5 Science-Backed Ways to Stick to Your Resolutions This Year
Sometimes the only thing standing between you and being your better self is motivation. What else compels you to push yourself, work harder, overcome challenges, or go that extra mile? Be it at the office or at the gym, motivation is a key component to achieving our goals. And while oftentimes getting motivated is no easy feat, there's a proven science behind increasing your motivation.
So whether you’re trying to stick to your New Year's resolutions this year or are simply trying to increase your motivation this week, try out these science-backed strategies that guarantee you'll get ahead. Whatever your goal, a little motivation can go a long way. These tips are straightforward, simple to implement, and backed up by studies. So whenever you're in need of a boost in your motivation level, practice these habits and you'll be well on your way to sticking to your resolutions or finding success with your goals.
Keep scrolling to study up on five science-backed ways to increase your motivation and begin applying them to your life today.
One of the most difficult parts of getting going toward your goal is just getting started. Taking the first step—be it a project or a new workout regimen—can be daunting. The greater the task, the more overwhelming you'll feel when you're trying to begin. Research highlighted in Psychology Today shows that getting yourself into a flow state first—by tackling less demanding, easier to accomplish tasks—will allow you to get into the groove and build the confidence to take on the larger project.
The closer a deadline feels, the more pressure we feel to complete the task. No matter how much time is given to completing or achieving something, many are prone to procrastinate until the 11th hour. To stay on top of tasks so you don't end up missing deadlines or pulling all-nighters at the last minute, an analysis of studies published in Psychological Science advises to set your deadlines in days rather than weeks or months. Perceiving time in days helps your mind to process just how many sun ups and sundowns you have at your disposal to execute the task. The research shows that people separate their future self from their present self, delegating future tasks to their future self, even when those tasks require present action. So whether it's a report at work due in two weeks or your desire to reach a fitness goal by next month, set the deadline in days to trick your present self to feel the need to address it now.
Having the right attitude can greatly affect your level of motivation. Staying positive helps your chances of staying productive and overcoming procrastination. In a study discussed in Daniel Akst's Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess, "the most procrastination occurred among bad-mood students who believed their mood could be changed and who had access to fun distractions." It goes without saying that this shortsighted strategy for boosting one's mood actually leads to increased stress and reason to be unhappy when deadlines are missed and goals are left unachieved. Those who adopt a positive attitude and don't allow themselves to succumb to procrastination as a form of mood relief will find increased motivation to get things done and reap the rewards.
Monitor Your Progress
Progress is the single most powerful influencer of motivation, according to Teresa Amabile, the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School, in her book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work. Use your progress as positive feedback to incite motivation. If you're creating career goals, set milestones you plan on achieving and celebrate them when you do. If you're taking on a new fitness regimen, a fitness tracker can help provide an instantaneous assessment of your progress, encouraging you to stay motivation to reach your next goal.
Keep It Secret
While it may seem like sharing your goals or resolutions with others will help provide accountability and put pressure on you to stick to them, research from New York University actually reveals that sharing has the opposite effect. Simply verbalising our intentions to friends and family gives us a premature feeling of accomplishment, and when they point out small improvements we're less likely to see our goals through until the end. So whatever big plans you have set out for the New Year, keep your motivation high by keeping your goals to yourself. Then, once you've achieved what you set out to accomplish, reward yourself by sharing it with your loved ones.