It’s the beginning of a new year. We’re all seeing the goals, aspirations, and resolutions of our friends and acquaintances across social media. People are boldly proclaiming that this is their year!
I genuinely hope it’s true… for everyone!
According to Forbes, however, studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.
So what’s the deal?
It’s only natural to share
We all have the best of intentions, the highest of hopes, and the determination that we are sure will catapult us to the finish line.
So it’s only natural that we would want to share our excitement with others, right? I mean, maybe we’ll even motivate someone else to be their best this year as well. How good would that feel?
Your brain can be bamboozled
Research has shown that broadcasting your next big plan to succeed can actually stifle your motivation. Even the smallest bit of encouragement and approval can give you such a feeling of accomplishment that your brain acts as if you’ve already achieved your goal. Then the actual going-after-the-goal excitement no longer exists.
In this excerpt from a Psychology Today article, we learn a lot:
“When we publicize our goal intentions, and others acknowledge the awesomeness of such “potential” changes, we get our dopamine reward all at once. The more others admire our goals, the more dopamine rush we get, and the less likely we are to execute the future necessary actions to implement them.
Therefore we deplete our “feel good” gas, keeping us from reaching our final destination: our goal. Furthermore, publicizing our intention to succeed gives us a “premature sense of completeness”. It signals the brain to move on. If the brain believes that you have reached your goal, it might inhibit the specific brain circuits related to further pursuing this goal.”
Aren’t I supposed to have an accountability partner?
Accountability partners aren’t for everyone.
As stated above, even just receiving approval can have an effect on your brain almost as powerfully as if you have achieved the goal.
Conversely, as I learned from personal experience and experiments on myself, receiving the smallest amount of negative feedback can also put the kibosh on your commitments.
My little experiment proved this all to be true for me
In 2016, after countless attempts to cut refined sugar out of my life in previous years, I had determined that enough was enough.
But I kept it to myself for the first time ever.
This is no easy task, because the moment someone catches you turning down a piece of birthday cake or the candy dish offering at work, you will be interrogated.
In the past, when I told people that I’m done with sugar, they would say things like: “That’s not realistic. What about your kids’ birthdays? That’s no way to live. Everything in moderation.”
So this time around, in 2016 and beyond, when people would ask why I’m not eating the sweets, I would simply say things like: “I’ve had enough lately, so I’m going to have to pass this time.” “I am doing a little experiment to see how my body reacts to no sugar.” “My tummy isn’t feeling up to sweets right now.”
I basically felt the need to come up with something that hid the fact that this time was going to be the last time. I would never eat sweets again.
If I had said “never again,” like I had in the past, people would show their disbelief, their doubt, and their disapproval. And due to my insecurities at the time, I began to believe them. I thought, Yeah, I should just eat sugar in moderation.
Well, moderation doesn’t work for everyone, so I had to do what worked for me.
Results speak for themselves
Why not try something different this year by keeping your goals under your hat in the beginning?
Be consistent and persistent in the ups and downs, quietly practicing your new habits and routines. Take the next right step.
People will start noticing your achievements and asking questions. Have you lost weight? You seem so happy. Your house is so organized. Can you help me?
So what if you’ve already told everyone what you’re planning to do this year? Are you doomed to fail? Of course not. But maybe just dial it down a few notches, keep pushing forward, and wait for your results to speak for themselves.