Today is January 1st. Happy New Year, y’all. What’s your New Year resolution? A new workout routine, reading a book at least every month, getting a new job, or starting a business? New Year, new you, right? Good call! Whatever your plans for this year are, if you’ve told the world about it (through your social media), then there’s a chance you might not achieve your goals, according to research.
Related media: 50 New Years Resolutions Ideas
New Year, New You: Don’t Tell Us
Telling people about what you plan on doing has made you think you’ve taken on that identity in their minds already — that’s what psychologists call “social reality.” In a 2009 study by psychologists from New York University, they ran a series of experiments just to examine this phenomenon. For each experiment, the participants (students of a certain field of study: like clinical psychology and law) took a survey on how important it was for them to find their dream job, and how they plan on getting that job.
Half of the participants presented their answers to the researchers to read; the other half kept theirs a secret. They were later asked to perform a task in their chosen field of career: for instance, the clinical psychology student were given 40 minutes to have eye-to-eye contact with their patients, whereas the law students were given 45 minutes to solve 20 different criminal cases. All participants were told they could finish early if they wanted to.
How Do You Achieve New Year Goals?
For each experiment, the participants who shared their ideas with the researchers ended up spending less time on the task than those who kept theirs a secret.
“Other people’s taking notice of one’s identity-relevant intentions apparently engenders a premature sense of completeness regarding the identity goal,” says the researchers.
In other words, if someone notice the goals you have, you end up feeling like you’ve already accomplished them. In addition, it seems that the more they were dedicated to their goals, the worse the effect was. As it turned out, the researchers’ knowledge about clinical psychology really did affect those who want to be clinicians, as against those who didn’t. But how does this affect you? This is really controversial. Most people think that declaring your goals is just a way to stay accountable to them, and not that you’ve achieve them already, right? Here’s what science has to say: It all depends on your frame of reference.
Shhh! Its Your Secret
A 2006 study by the University of Chicago focus on looking at the effects of successfully achieving a secondary goal (like … on Facebook), on achieving the primary goal (like …). Interestingly, they found that if people thought achieving that secondary goal was a progress towards the primary goal, then they were less likely to keep pursuing that primary goal — the secondary goal was then considered as a substitute for other possible secondary goals.
On the other hand, if people thought achieving the secondary goal was as a proof of commitment towards the primary goal, then they were more likely to pursue the primary goal. The commitment probably made them feel like the other secondary goals were more worthwhile, since they had to stay consistent with their new identity.
So New Year resolutioners, you’ve got a choice. If you want to publicly announce your plans, then you may want to try and frame your Facebook status not as a strategy in achieving it, but as a commitment towards it. Or better yet still, you can stay committed to your plans and probably delete that tweet and start getting the job done.
Happy New Year!
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sat, Aug 03, 2019.