If you’re like many people then you’ll be making New Year’s resolutions shortly. And if you’re like most people you’ll be breaking those resolutions within days. In one study, 52% of people making resolutions were confident of achieving them, yet only 12% actually did so. It’s a shame because most of the goals people set are good ones! Here are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make:
- Spend more time with family
- Lose weight
- Start exercising
- Quit smoking
- Quit drinking
- Get organized
- Get out of debt
The list is admirable so why are these goals so difficult to achieve for the vast majority of people? There are probably as many reasons as there are resolutions, but we don’t need to spend time on them because you’ve probably heard just about all of them…and perhaps even used a few yourselves! As I’ve done in years past I’m going to share an influence technique that can help you PAVE the way to success in the New Year.
In the study of persuasion there’s a powerful motivator of behavior known as “consistency
.” This principle says that people feel compelled to act in ways that are consistent with their prior actions, words, deed, beliefs and values. When we act in consistently we feel better about ourselves and people perceive us in a more favorable light, which adds to our authority.
We are going to take a look at consistency as it pertains to you and four simple things to strengthen its power in your life. These simple ideas will PAVE the way to your success because they’ll dramatically increase the odds that you’ll follow through on your New Year’s resolutions.
Public – Any time you make a public statement, whether verbally or in writing, you’re putting yourself on the line. The mere fact that another person knows your intention and might ask you how you’re coming along with your commitment is quite often enough motivation for people to follow through. Recommendation #1 – Share with another person or group of people, your New Year’s resolution and ask them to hold you accountable.
Active – You have to actively do something. Merely thinking about a resolution, just keeping it to yourself, will lead to the same results as people who don’t make resolutions. In other words, nothing will change. This came to light in a study with a group of students who wanted to improve their college grades. One group was asked to write their goals down, one group kept their goals in their heads, and the last group had no specific goal whatsoever. As you can imagine, the group with the written goals succeeded, with nearly 90% of students increasing by a full letter grade! With the other two groups the results were almost identical. In each group fewer than 1 in 6 students improved a full letter grade. It’s worth noting, they were all given the same study materials so they all had the same opportunity. Recommendation #2 – Make sure you have to take some active step. It could be as simple as buying a book to help you learn more about the changes you’re hoping to make.
Voluntary – This has to be YOUR goal, not someone else’s goal for you. If you’re trying to do something – quit smoking, lose weight, get in shape – it’s not likely your motivation will last if someone told you to do it. The goal has to come from you because if it’s forced on you it’s not likely your desire will last long. Samuel Butler said it best when he wrote, “He who complies against his will is of the same opinion still.” Recommendation #3 – Make sure it’s something you want to do.
Effortful – It was noted above that you have to actively do something. In other words, making the commitment should require some effort on your part. In fact, the more effort you expend setting up your goal, the more likely you are to succeed. Something as simple as writing down your resolution can make a difference, even if you don’t share it with anyone. But, taking the time to share it also fulfills the public requirement, which gives you more bang for the buck! Dr. Robert Cialdini puts it this way, “People live up to what they write down.” Recommendation #4 – Commit pen to paper and you’ll increase your chance for success significantly.
None of what I just shared is new but I’m willing to bet many of you have not tried the PAVE technique before. If you’ve been one to make resolutions in the past only to fail, then give this different approach a try. If you fail again you’re no worse off but this different approach might just be your key to success in 2013. Good luck and Happy New Year to all of you!
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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