New Year’s Resolutions
Only one day left before we greet the year 2016. With Christmas behind us, hopefully all family feuds are resolved and we can start the new year fresh and full of positive energy. Aside from planning the most spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration, a lot of people are also contemplating whether or not to make New Year’s resolutions.
Resolutions are goals that represent a person’s inner desire. A strong desire can be a driving force behind the motivation to attain a certain objective. Nonetheless, it should be noted that setting goals does not come without risk; it goes hand in hand with a pressure to perform. By setting a goal, you take on a commitment to achieve an objective and if you flake out on that commitment, you might experience negative emotions related to the concept of failure. Because of this downside risk, a lot of people refrain from making New Year’s resolutions.
What is wisdom here? Should you make resolutions in order to motivate yourself to achieve certain objectives or should you avoid the tradition because of the possible negative consequences?
The practice of goal setting has been extensively researched; the outcomes are widely dispersed. Some researchers showed that setting goals has a positive effect on a person’s behavior, which in turn improves their performance (Lock et al., 1990). Stipulating an objective will motivate people to strive to achieve what they want.
Opposite research found that setting goals actually works counterproductive (Soman et al., 2004). This result stems from the fact that people get stressed out from the pressure placed on them via the preset goal, which in turn influences their performance adversely. In addition, negative emotions are possibly instigated by not attaining the objective.
When it comes to your aspirations, it is important that you do remain reasonable. If your objective is to become a millionaire by tomorrow, whether or not there is a lottery pull today, chances are you are setting yourself up for failure. This is obviously not the intention of goal setting. Research has provided some guidelines concerning the formulation of your goals. Namely, the way you define your objectives influences the effectiveness of attaining them.
- Formulate a clearly specified goal (Locke et al., 1990).
If you’re being vague, you can’t audit yourself or your progress.
- Set goals, which are possible to attain in the near future (Bandura et al., 1981).
Setting near future goals is more effective than distant goals, because by focusing on proximate objectives you can track your progress more easily and you will diminish the risk of losing motivation.
- Set learning goals opposed to performance goals (Dweck, 1996).
Performance goals focus on a specific target within a specific time period. Opposite, learning goals focus on increasing someone’s competence, which means they concentrate on long-term development.
All in all, the effect of setting goals might be something you should experience. We are all amazingly unique and we all respond to situations differently. What works best for you is something only you can find out.
That being said, it is always meaningful to think about what you want in life – what your desires are and what you ultimately dream of. How you go about it, how you chase your dreams is up to you. One thing is for certain – no one is going to hand your dreams to you on a silver platter – you will have to work for it!
Bandura, A., & Schunk, D. H. (1981). Cultivating competence, selfefficacy, and intrinsic interest through proximal self-motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 41, 586-598.
Dweck, C. S. (1996). Implicit theories as organizers of goals and behavior. In P. M. Gollwitzer & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), The psychology of action: Linking cognition and motivation to action (pp. 69-90). New York
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs.
Soman, Dilip and Amar Cheema (2004), “When Goals Are Counterproductive: The Effects of Violation of a Behavioral Goal on Subsequent Performance,” Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 52–62.