I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions.
Year after year, December passes by and people start to talk about their New Year’s goals. Then, year after year gyms are and learning apps are flooded with new users, who all drop off by February. While I am a big fan of creating goals and healthy habits for myself, I have a hard time believing in New Year’s Resolutions. My theory as to why they seemed doom to fail is that they aren’t goals that are intrinsically set.
What is Intrinsic Motivation?
Anyone who has taken a educational psychology class (or a study skills class) has heard the terms “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” motivation. In extremely simplified terms, intrinsic motivation comes from within a person, and extrinsic motivation comes from outside forces. An example of intrinsic motivation to learn a language may be that you find the language really interesting, and think it’s fun to speak. An example of extrinsic motivation to learn a language is that you were promised a promotion at work if you learn that language. While both types of motivation plays an important role in meeting goals and “getting shit done”, intrinsic motivation is important to developing a true drive to create change, because once the extrinsic motivator goes away, or doesn’t seem as rewarding (maybe someone else got the promotion in the previous example) you are less likely to complete the task. If the motivation comes from an internal place, external changes are less likely to impact your course of action.
Why Do I Think New Years Goals are Extrinsic?
Think about the most common resolutions people make: “I want to lose weight”, “I want to save more money”, “I want to get a new job” etc. While these may be good goals to have, when you ask people why they want to do them, the answer is almost always shallow. “Well, I’m not as skinny as I should be”, “Everyone says I should have X amount of money in savings”, or “I hate my job, and want to make more money”. These goals are usually based on what they believe other people think about them, and less about their own wants and needs. This, in turn, leads to poor planning and execution. Let’s face it, if their weight, their savings, or their job was really a problem to them, they would talk about making a change more often than once a year around New Years Eve. The harsh truth is, they are setting these goals because they feel like they should be, not because they actually want to.
So, Do I Have New Year’s Resolutions?
The answer is, not in a traditional sense. I didn’t make any new resolutions, but I am re-committing to goals I already have in place. I want to continue working on my language learning goals, so I have assessed the way I practice to determine the best use of my time toward those goals (Spanish and German for those of your wondering). I want to make grow my business, and increase sales during the off season, so I am increasing our social media presence and back-stocking product (click HERE for a link to our Etsy shop if you’re interested). I want to write more and actively work on publishing finished pieces, so I am actively setting aside time on the weekend to write and edit my work. None of these are new goals for the year of 2021, but goals I have been slowly and steadily working on since 2019. I’ve just been making adjustments and changes to my goals as I go along.
Should you give up on New Year’s Resolutions?
No, not if they help you. I am not a life coach, a therapist, or your mother. I’m not here to tell you what to do, or how to live your life. If you like making New Year’s resolutions, then keep making them! They can be fun, inspiring, and can give you a place to start on changing your life. However, I personally believe that the goals you set should be goals that you want to achieve, not something that you feel like you should do.