3 Steps to Get Back on Track with Your New Year's ResolutionsBy Homaira Kabir
It's that time of the year when a lot of us quit the New Year's resolutions we set with such determination less than a month ago. Perhaps it’s the dreary weather that begins to take a toll on us. Perhaps it’s the deprivation we put ourselves through, or the upward battle we didn't foresee. Perhaps it’s the ease and pleasure of old habits that draw us back to the life we were desperate to leave far behind.
It's estimated that about 80 percent of New Year's resolutions fail by February, but the effects of these failures go way beyond unreached goals or unchanged habits. Persistent failure can lead to lack of agency and eventually to a state of learned helplessness where we give up on even our most cherished goals.
If you find your goals slipping away, it's time to understand what's going on and to recommit to the life you want for yourself.
Know Your Why
A lot of us commit to goals that are driven by some form of extrinsic motivation. For example, we may be looking to win the approval of others or to be rewarded for the outcome. Or we may be driven by our own expectations of ourselves—often a result of the expectations we grew up with and hang on to—in order to maintain our sense of self-worth. Some of us may genuinely believe that the desired outcome is important, but the importance may be tied more closely to what society values than to our own needs and values.
Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan's research on motivation has shown that intrinsic motivation is not only a far better predictor of goal success but also correlated with psychological well-being. This doesn't necessarily mean we dump our current goals and move to a remote mountain village to discover our calling. It simply means understanding why our goals are important to us and how they help us achieve something that's far bigger than our sense of self-worth. For example, losing weight may allow us to be more involved in activities that are meaningful to us. Or managing our