I don’t keep my resolution, I’m going to punish my sister by making her gain weight.
I’m very good at keeping my New Year’s resolutions. I think of them as a commitment to myself and can fail when the motivation just isn’t there. This is partly why year after year, only about 10 percent of people actually keep their resolutions.
So what good would punishing my sister do? She needs to lose 15 pounds as do I. For both of us, the greatest driver in life is helping others. By that logic, we won’t fail at weight loss if the result of our failure hurts another person. So I got my sister to focus and commit to eating one cupcake every time I go over my daily calorie limit, and I have to eat a cupcake if she goes over hers.
According to Dr. James Maddux, Senior Scholar at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, our plan is grounded in a real psychological concept. Goals are kept because there are planned outcomes or rewards that help someone stay on track.
The secret to accomplishing a goal is to make sure the outcome is arranged beforehand, instead of being a natural consequence. For example, if eating a yummy cupcake wasn’t a outcome of the other person’s failure, it would just be a yummy cupcake almost like a reward for bad behavior.
You may then wind up with the natural outcome of no longer fitting into your clothes or you may not feel well because you’re not eating healthy. But when you ate the cupcake thinking about the calories, you want to burn it off later because you’re actively thinking about the outcome.
The motivator has to be personal
The motivator also has to be individualized; just like not everyone loves butternut squash, not everyone is motivated by helping their sister lose weight. A different motivator can be a consequence of not getting a new dress for a party or a reward of getting new clothes after losing 20 pounds.
In my and my sister’s case, the motivator is that we want to help the other person. While the outcome is negative, supporting each other is positive. Also, we both have the same goal to achieve.
If money is your motivator, you might give a friend or family member $1000 to hold onto and then you get $20 back for every pound you lose. You could also give your sister $3 every time you eat a cookie or cheat on your diet as a punishment, he says.
Don’t forget to give yourself small rewards
Maddux says the biggest mistake you can make is not giving yourself small rewards along the way. It’s very common to lose sight of your goal and fail because the big reward for sticking to the goal won’t be fulfilled for a considerable length of time. If the goal is to have a new wardrobe after losing 20 pounds, buy a pair of shoes or an accessory that doesn’t require trying on clothes after every four pounds lost.
This will make the journey toward your goal feel more easy and worth it.
According to Maddux, the best news is that everyone has willpower. Some people think you either have it or you don’t, but you aren’t destined to failure if you don’t have it now, he says. Self-control is a teachable, learnable skill acquired through practice and trying different techniques, says Maddux. You may need to stay away from the stimulus (the items that promote bad behavior) until you learn self-control.
Whether you satisfy your resolutions through consequences, rewards, or a combination of both, make a real commitment and FOCUS. You may find you can achieve goals you never thought you were capable of reaching.