Nadia Goodman in TED Ideas:
It’s the time of year when optimism strikes anew and we think to ourselves: our New Year’s resolutions will totally work out this time. Never mind that we abandoned them by Valentine’s Day last year. And the year before. And, well, you know the drill.
But what if this year really could be different?
There’s a science to setting goals. The problem is that it often stays in the ivory tower or gets muddled with misinformation. We called up Kelly McGonigal (TED Talk: How to make stress your friend), a psychologist at Stanford University, and asked her about the best way to set and accomplish a goal, scientifically speaking. Below, she shares four research-backed tips to help you craft and carry out successful goals.
Choose a goal that matters, not just an easy win.
Our brains are wired to love rewards, so we often set simple goals that make it easy to check off boxes. Did you go to the gym today? Check. Did you write in your journal? Check. “It feels really good to set a goal,” says McGonigal. “People often set them just for the burst of optimism they get when they vow to make a change.” But if that’s all our New Year’s resolutions are about, no wonder we end up abandoning them so quickly.