See why improving eating is such a challenge?
The article also talks about the myth of focusing relentlessly on goals. A better approach is to “set ‘process’ goals,” that is, to attend not to the end but to the means, the how-do-you-get-there rather than the “being there.” And, here’s some advice you’ve heard before: The worst thing you can do is to worry about succeeding or failing, a useless habit of disregulated eaters. Stay in the present and the future takes care of itself.