Keep your New Years Resolution to yourself – no, really.
That’s what the science tells us. If you want to achieve your New Years Resolution then don’t tell anyone about it. As is briefly explained in this TED Talk the act of telling others about your goals gives you a sense of accomplishment. A sense of accomplishment that undermines your ability to follow through with actually doing it. Telling other people what you’re “going to do” and their encouraging responses is pleasurable, and therefore rewarding. It feels like you’re already the kind of person who would do The Thing. But its just a trick. Its like an optical illusion for your willpower. A “motivational illusion” if you will.
So what can we do in a world where talking about what we want to accomplish makes that accomplishment less likely? Where up is down and down is up? We turn things around. Instead of telling people about your new years resolution, try and make them tell you.
Lets take a classic resolution as an example – losing weight. Ordinarily you would promise yourself that you would stop drinking soda, or to lose 15 lbs, or to fit into a ‘size X’-2, by the end of the year. And you would tell people your plan, and it would be well thought out and everyone would be proud of you for being healthier. But that won’t help make it happen.
The new plan is to look forward to someone telling you by the end of the year “you look like you’ve lost some weight”. The social approval and congratulations will have to wait until you’ve done The Thing. You’ll wake up in the morning early to go to the gym and not want to. But you won’t already have been rewarded by your friends support. You’ll have to earn the approval of your friends by doing The Thing. That’s the point of reversing the Resolution.
So go out there and show me what you plan on doing. Let your actions speak for you and maybe we can all make the change in ourselves that we want.
This post comes to us from Sunday Assembly Boston member Josiah. You can find more of his work on his blog. If you’d like to write for Sunday Assembly Boston, send us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org