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How to Make New Year's Resolutions Stick
OK. So it's new year. Again. It happens most years, and most years I have a go at making resolutions which, to be honest, I soon forget. So here's a number of ways I can do what I know I must do.
Lots of Resolutions
The common approach is simply to list all the things that you want to do. A benefit of this is that even if you do not do all of them, perhaps you will do some. The problem is that you are more likely to do the easy ones, using these as a procrastination.
Only One Resolution
If your resolutions are big and important (as they really should be - something you can do in five minutes does not really count), then it is better to have just one resolution. Having a single resolution puts all your eggs in one basket. It also gives you no alternatives. You either work on it or you fail.
Writing Them Down
Writing things down literally makes things more real, even if the reality is just inked words. It nevertheless has a greater impact on us. If you write down your resolutions, put them somewhere you will see them often, like the kitchen wall.
A good way to motivate yourself is to tell other people about what you intend to do. Make this important people, not just odd people at work. If you do not enact your resolution now, you will be shamed in the eyes of significant others.
Frame with Questions
The Question-Behavior Effect is a principle by which asking a person about a behavior will act to change that behavior. So you can use this effect by framing the resolutions in ways that are optimally motivational. A simple way to do this is to ask 'Will you XXXX?' Of course the answer will be 'yes', but then if you do not do it, you will have proved yourself wrong, so you are more likely now to work on the resolution.
Another way to do this is to look at causes of why you might not work on the resolution, and ask questions to help you here. For example if your resolution is to go to the gym, but you do not go as often as you should because you find it boring, then the question might be 'How can I make going to the gym interesting?' Going to the gym is now a foregone conclusion and the motivational question is about making it fun (for example going with friends or taking podcasts).