The Happiness Connection  

Programmed for success

I am not a fan of setting resolutions as the calendar flips from one year to the next.

I suspect this is because New Year’s resolutions have become a tradition closer to making a wish as you pull the turkey wishbone, rather than setting a serious intention for improvement.

How many times have you decided in January to lose weight or live a healthier life-style, only to have the goal fade from your mind before Valentine’s Day?

If this is you, you are not alone.

One of the most popular January search topics on Google is gyms. This is when the term spikes compared to the rest of the year.

According to Gold’s Gym, there is a 40 per cent increase in memberships and drop-ins when they compare December figures with January’s.

That statistic sounds a little more extreme than it really is. Many people stop going to the gym over Christmas because they are away, have company, or give themselves a break.

The increase of new memberships in January compared to months other than December is more like 20 per cent.

If you go to the gym regularly, you know this annoying increase in people working out will only last a few weeks before things return to normal.

You may want to be fitter, but without the right motivation and knowledge, that desire is unlikely to ever be more than a wish.

Setting a goal and prioritizing it for a few weeks before you feel defeated and let it go is not my idea of how to make successful and lasting changes in your life.

That is why I sigh when the inevitable discussion about New Year’s resolutions surfaces.

Why is it so difficult to follow through with long-term goals?

Would it surprise you to know that you aren’t programmed to focus on the distant future? You are programmed to think about today and maybe tomorrow or next week.

There is no use looking into the future if you aren’t sure you will live to see the end of today.

In primal times, the only thing that really mattered was survival. Although that isn’t necessarily your primary concern any more, you are still programmed as if it were.

Your drive to procreate, take more notice of negative situations than positive ones, and to value what you know more than something new, hasn’t changed since humans roamed the savannah. These are all traits that promoted survival.

Having children meant your species would survive. Negative emotions came when you felt threatened, so they needed more attention than positive ones. Methods that had worked before were trusted, so resisting change made sense.

Long-term goals didn’t serve as useful a purpose as short-term ones did, so we weren’t programmed to achieve them. Research shows most people would prefer $10 now rather than $15 next month.

Your primitive programming isn’t sure you will be around to collect the larger amount in a month’s time.

Long-term goals weren’t part of the human survival drive. Planning for tomorrow wouldn’t matter if you didn’t make it through today alive.

This programming is one reason humans struggle with objectives that take time to achieve.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon long-term goals, but it does suggest that you should approach them differently. You need to be conscious of your programming if you want to be successful.

This is a big topic, so I am going to spend the next week or two talking about:

  • goal setting,
  • how to stay motivated
  • ways to deal with setbacks.

I may not be a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I am a big believer in creating intentions for the year ahead and then putting yourself in the best position for success.

Next week, I will be talking about Expectancy Theory and a scientifically proven formula for achieving goals. Spend some time before then deciding what you want to accomplish in 2019 and I’ll see you in the new year.

All the best for 2019.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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