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Keep That Resolution To Yourself

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[caption id="attachment_3386" align="aligncenter" width="900"]"That's so great you want to lose 100 pounds by Valentine's Day!" "That's so great you want to lose 100 pounds by Valentine's Day!"[/caption] When you make a New Year's resolution, how many people do you tell? Probably at least a couple friends, family, and of course, several hundred mostly strangers on Facebook. That's what I did at least. Unfortunately we might all have made a terrible, terrible mistake. Because 80 years of research on motivation and goal pursuit makes a strong argument that telling people about your resolution makes you less likely to keep it. I have to credit my friend Eric with first bringing this concept to my attention. According to the article, "People who talk a lot about how they’re going to achieve some goal end up being less likely to put actual work into achieving that goal." Phrased like that, I'll bet we can all think of people in our lives who always talk about doing something but never actually do. And as is always the case, if you can't think of that person, it's you! The big problem is that you can substitute talking about your goal for actually achieving it: "Someone resolves to run a marathon in 2016, then proceeds to tell this to everyone he knows. Suddenly he’s posting photos of his new running shoes all over Instagram, and tweeting about the merits of one training plan over another. He starts to feel like the kind of person who runs marathons -- never mind that he’s so far avoided doing much of the work required to actually run one. Researchers call this sort of nonsense social reality — that is, people often mistake talking about their goal for progress toward achieving that goal, and this is especially true when the goal is tied up with their identity, or the way they want to be perceived by others." Basically telling people about your resolution lets you get social rewards for the goal without actually doing anything towards it. "But Ken," you say, "it's already two weeks into the new year. I've been telling people I'm going to run a marathon while singing on key in a second language while visiting a foreign country and making my by bed every day." Well that's a shame. I guess you aren't going to accomplish any of those goals. But you can take solace knowing you probably weren't going to accomplish them anyway, and in March when you realize you've fallen so far off your resolutions you don't even remember what they looked like, you can recommit to them (maybe choosing something more achievable this round) and this time, keep them to yourself.

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