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World's Easiest Way to Follow Through on Your New Year's Resolution

Frame your resolution such that success or failure reflects on you, not your action.
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Language, as you know, carries a whole lot of power.

And there's (at least) one way you can siphon that power to ensure you follow up on your New Year's Resolution.

The idea comes courtesy of Britt Peterson, writing in the Boston Globe, and it's a simple one. Rather than basing your resolution on what you want to accomplish next year, base it on what you do or don't want to be.

Peterson cites academic research showing that people are more likely to head to the polls when they're urged to "be voters" rather than to "vote."

At least in theory, this could also work with your resolution. Say you're promising yourself that you will no longer bite your nails, starting Jan. 1.

In a couple months' time against a tight deadline, you might rationalize yourself into a nibble. But if you instead tell yourself you are all done being a nail biter in 2014, you might think twice before taking an action that will put you in that category again.

Another example: Rather than resolving to get to the gym, resolve to be a gym rat. Or rather than saying you're going to eat healthier, say you're going to be a healthy eater. And so on.

"For identity labels with strong moral or emotional associations, positioning yourself as a type of actor instead of just saying you’ll do something seems to provide more motivation," Peterson explains.

Last updated: Dec 31, 2013




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