What’s driving your resolutions?

NY res postcard

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_resolution#/media/File:Postcards2CardsNewYearsResolution1915.jpg

Did you develop some new year resolutions? Have you ever wondered why we make them? And, if you don’t ever keep them, what’s the point?

Your resolve
I am not sure about the history of new year’s resolutions, but I do have my own ideas about setting goals for the year. Goals or objectives usually contain aspirations. If they are your own, there should be some buy-in. If not, well you are potentially paying lip service to something … or someone? I think, if you are going to the trouble of making them, they should be meaningful to you.

In a previous post I talked about how to stay on track with goals in Holiday season reflections – 5 ways to start 2016 well. Some would argue that this post should have come first, and I agree – it would have a more logical flow to have the theoretical underpinnings first. My reversal reflects starting with the end in mind, and an action plan – and then wondering why these things are important to us. Either way the power of choice in reading order is only a couple of clicks away.

Why make resolutions/goals/objectives?
Goal setting theory proposes that by setting goals you focus your efforts, which in turn is motivating. Add to that some ongoing feedback and encouragement, and the motivation is amplified. Feedback can come from a third-party or be generated by monitoring your own performance and seeing progress towards your goals.

Making goals gives you something to work towards. A purpose. Something to achieve. A betterment to your life, well-being or your future. Having a focus means you may have to go without, put in extra effort or sacrifice free time for another cause. Reducing your choices because of a commitment intensifies its significance. Its gives something more meaning when it has cost you something. That in itself can be motivating.

What about motivation?
In the 1960s a guy called Victor Vroom popularised “expectancy” theory. The formula showed motivation as being the product of your expectations (expectancy), the value of the achievement(valence) and effort involved (instrumentality). The thoery proposes that in concert, these factors can increase your motivation.

Vroom's theory graphic

Motivation can be extrinsic (external to you, eg scores, awards) or intrinsic (internal sense of satisfaction). Both have value but the one that has more long-lasting value is intrinsic motivation. That is the subject of a book by Daniel Pink, entitled Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2009). It suggests:

“The secret to high performance and satisfaction  – at work, at school, and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” 

What holds – modern or older theories?
Modern theories evolved out of older ones – as much learning does. There are important concepts and principles established in the older theories which were developed for people of that time. Writers like Pink, draw on those theories and refer to them in applying their own thinking to contemporise emerging theories. Like lots of innovative ideas, he proposes new ways to look at familiar situations.

Can you sustain motivation?
Motivation can be sustained by keeping it visible. If the goal itself is something of value to you, if it moves you to want to achieve it, and you perceive it within your capability – it holds the power of motivation. We all need extrinsic motivators to remind us of our goals and progress as well as the intrinsic motivators that keep us aligned with the program we set ourselves.

I think setting a goal, getting a visual image of what it is you want. You’ve got to see what it is you want to achieve before you can pursue it.
~ Chuck Norris

Knowing yourself and the sort of supports you need to put in place to keep yourself on track are also important. That’s another post though – on willpower, that I will share next week.

Back to resolutions
What about my resolutions? I thought I lived quite a healthy life – but with recent medical outcomes, I think I need to revisit that. I am reading The Essence of Life by Dr Craig Hassed and propose to implement that. So my word for 2016 is wellness.

And you? Have you made plans for yourself this 2016? Have you resolved to direct your life in a particular way? To learn or create new things? To do better by yourself and your world? I would love to hear what you are aspiring to.


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