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The origin of New Year’s Resolutions can be linked to pre-Christian times in Rome, thousands of years ago. So every year about this time, I ask audiences where I speak how many made New Year’s Resolutions. What I have noticed is that fewer and fewer have gone through the ritual. Does that mean that fewer people are interested in carrying on this ancient tradition? I think not. In fact, it’s been reported that more than half of those that proclaim resolutions fail at realizing them. The reality is that most people who make resolutions don’t keep them – many don’t keep them even for a day. The primary mistake people make in making resolutions is that they think that changing some personal behavior or habit is simply a matter of will power or “making up your mind.” It is as if people who fail don’t grunt enough, don’t have enough resolve (how do you get more of that?), are not really serious (How can you increase your “really seriousness?).
The real mistake lies in not planning or managing consequences well. It is easy to resolve to quit drinking, lose weight, start exercising, etc. but it is harder to plan consequences that you will actually be able to self-administer to get the behavior change you seek. Therefore, the resolution is nothing more than a goal, and goals aren’t reached by grunting, wishing or talking; they are reached when you have consequences that support the behavior change. Here are some practical suggestions to help you be successful should you want to carry on the New Year’s Resolution tradition.
By the way don’t do it in reverse which most people are tempted to do, that is, “I will work in the attic after I come home from McDonalds.” I call that bribery since it reinforces the wrong behavior. You get the reward for promising to do the behavior, not for actually doing it. Not a good plan. Most failures to reach personal or work goals result from poor goal setting and from failure to plan positive reinforcers for success. If you start the New Year with small goals and a multitude of reinforcement, 2012 may be your best year yet!
© Aubrey Daniels International, Inc. All rights reserved. 2021