Why are new year promises so difficult to keep? One common reason is that these promises are unpleasant to achieve. Getting fit, eating healthy, being more effective at work all sounds great but require significant amounts of determination and effort.
As noted by Sigmund Freud, mind seeks pleasure and avoids pain – a phenomena often referred to as “the pleasure principle”
As a consequence, to maximize chances of realization, goals must not only be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based – but also enjoyable.
So if getting fit is your goal, how can you make it enjoyable? While forcing yourself to run 10 km at 05:00 in the morning could be enjoyable for some, i prefer the extra hour of sleep. Attending a dance course after work twice a week is maybe not as effective in terms of burning calories, but certainly much more enjoyable for most people. For me personally, yoga provides instant gratification as well as both physical and mental benefits. Also, the barrier to achieve 30 min of yoga on a daily basis is very low, as it can be done at home. Roll out the mat, and you are in business!
Eating healthy is another very common new year promise. Again, if all you can think of is the great steaks, snacks and sweets you have to avoid, the venture may be very short lived in deed. If you are going to try to eat more healthy, ensure to make it mouth-dripping delicious! A few examples:
- Always have a wide selection of delicious fruit and vegetables available at home
- Bring overly delicious / decadent / hedonistic salads to work for lunch (make your colleagues green of jealousy)
- For dinners, explore the wide variety of delicious fishes available in stead of meats
Finally, the desire to be more effective at work can be another source of stress if it does not provide instant gratification and relief. Here is one for you: limit the number of emails in your inbox to an absolute minimum, and get more time for important and / or fun things :
- Get off mailing lists – you never read those newsletters anyway. Or create an mail agent that puts these newsletters in to a folder
- Likewise, create a mail agent for management information that you can read when you have time
- Create an automatic reply agent with the following message: Thank you for your email! I usually read my emails in the morning and in the late afternoon. If you have an urgent request, please call me at….”
These are just a few examples of how you can make your new year promises full of pleasure and gratification. So happy new year, and good luck with identifying your most enjoyable new year promises!