I didn't make any formal New Year's resolutions this year except to promise I wouldn't beat myself up on tough days when my to-do list is no more than a coaster for my coffee cup.
Resolutions are tough to keep, but that doesn't stop many of us from making them each year. A large-scale research analysis of New Year's resolutions by Oscarsson et al., found the top 15 most popular resolutions from a survey of 1,066 participants (see adapted figure below).
Not surprisingly, physical health and weight loss came out as the top resolutions according to the survey respondents. The paper goes on to show that the responders who created approach-oriented goals rather than avoidance-oriented goals were more successful in sustaining their resolutions at a one-year follow-up.
Approach-oriented goals frame actions in a positive light rather than objectives that aim to avoid certain activities. For example, instead of a goal to avoid sitting on the couch for more than three hours a day, an approach goal would be to go for a walk for at least 30 minutes a day.
Approach goals are associated with more positive emotion and remove the negative connotation associated with avoiding a behavior or action.
While I stated earlier that I didn't make any formal New Year's resolutions, I would like to share three approach-oriented technique's I use to stay motivated when I am ready to face my to-do list..
Change surroundings - It could be moving to another room, going to a coffee shop or even the public library. I like to change my surroundings when I am stuck, can't think, or need a break from negative thoughts. This approach is a powerful one that always helps shake off the blues.
Rework a big milestone into a smaller one - A big project can be intimidating. I micro-step the big stuff. For example, if I have a deadline to create a new concept for a client, my first micro-step is to find inspiration images. It soothes me to see how other people design and gives me confidence to begin.
Create an achievement list - Looking at a list of what you have accomplished makes it easier to accomplish more. A designer specific example for this technique is creating a portfolio of previous work. A simple example is writing a list of what you are thankful for.
Doubt and negative thoughts can overtake anyone's resolve. Once you acknowledge that it is ok not to be 100% on top of your goals, try practicing the three approach-oriented techniques I outlined above and be amazed at how your motivation can be
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Julia Fletcher founded JEFS Storytelling Arts to use her unique research skills and artistic talents to create custom visual stories that help clients' increase engagement and promote the education of their audience.